Friday, January 6, 2012

A Story About Something White Other Than Snow

The apartment I inhabit is a wreck, but it's in a nice spot up here on the Hill. To make it more comfortable and interesting on a small budget I collect stuff indigenous to the area - shells, sticks, rocks, etc. and place them all over my painting room which, in the world of small living, doubles as my bedroom.  When I move, I simply return them all to where I got them - the beach.

Occasionally I throw one or more of these treasures into a painting. It occurred to me as I was doing this one, that I really didn't know much about the shells I was painting. So I went on a search and find and landed on a brief explanation in Scientific American.*

Seashells are the exoskeletons of many sea creatures in the mollusk family (snails, clams, oysters, etc.) - they grow outside the mollusk's body. They are made primarily from calcium carbonate and a small amount of protein. These shells are not made up of cells. Mantle tissue that is located under and in contact with the shell secretes proteins and mineral extracellularly to form the shell. It's like laying down steel (protein) and pouring concrete (mineral) over it.

The wide array of colors and patterns are the result, primarily, of the diet of the animal they house. Mollusks' diets vary depending on water temperature. Warmer water is typically home to more colorful, patterned animals. This is due to the variety of food available in warmer climates. As a mollusk eats, pigments from the food are absorbed into the mantle layer. Cold water mollusks typically live in dark-colored shells

So there you have it on this snowy winter day. A story about something white other than snow!

A Story About Something White Other Than Snow • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

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