I've been showing my watercolour paintings of Lytham St Annes beach and oil paintings from 2007 (when I first started exhibiting my artwork online). I grew up in St Annes-on-the-sea, so the beach 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 sands 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, the beach has featured in many of my recent artworks on paper.
Over the last few years, Lytham St Annes beach on the Lancashire coast has been one of my favourite places to paint. I explore the atmosphere and the mood as experienced out on the beach. I look at the quality of the light, the natural movement and the visual rhythms and patterns found at the seashore. 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 for my original artwork and paintings.
As the sandy beach at St Annes-on-the-sea stretches for miles around the Fylde coast, the flat sands, 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 a beach desert with seeming miles of dry or semi-dry sands 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 sands, channels of seawater and what was the seabed.
When the tide is in, or at high tide, it can be within a short distance of the dunes. This variety means the beach 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 Lytham St Annes beach, the various depths and movements in the water make for lovely fluid textures that I find visually inspiring. 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 seascape views you see can have many of these qualities all at once as it is such a changeable natural environment.
When you leave the urban town behind and walk on the beach 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.
All the natural forms and qualities I see form an impression on me, inspiring and encouraging me to explore them through an artistic medium such as watercolour or oil painting.
On most creative trips to the beach, I make photographs to remind myself of what the beach looked like at the time. Both for the enjoyment of the medium and so I can refer back to it later when it comes to creating my artwork.
From an artist's perspective, there is a noticeable visual difference in the type of beaches at Lytham and those at St Annes-on-the-sea.
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. Lytham beach 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 sands broaden out rapidly from Lytham, forming a lovely expanse of wide-open sandy beach. Much of the view is westwards, purely out to sea. The shallow, fast-moving tidal waters often create beautiful reflections from the sky in the wet sands. The far-reaching tide often creates natural patterns over the sands 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 paintings.
In my opinion, both Lytham and St Annes-on-the-sea have beautiful views which are enjoyable to paint throughout the year!
Published February 2022 | © Timothy Gent 2022. All rights reserved.