The Ever Changing Pattern of the Paua Shell


The Paua shell is a variety of Abalone which there are over a hundreds, but the Paua is the only found in the coastal waters of New Zealand and is considered the most beautiful and most sought after due to its vibrant and iridescent colour. Haliotis iris is the name given to the shell by the Maori, the black flesh of the Paua is a Maori delicacy and the shell is used in Maori wood carvings , jewellery and artwork. The Maori regard the shell as treasure from the god of the sea.

I have always found the Paua to be stunning and fascinating with the ever changing colours as you study the shell it seem to be almost fluid with its vibrant gleam and reflections, no two shells are the same and the markings are so varied. I have a few examples of the Paua shell, I never tire of studying the shell, the colours just mesmerise me. From pinks, purples,  limes, yellows, greens, aquas, blues through to blacks, the list is never ending and never boring…….just beautiful

img_1679img_1687I had this crazy idea to paint a large painting to hang on my wall under the skylights in the kitchen but it had to be pretty big to not be lost in the space so high up. So with a canvas covered board I set to with the acrylic paints to paint my impression of the Paua shell, not an easy task due to the complexity of the patterns that seem to be changing ever time i looked at it and because it was so big. After quite a few hours and days of painting the shell effect, it was time to say enough was enough as i could have kept painting forever. It was time to take the plunge with the resin coating to reflect the colours and to protect it from the sunlight. Unfortunately it did not turn out as I had hoped, not sure why we had so many issues with it, was it the heat or lack of heat, was it the expanse to cover, after 3 mammoth sessions with the smelly resin, it was time to throw down the towel and admit defect.

We thought the resin had glazed the painting well but as the resin was setting we could see shallow craters appearing as if it was shifting away from something negative, two more coats and we thought we might just of salvaged it but the dimples appeared again during the curing stage, not as bad but very noticeable. I’ll put it down to experience and next time I’ll opt for a different type of resin with equal parts rather than a resin and a catalyst….