Color at the Beach

We think of the beach as being composed of grey/brown sand, white shells, blue water. But every beach has its colors. Where I live, on San Juan Island, I am continually amazed at the intensity of the colors I find even on a grey day. Today at South Beach it was misty and overcast, but the stormy weather had washed up all sorts of seaweed, from iridescent pink to olive-green. Crab shells, driftwood, eelgrass, rocks. An endless array of the colors in these fascinating organic forms!

Drawing stone with stone

When I visit South Beach on San Juan Island, I am amazed by the geological diversity on this edge of land. Colors of stone from white to green to pink, brown and black. Textures from soft and round as if the stone bubbled up from the sea and was frozen in time, to sharp and broken boulders, cracked apart and brought here by ice.

As with any artwork, questions must be answered before proceeding. Which point of view do I take? What do I include or edit out? What tools do I use? I try to keep it simple, looking for lines that connect and contrasts that are interesting to me. Charcoal, another mineral, is so fascinating – I used to hate how it got my fingers black and ended up on my clothing, how awkward and dark it was. But like many things, of course, I didn’t understand it. Now, I am slowly coming to love how it can be as diverse as these formations, from hard to velvety, from chunk to powder.

My psyche is always overwhelmed by the beauty and opportunity I have to draw and paint this place. I could be here every day for the rest of my life and never capture even a little of what goes on here – in glacial time, or human time.

Envision your Year Workshop

I love planning and setting goals! But like a lot of people it takes accountability and recommiting myself to ACTually get things done! Over the years, I have developed a process that works for me, and now I want to share it with you in a new workshop I’m teaching on January 4th at the Friday Harbor Atelier.

There will be only 12 participants, so we can really dive into each of our goals and develop a vision for your year. We will be choosing a “Word for the Year” – a touchstone to help ground you when that inevitable confusion and insecurity sets in. We will be talking about the differences between Vision, Strategy, Goals and Tactics, and how each has its place and can help you get where you want to be.

If you are interested and have questions, feel free to contact me at

Or, sign up here – I promise good coffee and treats!

16 Journeys

16 Journeys, acrylic on paper, mounted on panel, 44x56, Shannon Borg
16 Journeys, acrylic on paper, mounted on panel, 44×56, Shannon Borg

For this large piece, first I crinkle up (yes, basically destroy) a sheet of worn, torn, old colored construction paper. Each paper is then painted in thin, dripped acrylic paint, letting the paint create its own landscape. I find connections between the random form the paint takes and the landscapes from the birthplaces of my 16 great-great-great grandparents, who came from Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Wales and England.

These landscapes are a combination of imagined and real, from memory and dream. I love how the forms then work together as a group, as in our memories, visions are often overlapped and bumped up against each other.

Art Inspired by Oysters

Pink Oyster, ink on paper, 6×6”

Oyster shells are endlessly fascinating to me. I love the variety in their shapes and colors, depending on the species and the manner and place in which they are grown. Oysters are really what made me an artist. I started drawing them, then painting, discovering how to see and interpret what I am looking at.

Crassostrea virginica, crayon on paper, 11×17”
Oyster Phantasia, 8×8”, oil on canvas – SOLD