Photo/IllutrationYuka Miyauchi, who calls herself a “squid painter,” and her work titled “Ikatokai,” which won second place in a competition, in Tokyo’s Minato Ward (Amane Shimazaki)

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When 18-year-old Yuka Miyauchi saw an oval squid in her family home's kitchen in Kagoshima Prefecture, she didn't just see a tasty dinner treat.

Instead, what caught her eye were the squid's glittering emerald green eyes and body with black and yellow dots that flashed as its tissues contracted.

A few days later after seeing the oval squid, Miyauchi bought a Japanese common squid at a supermarket and painted a picture of it. She has since been totally enchanted by the peculiar species.

Over the past 15 years, Miyauchi, now, 34, has created hundreds of squid paintings.

However, the artist still feels she cannot fully reproduce the infinite beauty of the marine creature.

Currently, Miyauchi gets up in the early afternoon and purchases and eats grilled squid on her way to her studio within a five-minute walk of her home. At the room about the size of six tatami mats, she draws squid.

Miyauchi goes to a nearby aquarium in the evening to see squid swimming. When night comes, she buys and dissects squid to record its body structure before it is served on the dinner table.

Between midnight and early morning, Miyauchi works again at her art studio. Squid appear even in her dreams.

Each time she is asked why she paints only squid, Miyauchi, in turn, wonders why others do not depict the elegant living creature.

Miyauchi traveled a tough road to stand out as a painter and had to take four part-time jobs, including working as a cafe staff member and as a hotel cleaner, at one point.

She has gradually won recognition as an artist after her decade-long career.

This autumn, her work featuring squid swimming over Tokyo won second place in an art competition organized by the Tokyo Midtown complex in the capital’s Minato Ward from among 262 entries. It was displayed there through Nov. 10.

The contest judges admired her painting, saying “her single-minded pursuit of squid is mysterious” and that they were “astonished by her inquisitive mind.”

Although Miyauchi has released 500 squid-featured works as a “squid painter,” she said, "I have never been satisfied with my own paintings.”

She adds that she will continue depicting the creature until she can fully capture its beauty on canvas.