How to paint underwater

I am an illustrator who has been passionate about scuba diving and free diving for many years. The underwater world is an endless source of inspiration for me, and many times I have dreamed to take my notebook and some colour pencils to the bottom of the ocean. I admire the work of artists scuba divers like André Laban, and that’s what made me decide to try painting underwater. I think that to paint underwater could become a very cool art.

A French Artist Orianne Sophie Kukukita painting under the seaNew way of painting under the sea while free diving

How I started to paint under the sea

One day in Bali, without any preparation, I put on my bikini and my mask; I took a canvas and some oil paintings. Then, I jumped into the sea, a beautiful turquoise sea of Bali. My first idea was to check whether it was possible to paint underwater! Alas, not only I couldn’t stay in a stable position, but in addition it was impossible to paint anything. The oil painting got much more spread all over my body than on the canvas. It was a total disaster, but I thought that day that this original artistic technique suited me well.

Practicing underwater oil painting technique in Bali seaAfter the underwater painting session for the first time
My first experience in underwater painting was a total disaster. Picture taken in Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia.

So, how to paint underwater?

A few days later I decided to give another try at underwater painting in a swimming pool. This time it worked out much better! I put a weight belt on, and could paint easily on the canvas. This practice in the pool was a good training for me, to find a way to be at ease with my buoyancy. But this was not what I wanted. I wanted to paint into the sea, to be directly in contact with some natural elements.

Orianne Sophie Kukukita is training to paint in swimming poolNo tutorial for how to paint underwater
Practicing my oil painting technique in a swimming pool helped me develop better buoyancy.

Then, I had the idea to paint directly on my swimwear. Indeed, I wasn’t able to find a way to fix the canvas underwater yet, and the painting seemed to stick much more on my swimwear than on the canvas itself. I bought a pink one piece swimwear and started to paint some clouds on myself, as if it was the sky during sunset. The sky of Bali is always magnificent especially at sunset. so I decided to paint it on my body under the sea. This experience was very interesting, and I had to perform a kind of dance underwater to be able to paint clouds on myself.

Painting on swimwear under the sea was really funFun idea of painting underwater under the sea
I decided to paint directly on my swimwear while diving to represent the sky of Bali at sunset. Pictures taken in Gili Air, Indonesia

Still,  I was doing some researches on how to paint underwater. As long as my goal was not reached I wouldn’ t give up! I really wanted to be able to paint on a canvas, while I was underwater. Finally after a few tries and many researches, I could find a technique to paint into the sea.