OctopusWithaKnife by Laurel Scheel

‘Artist Spotlight’ Of The Week: Laurel “Yoyo” Scheel

Are you an octopus lover looking for some inspiration? Well, look no further! This week’s ‘Artist Spotlight’ is the immensely talented Laurel “Yoyo” Scheel, whose work is not only original and stunning but also incredibly detailed. She showcased her latest artwork in Many Things Under a Rock, her newest collaborative venture with her father, Professor David Scheel. So let’s take a few moments to learn more about this inspiring artist and find out how she ended up here!

All videos and images are provided by Laurel “Yoyo” Scheel.

Meet Laurel “Yoyo” Scheel!

Having grown up in Anchorage, Alaska, and due to the nature of her dad’s work studying octopuses, Laurel had many opportunities to observe and interact with them.

She is currently studying animation at Minneapolis College of Art and Design but spends just as much time sculpting and creating digital sketches. During the filming of ‘Octopus: Making Contact,’ Laurel was primarily hired to take care of the tank.

While her dad was in Madagascar, she spent a large amount of her free time playing and keeping company with Heidi, the octopus.

Throughout the project, Laurel was able to gain a deeper understanding of the expressions that octopuses are capable of making and the way they communicate with the world!

Let’s find out more about her artwork…

Tell us a bit about your octopus artwork

“While I was creating art work for “Many Things Under a Rock“, I sketched over 100 octopuses in numerous different poses, some realistic some much more cartoonish. I picked my favorites of the final drawings that appear in the book and I created finished drawings of a couple of my favorite of the 100 octopus sketches.”

What draws you in or fascinates you the most about octopuses? When did this start for you?

“As I said earlier, spending all that time with Heidi and really learning how to see and understand her opened my eyes. The octopus is so intelligent, and each individual has such a beautiful personality, that it compels me.

They explore their world with curiosity and excitement; they can hold grudges and can be excited to see someone. There is just some much dimension in octopuses!”

chapter 2 of the many things

How did you first become interested in creating art that featured octopus?

“Because octopuses have been around me all my life, they have appeared in my art on an off.

Recently though I drew so many that I became interested in being able to properly portray the personality that I could see in them onto the page. I wanted people to be able to see octopuses the way that I could.

Even in my more realistic drawings I wanted people to be able to see the intent and thoughts within the octopuses eyes.”

How long your work takes you to complete… Can you discuss any interesting or unique techniques you use?

“My drawings can take anywhere from 5 hours to a week to finish depending on the level of detail I am trying to get!

All my drawings start with a small dynamic sketch that I then refine and adjust to create accuracy especially with the arms.

Octopus arms are the hardest to draw accurately because there is a sort of hidden rule set to their movement that sometimes just appears as a feeling that something is wrong while I am drawing and I have to draw and re-draw the same arm over and over until it feels right.”

Was this modeled after a specific octopus species?

“Most of my drawings lean towards the Day Octopus or Giant Pacific Octopus, because they are the ones that I am most familiar with. But, when I am drawing a specific species, I often am looking at references and shifting my drawings to match.

I also use references for posing or arm movement the most useful of which is video reference because it shows a much fuller picture.”

day octopus drawing

What materials were used? 

“My drawings are just drawn in Photoshop; though I do my sketches on paper!”

Who (or what) are your biggest influences?

“For my drawings, Mercer Mayer’s ‘One Monster After Another’ has been a big influence along with Maurice Sendak. Both of their styles use this highly detailed light pen work.

My drawings tend towards a similar light penciling and I like adding lots of fiddly detail.”

How do you know when a piece is finished? 

“It’s more of a feeling. Each drawing has a different style feel and I just draw until it feels like it is done.”

What’s the best website for people to discover your work?

” You can check out my wesbite, Watsonian Creations.”

Thank You For Joining Us For Artist Spotlight!

First, we want to give a big thank you to Laurel “Yoyo” Scheel for allowing us to showcase these detailed octopus art pieces on OctoNation. To continue supporting Laurel and her art, make sure to follow them on YouTube.

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

✨Click here to buy!✨

A behavioral ecologist’s riveting account of his decades-long obsession with octopuses: his discoveries, adventures, and new scientific understanding of their behaviors.

Many Things Under A Rock

Of all the creatures of the deep blue, none is as captivating as the octopus. In Many Things Under a Rock, marine biologist David Scheel investigates four major mysteries about these elusive beings.

  • How can we study an animal with perfect camouflage and secretive habitats?
  • Does a soft and boneless creature defeat sharks and eels while thriving as a predator of the most heavily armored animals in the sea?
  • How do octopus bodies work?
  • And how does a solitary animal form friendships, entice mates, and outwit rivals?

Here he explores amazing new scientific developments, weaving accounts of his own research and surprising encounters with stories and legends of Indigenous peoples that illuminate our relationship with these creatures across centuries. In doing so, he reveals a deep affinity between humans and even the most unusual and unique undersea dwellers.

MANY THINGS UNDER A ROCK has also been selected as a Must Read Title (Next Big Idea Book Club), Best Book of 2023 so far (Barnes & Noble), and Editor’s Pick Best Book (Amazon)!

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