A Raft of Otters

by Steve Love Artist

A Raft of Otters

Currently I am working on the painting of "A Raft of Otters", Big Sur (#2) 30" X 40". I took the photograph of five otters resting in the kelp from a stretch of beach near Julia Pfeifer Burns State Park (north of McWay Falls). Springtime is otter time. During the summer and fall season the kelp beds grow and develop from the near shore area out to a quarter mile from shore. The rough winter swells tear the kelp beds apart, so by spring the most developed kelp beds are very close to shore. With the otters resting in the kelp between meals, spring is an ideal time to photograph them in their natural environment.

Raft of Otters In Progress

A Raft of Otters (#2) underpainting: raw umber, burnt umber, and turpentine are used to tint the canvas and develop form.

Three values mixed with cerulean blue, manganese blue, and white are dry brushed over the dry underpainting. A bristle brush is used to develop basic form of the moving water.


The first layer of thin dry brushed paint representing the surface of the ocean is complete.

Otter drawing in progress

Two values mixed with viridian green and yellow ochre are dry brushed over the kelp areas, developing basic form.

Sea Otters

Spot glazing with cobalt blue and phthalo turquoise on the ocean surface, kelp, and otters fur is the first step in developing the illusion of translucent water and reflected color on the otters fur.

Otter Paintings

The first layer of thin dry brushed paint representing the otters fur is complete. Mixtures of raw umber, raw sienna, yellow ochre, and white are combined to develop the basic form of the otters body and fur texture.