Scuba Sketching by Sue Gubbay

Read about Sue Gubbay's first attempt at drawing underwater... we love the finished article!



  • A diving trip to Marsa Shagra in Egypt organised by Oonasdivers. The perfect opportunity to try out something which has been nagging at me for quite some time – how to combine my professional work (marine biology) with my hobby (watercolour painting)?

    With years of experience making species lists, and drawing profiles of the seabed underwater, the challenge was not such much the task, but how to achieve it.



  • Working on the principle that keeping things simple is the best approach when doing anything underwater, I was always going to use my trusty slate. The critical questions were what to draw with and, what to draw on?

    In the end the solution came to me from two companies – Art Safari – who I have travelled with on painting holidays and Two Rivers Paper – who developed some “turtle boards” for an Art Safari trip to the Galapagos islands last year. The paper was certainly tough. A handmade rag board, which quite happily survived 45 minutes underwater.



  • As for the drawing materials, at first, I was tempted to use oil sticks. They seemed likely to cope with being submerged but how would the water temperature affect them, and would I end up with a squidgy mess? Not good for the reef, for any attempt at drawing, or for my diving kit. In the end I simply went for coloured pencils. My plan was to do the main drawing underwater and then, once the paper had dried, to apply watercolour. I gave it all a 50:50 chance of working and producing something reasonable.

    It was great fun but was I successful?

    I’ll let you judge…. but I will certainly be trying it again the next time I go for a dive.

    Images Courtesy of A R Davis - Artist In Residence / The outline sketch drying out / Under The Mooring