Coral reef art | paintings by Gunnar Baldwin, Jr.

Noon on Utila Reef

Noon on Utila Reef (oil on canvas, 48" x 36")  Click for larger image

is the most recent painting in the coral reef series I am creating to draw attention to the global crisis of coral reef degradation. The painting was inspired from hours spent exploring the pristine, fringing reefs off Utila Island, Honduras in the 1970s, before climate change impacts degraded the health and beauty of reefs across the Caribbean.

Chelonia

Chelonia (30" x 30")  Click for larger image

This is the fifth painting in the coral reef series. Since sea turtles are both iconic symbols of healthy marine ecosystems and dependent on them, I felt it was important to include them. This painting depicts a Green Sea Turtle and derives its title from the turtle's Latin name, Chelonia Mydas. Green Sea Turtles are threatened in most parts of their range.

School Colors

School Colors (40" x 32")  Click for larger image

This painting (fourth in the series) aims to capture the flickering light, three-dimensional space, and the overwhelming of one's visual experience that is characteristic of snorkeling or diving on a healthy coral reef. Unlike many well-composed pieces of art, there is no "resting place" for the eye. This is intended. When swimming in a coral reef, there are an infinite number of moving objects and points of light competing for one's attention. In the kaleidoscope of a reef, our eyes simply cannot follow them all.
 

Elkorn Coral Shallows

Elkhorn Coral Shallows (40" x 28")   Click for larger image

This is the first of the series of coral reef paintings. Elkhorn coral has been a prominent and iconic feature of underwater landscapes in the Florida Keys, Caribbean, and Bahamas and has experienced a high mortality rate within its range. While efforts to propagate and restore elkhorn coral by coral farming and research organizations have been quite promising to date, vast areas of degraded reef will require an enormous commitment of time and resources to achieve significant restoration at scale.

Trunkfish and Fileish

Trunkfish and Fileish (30" x 30")

This painting (sixth in the series) offers a close-up view of two intriguing species of fish found on Caribbean reefs: a scrawled filefish (Aluterus scriptus) and a smooth trunkfish (Lactophrys triqueter).

The Yellow Dome

The Yellow Dome (40" x 30")  Click for larger image

This painting features brain coral—one of the most iconic corals in Caribbean Reefs—as well as a French Angelfish, whose striking yellow marks on its scales are arranged in a geometric pattern. This painting depicts the appearance of sunlight as it filters through the water and dances over the features of a reef, the way it is actually experienced when snorkeling or diving on a reef.

Queen Triggerfish with Sea Fans

Queen Triggerfish with Sea Fans (24" x 24")

This painting aims to depart from conventional depictions of coral environments, emphasizing light, color, and form, accentuating broken light—the way that environments and their components are often revealed in nature. This series draws on the artist's own observations.