Art 2 – Shells and stippling – due 12/4


Read the information on the following sites about sea shells – look at the history, the value, the trading, collecting, and even stealing of rare shells. Consider the differences in Western art and in Mesoamerican art.

Facts and details about shells

More facts and details about shells

shells in mesoamerican art

Comment on the 3 most interesting details about shells that you previously did not know.

When you think about shells in Dutch Baroque paintings, are shells a Christian symbol, a symbol of colonization and power, or simply a beautiful object? Or, are they all three?

Choose a painting which supports your ideas and discuss them in reference to the art work. Post a link to it also.

Will any of these ideas  change the way you will work on your stippled shells? Explain.

(and, just as a reference on stippling, there are some good ones on google images:  )


4 responses »

  1. I thought it was very interesting that sea shells played such a large role in the spiritual life of some Native Americans. I think that holding something so close to the sea and so fragile in such high regard is an interesting anthropological choice. The use of sea shells in painting from ancient Greece is also interesting, showing that there is a common interest in shells between cultures. I think of shells as an object that you can have and look at and it can give you a strong memory of the ocean, I don’t think it has a huge connection to Christianity.

    That photo is very similar to what I am thinking of doing, hyper realism and precise consistent tone. I don’t know if anything we have gone over will change how I go about doing the stippling, but I might arrange my picture differently or change my backgrounds.

  2. I looked into what shells represent, apparently they’re objects of St. James, the patron saint of pilgrims. They also symbolize fertility which is why “The Birth of Venus” features a giant shell. As for whether they’re used primarily as symbols or because they’re pretty, I think that depends on the painting. Again, in Birth of Venus it’s obviously a fertility symbol,but they also appear in this painting:
    I think it’s safe to say that that painting doesn’t have a religious message, so the shells, like the flowers, are probably there for purely aesthetic reasons.

  3. I learned many new facts about shells form reading the article. I really found it interesting that shells grow periodically unlike small children that grow constantly. I also thought that shell collecting wasn’t popular but Many people do it. lastly I found it interesting that shells have been found from millions of years ago.

    I really like the painting of the sea turtles. I I loved how there shells blended into the see bed and camouflaged them in there environment. I really gave me some great ideas for my stippled seashell drawing

  4. Three Interesting details:
    1. seashells have always had a role of beauty and curiosity.
    2. Seashells have been used as a medium of exchange in a myriad of places throughout the globe.
    3. The most common species of shells to be used as currency have been Cyraea moneta, the “money cowry”.
    In my opinion, I think shells may have some meanings that related to religion, because shells were always regarded as the symbol of nature, and also a symbol of fertility from the painting “Birth of Venus”. But from the most part, shells were just simply as aesthetic object.
    In this painting, the shells appear with all other natural things, like flowers and spiders and so on. So it just emphasized the aesthetic view of the painting, instead of Christian symbol, and colonization symbol.

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