Art and text by Gabrielle Berlet
“I’m a big fan of the Ocean. I’ve spent time in the Caribbean snorkeling and became enchanted. There’s more Ocean here than Earth. I’m concerned for her as much as all of Earth and want to help bring awareness. She’s the Pacha Mama!”
“In creating my collages, I don’t do much research or planning. I find a backdrop that attracts me as I look through magazines and cut out objects that appeal to me; a ball, a face a fish, and keep cutting until I have a good pile. Then I immerse myself into the artistic process, which involves insight, spontaneity, self-doubt, many feelings, and let the art arise. What has to happen, no matter what the changes, is that I get to the point where I say, “Yes, I love it!” I have to love it. Then I glue it all down and it is finished.”
“The desert scene? Its from 2004. I lived in the high desert and loved the changing light. It had an Ocean quality with the sands and exotic ancient plants. I decided to try my hand at collage. This piece was my first. From there my collage art took on a life of its own”
“The pieces that involve water, fish and creatures of the ocean just come to me. I cut out images that I am attracted to. For example, I found a fabulous picture of a mako shark that I sat on for years. One day it fit into a backdrop, which had something to say. The piece came at the beginning of the “Me Too” movement. I didn’t purposely set the shark against the girl, that was chance.”
“I found the blue shark and cut it out, and it just fit this bucolic scene. Then I added the woman. It was so bizarre; it should never happen, right? It was like global warming. We are at a point where anything can happen.”
“The strange, pink deep sea creature apparently had only been recently discovered. It’s called an axolotl. I thought it was quite cute. The piece came together at the beginning of the pandemic. I call it “Shelter in Place.” I love the background. I cut out the robe years before. It was on a beautiful model. It felt like the piece was missing something and so I added the pet. People were sheltering in place with their pets.”
“The piece with the blue grouper coming through the window is a photo of Mariah Carey’s living room from Architectural Digest. I worked on it for a long time. I needed something in the window space and waited months for it to come together. When I saw an article on groupers, I knew a grouper belonged in the window. It took a long time but I finally glued it down.”
“The mouth and arms? I don’t know what it says. I liked the urchins because they made a kind of cuff for the arms—I am a bit of a fashion freak. But the two arms were not enough and when I came upon the mouth it seemed like a perfect fit. The electric plug came as an after thought. It was bizarre but seemed to work. I don’t know the meaning yet. Coral bleaching?”
“What the pieces say, I don’t always know. I have one piece that feels like a vision of things to come. When I create them, I have to be in the ‘right attitude,” with my humanness and irony intact. I like those forms of expression.”
Gabrielle “Gabi” Berlet was born in Germany and raised both there and in London. She came to New York as a teenager and attended Art School there but had to switch to supporting herself when her parents returned to Europe.
She moved to western Massachusetts after the birth of her son and created a successful retail fashion business there which thrived for 25 years. In 2020 she moved to Los Angeles, CA and from there to the high desert and finally retired to the Coachella Valley where she started to explore her latent artistic talents in the form of collage work. She currently shares her life with her partner Mikole Kaar, an accomplished Jazz artist in Palm Springs California. Her email is: Gabiberlet@gmail.com
New Zealand-based ocean artist Mon illustrates the beauty and wonder of the undersea world.
All images and text by Mon.
My most recent dreamscape was inspired by an unforgettable dive near Seal Rocks in NSW, Australia. During that dive, I was surrounded by a breathtaking array of fish, sharks, and rays. The sheer diversity and abundance of marine life left a profound impression on me, and I knew I had to capture that experience in my art.
I’ve always been fascinated by the incredible diversity of marine life, and this fascination led me to want to share my knowledge and love for these creatures with others.
I’m primarily self-taught. I’ve been doing illustrations for as long as I can remember, but I started taking it more seriously around three years ago.
I draw my inspiration primarily from the ocean itself. The underwater world is an endless source of wonder and beauty, and I find inspiration in the mesmerizing colors, intricate patterns, and fascinating creatures that inhabit it
While I don’t have formal training as a naturalist, spending countless hours exploring the ocean and observing its fascinating ecosystems has allowed me to develop a deep appreciation for the intricate beauty and complexity of marine life.
The vibrancy of the colors in my illustrations is largely a reflection of the real-life underwater world I’ve had the privilege to explore. I often base my colors on actual images I’ve captured with my underwater camera.
Every dive is a fresh source of creative ideas.
Creating these collections allows me to not only showcase the beauty and uniqueness of each species but also contribute to a resource that can help others learn more about the underwater world.
One crucial aspect of my process is using photos I’ve taken as references. These images serve as a valuable resource for capturing the intricate details and features of the subject accurately and ensure that my artwork remains true to the beauty of the natural world.
I seek to evoke emotions of tranquility, wonder, and responsibility, inviting viewers to not only admire the creatures I depict but also take action to protect them and engage in sustainable activities that ensure the health of our marine ecosystems.
I’d like viewers to leave my illustrations with a heightened appreciation for the ocean’s beauty, a stronger connection to nature, and a greater sense of responsibility towards marine conservation.
Ultimately, I aspire to play a meaningful role in the intersection of art, ocean advocacy, and conservation, contributing to a sustainable future for our oceans through my work.
Art is not just a passion for me; it’s my full-time job, and I feel truly fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love.
Hailing from the picturesque shores of New Zealand, Mon’s connection with the sea is at the core of her creative journey. She’s not just an artist; she’s a free diver, a scuba dive instructor, and an adept spearfisherwoman. Over the past 8 years, Mon has explored the world’s oceans, diving into their mysteries and capturing their beauty. Mon specialises in marine illustrations, crafting captivating artworks that transport viewers beneath the waves. Guided by the visual references she captures with her underwater camera and enriched by her personal encounters with marine life, Mon’s art comes to life with authenticity and depth. She is also an advocate for sustainable spearfishing practices. She utilizes her art as a potent medium to raise awareness about the importance of responsible fishing.