artist biography – claudia kraus
I was born in the northwest of Western Australia and at a very early age moved to Germany, where I stayed until 12 years old. My family then moved back to Perth, and we lived in the beachside suburb of Mullaloo. I remember spending much of my young life on the beach there; the start of my living closely with the sea! As a child I was always drawing, always colouring and always painting. I entered and won a few children’s competitions through school. In fact I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing.
scuba diving and underwater photography
I gained my ticket to dive at the age of 16, and have now been seriously diving for the last 15 years. The first digital camera I bought quite coincidentally came with an underwater housing, and so started an obsession with photographing my underwater world. I love wildlife, especially marine creatures, and I love painting, so I found that underwater photography became the link between my diving and art.
paintings of the underwater world
I could see an opening for paintings of the underwater world and by joining together my three loves – wild animals, diving, and painting – I embarked on an exciting journey to fill that niche. I find that painting underwater scenes is more satisfying to me than just photography because when painting, I can adjust the composition of the scene, and perhaps change the lighting to better enhance the look and feel of the whole experience. I can decide what I need, and how I want to present my subject. I like to place my focus subjects in context – that is in surroundings such as a cave or perhaps a wreck – rather than just painting the subject in detail by itself.
I am currently aiming to further develop the confidence of my brushstrokes as I explore a new way of expressing the impact the underwater world has on me. Hopefully I can pass the feeling of this impact on to you! Up until now, my illustration and graphic design background has come to the fore, especially in my earlier work, however I have been broadening my horizons recently by looking and studying landscape painting particularly with regard to tonal and atmospheric distance, which I have found to be very helpful. However I now find myself returning to my first love, painting the sea, above and below, and its wildlife, using my past skills of illustration and adding my new found knowledge of atmosphere and tone.
My artwork is a response to encounters on my dive expeditions and outdoor excursions. I combine photography and art to capture special moments with nature. It could be an encounter with a marine turtle, the way light and colour is reflected off the fins of a school of fish, or light filtering down from the surface and causing the ripples in the sand on the seabed to make shadowy patterns. The challenge for me is to create depth and distance in my underwater paintings to recreate for the viewer the experience of the diver/sea creature interaction. I find the whole experience entrancing and would love to pass that on to you through my art. I strive to achieve a balance between artistic expression and realistic interpretation of live and light underwater.
magic and beauty
Just as no two days underwater are the same – there are different seasons, different experiences – no two days painting are the same. Each layer on a painting becomes a new experience and creates more depth. As with being underwater – sitting behind a rock and watching a kaleidoscope of new and different sights – the painting evolves before me, layer by layer, just as magically.
I hope I am able to bring to you the beauty of my underwater world.