Shark Week: Meet Marine Artist Kelly Quinn
Kelly is a wildlife artist, co-founder of Paint in the Wild, and the Artist in Residence at The Florida Aquarium!
"My mission as an artist is to connect communities to their parks, preserves, and non-profits - to inspire exploration of the amazing world around us. I believe that when we see how incredible our planet is, we have all the motivation we need to make more sustainable choices.
Everything our beautiful planet has to offer has always inspired my curiosity - and love. I find myself painting in order to understand it."
Thanks for sharing your shark story with us Kelly.
1. What is your favorite shark and why?
That’s a hard one! But, the Atlantic Shortfin Mako holds a special spot in my heart. They were the first shark species I spent a lot of time researching and drawing when I first became fascinated with sharks when I was a teenager! But my love for them truly blossomed once I learned more about their quirky personality! They are so curious, totally open in their approach, and quick to assess situations, it’s like they are really thinking when they are checking something out. And the fact that they can launch themselves over 20 feet in the air is just plain awesome, how could you not love such a graceful animal?! Once I learned about their overfishing in the Atlantic I knew I had to do something more with this shark and other sharks species throughout our ocean.
2. What is one shark you would like to see/dive with?
I’d love to dive with an Atlantic Shortfin Mako, or a Great Hammerhead! I would love the opportunity to observe their behavior and sketch what I saw on white board below the sea.
3. What inspired you to start painting wildlife? Sharks?
I grew up on Central Florida wetlands that are protected by conservation easements, and I learned from a young age there was a huge disconnect between people in my community and the place we called our home. I wanted to share the wildlife I lived with & loved with people, and shed light on their lives to promote awareness for local issues. After graduating from the University of Florida, I started working with The Florida Aquarium as their Artist in Residence, and gained a whole new passion for the sea! This lead me to sharks and their plight in the sea! Once I learned about the problems, I realized I didn’t want to just talk about it and be a bystander, I wanted to jump in and do something about, starting with my art.
4. Has there been a favorite shark to paint?
The Shortfin Mako had been my favorite shark to paint! They’re so expressive and have the most beautiful angles to work with. The piece this species inspired is called “Blue Dynamite” and it’s a part of my 2017-2018 Shark Collection!
5. Why is art important for conservation?
I believe art can be the bridge that connects people to wildlife and the environmental issues they face in a positive manner. Art can speak to many different kinds of people in ways that words could never communicate accurately. What I mean is, you can tell someone “This animal is beautiful and important to our ocean’s health” or you can show it to them. I’ve found the visuals of artwork also get people talking and asking questions, especially with kids!
6. What message do you hope people take away from your artwork?
I want people to feel the same excitement I do when I dip below the sea and learn something from every painting. Whether that be shining a new light on sharks by showing their true colors or lifting the veil of blue to show just how colorful and alive our seas truly are. In the end, I want to inspire a passion for the sea and empower people with knowledge to be the change in the world we need.