Abstract paintings of the sea are, for me, a way of reflecting the fresh changes brought about by a new day and a new tide, revealing the many beautiful qualities of nature.
Looking out over the shore is a wonderfully affirming and peaceful experience. It can reconnect you to nature and the elements. It captures your attention and lets you reflect on the wild beauty of nature, making you pause and reflect upon yourself.
I’ve found over the last ten or fifteen years of painting professionally that the sea always attracts me as a subject, with so many ways in which you can express it.
There are certain physical similarities between paint and water. Paint can often be made to flow like water and its fluidity mirrors what you find in life – the same way that the tide washes over the sands, sculpting the beach. The continuous movement of the elements mirrors the gestures an artist makes with their brush or tool. It means you can paint in a very abstract way but also stay connected to a real–world subject. It is one of the attractions seascapes hold for me as an artist.
There are also the physical processes of nature, it’s patterns and rhythms which are interesting for an artist. The way wind, rain and the sea have sculpted the coast can be mirrored in the way you apply paint to the paper or canvas.
The varieties of light you find on the beach create different atmospheres and feelings which can be explored through art. The light on misty winter days compared to sunny summer days makes the coastline seem completely different. The light cast over the sea is particularly beautiful. The changing quality of light over different distances is something that inspires me to pick up my brushes and paint.
The strength of the wind also affects the coastline’s appearance. It makes it feel very different, with much more movement over the seashore. The waves and clouds appear much more active.
With so much scope for creativity, it is no wonder that the sea is a subject artist and collectors enjoy.
In my paintings, I aim to introduce minimalism and abstraction into scenes I have experienced and plan to paint, using sketches or photographs to recall the views seen out on the beach. I then choose particular brush–marks, sizes of brush and speeds of painting while I work.
I enjoy using colour a great deal. It can be quite a challenge to create a balanced painting with refined colours. Sometimes I select pigments which you do not normally expect to find out in nature and enjoy exploring the emotional qualities of them through my paintings.
I find working with colour is very rewarding but it often takes up a great deal of nervous energy. It is a necessary and fairly intense process when you are aiming to create both harmonious and contrasting colours – especially when working with the immediacy of impasto oil paint or with watercolour. Each stroke has a final and irreversible impact on the outcome of the whole painting.
For me, the sea is an important subject for my abstract oil paintings and watercolour paintings. It allows me to have a connection to the real world while grappling with the structure and colour of the painting process. It also allows me to reconnect with nature and feed my love of the sea, the beach and the coast.
Published June 2019