Octopus

Octopuses are mesmerizing creatures, with the play of their technicoloured skin that can make them seemingly appear out of nowhere, their surreal dance of limbs stretching in ways out of this world, and their Houdini-like ability to creep through an opening the size of their eyeball. There are many stories to be told about octopuses. They are incredibly brainy animals, although the term brainy is used loosely here- their neuro system contains one cluster in the main body mass, but secondary, and sometimes independently acting, clusters of neurons can be found in each of the arms. Oceans of evolutionary time and paths separate us from octopus and their fellow cephalopods, yet they are the closest that we have found to a mind like our own in the invertebrate animals. It is hypothesized that the evolutionary loss of their shell necessitated them to make up for this weakness by developing a quick and clever mind to outwit their predators.

One of the things that I tried in this drawing was to give their amazing skin its due: the uppermost of three skin layers that allow cephalopods to play the tricks they do, consist of chromatophores, pigments of different colours (red brown and orange hues being typical) that can be contracted to let light pass through to the next skin layer, or “stretched” by tiny muscles to make the pigments containing specks larger, and the colour they contain more dominant. Playing with the size of circles, I tried to do what the octopus does better: give the illusion of light and dark solely by the size of the numerous specks in its skin.

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