Underwater oil painting by French Artist Orianne Sophie Kukukita

After many attempts painting in the water, I finally found a way to make my dream to paint into the sea come true. First, I managed to stabilize myself in the sea using an 8kg weighted belt. I also bought a small easel, on which I attached 10 kg weights, plus some tiles. Despite all this lead, I still had trouble getting buoyant in the water: each time a boat passed, everything would turn upside down, including myself!

Technical aspect of painting underwater

The hardest part was to create a suitable underwater paint. For me it was crucial to find an environmentally friendly product. I love bright colors, and I needed to find a thick paint which is not toxic to the environment. After much research I was able to create a mixture of natural pigments and linseed oil on an oil painting base. I also found out that using a small trowel rather than a paintbrush was a better way to spread the painting on the canvas.

Putting the colours underwater on a paletteFor underwater painting technique I use a troel

Also, after many attempts, I realized that the canvas had to be prepared with a special coating so that the paint would adhere better. I let it dry well, then I had the idea to quadrille it with waterproof tape to give a structure to the painting.

Abstract painting technique by taping the canvas with tapeCat sitting on the canvas while preparing tape coating
I have to prepare the canvas with a special coating before to dive. Also, I quadrille it with waterproof tape to give a structure to the painting. Here on Gili Air beach with my kitten assistant.

Once everything was set, I dived! I looked for a quiet place in the sea. My first satisfactory experience was on Gili Air Island, which is close to Bali. This island has a beautiful emerald green sea, with a white sand beach, which is good to take pictures of me performing this art. It is essential to have a sea without waves, transparent and shallow. I dived about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) deep, and still today this is how I work. I have also already painted at 4 meters (13.1 feet) deep with diving equipment in the sea close to Lombok.

Wooden easel needs 10 kg weights to be stabledI also tried underwater oil painting while scuba diving

To paint underwater with scuba diving equipment was a fantastic experience, and I learned a lot about colours while painting at a 4m depth. Actually, I noted that the deeper down I painted, the less the painting would stick on the canvas. Also, the colors are not perceived the same way according to the depth: the deeper you go, the less red appears. One day while scuba diving, I painted my canvas completely brown to represent the coral. When I came back to the surface, I found out that the painting was actually red!

This red colour seemed brown while painting underwaterColours appear differently at 4 meters depths
When I painted this canvas in the sea, I thought it was brown, but actually it was red at the surface!

When the painting is dry I add recycled nail polish

After each underwater painting session, I have to arrange the paintings a little bit. Indeed, they appear to me in a different way underwater, and I want to make them as similar as possible to this stage. Under the sea, the colours are more shiny and glittery. For this reason, I follow a specific process: when I finish my painting, I go back to the surface whether on a boat or on the beach. I gently remove the strips of tape, and then I let the fabric canvas dry in the sun for several hours.When the paint is dry, I add some details like glitter or nail polish. These products are the one I use to make my artwork, and I like the shiny effect, which makes it look magical!

3 bright colours always go together well in artWhen the tape is removed from oil painting

After I finish painting underwater, I remove the stripes of tape, let the fabric dry for a few hours and add some extra details with nail polish and glitter.

Usually I get out of a working session covered with paint stains from head to toe! My bikini is also frequently stained with paint, but this is my work coat and I often have to change it. I clean my equipment with soap because, as I use natural paint, I do not need toxic products such as turpentine to remove traces of paint.

Removing oil painting from skin with natural productPink swimwear hand painted with clouds in the sea

After an underwater painting session I am generally covered with painting from head to toes.