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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

February 22, 2019

Illustration – Documenting the Voyage

Victoria Smith, SEA Alumni Relations Coordinator and Illustration Instructor


Practicing blind contour drawings of faces on the quarterdeck.

Ship's Log

Current Location
Samaná, DR

Ship’s Heading & Speed
At anchor

Sunny and WARM with intermittent, passing squalls

Souls on board

What seems like 100 years ago when I was in college, I took a scientific illustration course that blew my world wide open.  As a science major, I was pleasantly surprised how the act of drawing enhanced my observation skills and forced me to slow down, make notes, jot down comments, ideas, and truly focus on what I was doing.  Open any scientist’s experiment or field notebook, and you’ll find sketches, observations, thoughts, questions and scribbles to record everything they do – from DaVinci to modern-day. Artists do the same; both disciplines are process-driven.  Following in this tradition, students are keeping a sketch journal on shore and at sea to record their experiences by writing and illustrating.

We began our daily practice of drawing (and it IS practice, as you would practice a musical instrument or sports to build muscle memory) on shore, later at sea, with several classes, exercises and projects designed to train ourselves to “draw what we see and not what we know.”

A few exercises: 

Blind Contours: drawing the contour of a subject using one continuous line and focusing exclusively on a subject (no peeking at the paper and no lifting the pencil!).  This nets hilarious results and frees us from the pressure of drawing perfectly.  It also allows our eyes to communicate directly with our hands without our pesky brain telling us “THAT’S NOT WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE!”

Modified Contour: drawing the contour of a subject using one continuous line and focusing on the subject, but taking quick glances at the paper.  This further trains our eyes and hands to communicate.

Gesture: timed sketching that captures the essence of a subject. 

I leave the ships’ company on Saturday to return to life on land and back in the SEA office.  It’s never easy leaving shipmates and life at sea, and I sincerely hope that everyone keeps drawing.  I wish we could publish online each drawing the students created in their journals so you, dear readers, can see their amazing work and unique styles.  I am so proud of them and their growth as illustrators, and hope they are also proud of their work. It’s my hope that, as the years pass, their journals evoke memories of their adventure at sea and as shipmates.

- Victoria Smith, SEA Alumni Relations Coordinator and Illustration Instructor

P.S. To C-284 students and crew: Thank you for being fantastic humans.  It’s been a pleasure and may our paths cross many times!  Be good to each other and keep drawing.


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!



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