Surf Artists and their Inspiration
From surreal paintings to resin-based art to prints to jewellery, every surf artist around the globe has taken a unique approach to painting the lifestyle, nature, and sport of surfing that we love. But where do surf artists find their inspiration and what does their work tell us? These incredible surf artists share how they show their love of the sea.
French West Indies
Céline travelled the world for 15 years chasing waves and exploring new cultures. Her travels led her to create colourful and expressive paintings that stem from her French roots as well as Hawaiian and Californian surf culture. Céline says that her work, “Speaks of what I live, what I dream of, and what I hope… I question our modern lifestyle, where we run after money, power, material things without real satisfaction. At the same time, time passes between the fingers like sand” She explains, “Through paintings, sculptures, videos or others, I try above all to make the spectators realize that one must take advantage of one’s life and that life is short.”
To get inspired, Céline travels, walks, surfs, visits art expositions, and looks to the works of artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jean Charles Dufresny, and Nikki de St. Phalle. She says, “By playing with popular symbols and by mingling joie de vivre, colour, light and a touch of madness, I hope to create a universe that questions our modern way of life.”
Hannah Katarski / Mermaid’s Coin –
Melville, Western Australia
www.mermaidscoin.com – @mermaidscoin
When you first look at Hannah’s artwork, you might think that it’s a drawing that she’s colored with paint. Actually, her work is a form of printmaking where Hannah etches into a plate, inks it, and rolls it through a press with paper. Once it’s dry, she paints the design with watercolours. Because of the watercolouring, no two prints are alike.
Hannah calls her work, “a slice of summer” that makes people feel good – like that feeling you get when you’ve just had great surf on a sunny day. For inspiration, her greatest influence is place.
“I love that Western Australia is such a diverse place. And the coastline is so varied and so beautiful… Family trips up to Gnaraloo Station have heavily influenced me. As have surf trips with my girlfriends to Lancelin — which have become a tradition.”
Of course, surfing is no stranger to being an artist’s muse. Hannah says, “I’m inspired by going for a surf and seeing the way a wave breaks from a particular perspective; watching dolphins surf waves with surfers at sunset; other artists and conversations with creative friends; children’s books; surf culture; surfing history; art nouveau; colour combinations; patterns in tribal and folk art.”
“There’s nothing like the feeling of being in the sea and being able to create something from it.”
Heather is a jewelry maker and painter who creates art for people with a strong connection to the ocean (surfer or not). She is constantly in the water photographing seaweed, waves, and marine life, to use as a model for her next piece. Armed with these pictures and memories, she crafts seascapes and paintings that are heavily influenced by the brisk waters of Southern California and the warm waters of Kauai.
To get inspired, Heather says, “My grandfather was really connected to the sea and he shared that with me growing up. He taught me not to fear it and to enjoy the magic of it. Although the ocean can be very humbling. I am very interested in sea life and underwater habitats as well. I love experiencing the beauty of the sea by surfing, swimming, or snorkeling and then taking that home and putting it into my work.” Art nouveau, paintings by Alfonse Mucha, and artists expressing their work on social media stoke her desire to create as well.
Dominique Amendola –
France, India, California
We’ve all seen the classic art pieces of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave”, Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” Vincent van Gogh’s “The Bedroom”, and Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” In a nod to these classics, Dominique crafted a series called Amadeus that recreated these works with a surf-themed spin. The American Gothic’s pitchfork is replaced with a surfboard, a surfer is riding The Great Wave, and Van Goh’s is hanging out in his bedroom reading a surf magazine with his yellowed gun against the wall.
Where did she get the skills and inspiration for this series? Domique explains, “I spent all my youth in Paris perusing the museums and I am definitively influenced by the old masters. In this case my Amadeus series was inspired by those fine masterpieces and the fact that the subject was surfing. I was commissioned those pieces for the First Surfing Federation of India.”
She takes inspiration from Renaissance painters like Raphael, Da Vinci, Vermeer, Monet, and traditional Japanese and Chinese paintings.
These pieces are sure to make any surfer smile, which is her main goal of the series.
“I just hope I can bring people a ray of sunshine in this terribly messed up world. If I can make my viewer smile or feel peaceful or fill them with wonder, I think I am successful.”
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Not all surfers have the luxury of catching a wave in warm-water paradise all-year-round. Living close to the sea, the coastline of New Zealand never fails to inspire Joanne to pick up her paintbrush. She paints vivid oil paintings that center around the movement of surfers and the sea. And when asked about where she gets her ideas on what to paint? One answer comes to mind.
“100% the ocean… It’s my love of surfing and waves. I can’t really think of anything else worth painting.” She hopes that when people look at her paintings, they’ll feel, “serenity, movement, and power of the ocean.”
When it comes to other artists, Joanne loves following the graffiti style art that Flox creates and admires the work of Kim Macdonald, Vincenzo Ganadu, and Kim Smith.
Though being a mother has cut into some of Joanne’s free time to paint, she still heads to the beach to find an endless source of inspiration for her next pieces.