I've been showing my watercolour paintings of Lytham St Annes beach since 2007 (when I first started exhibiting my artwork online). I grew up there, so the coast is a natural subject for me to turn to as it was a part of my everyday life. I would see many views across the shore and out to the sea that helped me be aware of nature and its qualities. Seeing nature so often and accepting it as my background environment, it has featured in many of my recent paintings.
Over the last few years the Lancashire coast has become one of my favourite places to paint. I explore the atmosphere and the mood as experienced out on the sands. I look at the quality of the light, the natural movement and the visual rhythms and patterns found on the shore. It has been the source of inspiration for a long-running series of seascape paintings, where I capture the views out to sea or a particular sunset or the light during the different seasons.
Here is a look into why it has endured as a lasting subject:
As the open beach can stretch out for miles around the Fylde coast, the conditions, once popular with sand yachters, offers such a variety of views depending on the height of the tide.
When the tide is out, you feel a sense of being surrounded by an expanse of land with miles of dry or semi-dry sand that stretch out to the horizon and the far off sea. There are often periods when the tide retreats, leaving a fascinating beachscape of wet and dry areas, channels of seawater and what was the seabed.
When the water is in, or at high tide, it can be within a short distance of the dunes. This variety means the coastal landscape can look very different depending on when you visit.
One of the striking things I find very beautiful is the visual qualities of light over the sea. Sometimes when you visit the various depths and movements in the water make for lovely fluid textures that I find visually inspiring and include in my paintings. From the twinkling and sparkling of waves on a sunny day to the choppy, churned up textures as the water moves to smooth tones of deeper waters out to the horizon. The view can have many of these qualities at the same time, as it is such a changeable natural environment.
When you leave the urban town behind and walk on the sand towards the sea, you are immediately aware of the contrast in the environment. You can feel the exposure to nature and the full impact of the weather.
The open skies offer a wonderfully varied visual panorama where clouds come and go over long distances. You can see many varieties of cloud forms or groups of clouds. The unique cloud forms that I see often appear in my paintings of Lytham St Annes beach.
All the natural forms and qualities I see form an impression on me, inspiring and encouraging me to explore them through an artistic medium.
On most creative trips there, I make photographs to remind myself of what the beach looked like at the time. Both for the enjoyment of the medium and as factual reminders so I can refer back to it later when it comes to painting.
From a visual perspective, there is a noticeable visual difference in the type of coastline along the Fylde coast.
The town of Lytham, being on the estuary that leads towards Preston, has a narrower beach which becomes less sandy and more marshy as you head southwards. It is inspiring because of the lovely contrasts between the land and the water, particularly on a sunny day. You are conscious of how close the water is and of being by the water. If you walk out along the wooden jetty next to the town centre, you can soon find yourself right by the sea!
At St Annes-on-the-sea beach, the flat land broaden out rapidly from Lytham, forming a lovely expanse of wide-open sands. Much of the view is westwards, purely out to sea. The shallow, fast-moving tidal waters often create beautiful reflections from the sky. The far-reaching tide often creates natural patterns and leaves pools or channels of water. All of these natural processes are often very beautiful and are what I like to explore in my art.
In my opinion, both areas have beautiful views which are enjoyable to paint throughout the year!
Published February 2022 | © Timothy Gent 2022. All rights reserved.