Artwork of the week on art2arts July 6th 2015
One of the most popular themes to paint for British artists is the sea and this is reflected in the variety of techniques, media and styles that capture “the ever changing subject with endless possibilities”. (Sandra Francis)
Sandra Francis is a seascape artist and her paintings bring joy and peacefulness to many collectors. Inspired by the beachside where she lives, the artist thrives to create tranquil artworks in both acrylic and oil, that touch the viewers’ souls.
There are three elements present in all her paintings: the sand, the sea and the sky, all depicted in their specific colours and textures, which give the artworks unity and a distinctive style.
We can see the same elements in our ‘Artwork of the Week’, Quiet Beach, described by the artist as “a peaceful painting with a feeling of seclusion”. The texture in the foreground is in contrast with the soft lines of the waves and the diaphanous clouds against a blue sky.
“I am inspired by the translucency of the shallow water on the rocks by the path where I walk and the way the colours change as it gets deeper from a very difficult colour to get, sort of olive green brown becoming greener and then gradually the blue reflections of the sky picks up on the waves making it greener and bluer till you get sometimes a very bright sea green/blue sea and sometimes a grey green, always different”, concludes the artist.
www.art2arts.co.uk have asked me to write another interview this year JULY 2015
When did you first become interested in painting?
I started painting at the age of three in Africa where I was taught by my mother as she took the books from the English school and taught me herself as we were in the middle of a plantation, in the middle of the jungle, near the Equator. There was such colour and I used to paint the African ladies carrying pots on their heads in their robes. I won a competition when my mother sent one of these paintings back to England to enter. I think the prize was a large doll.
At secondary school back in England I became interested in the Beatles and their portraits won runners up in a competition on BBC and my portraits of them were used as a backdrop when they were interviewed during the programme, a pre runner to Top of the Pops called Ready Steady Go.
I was in trouble at school for this as the other pupils caused a riot when in the break time I sold the portraits I did every night instead of my homework. And I was encouraged to paint the Pope or President Kennedy, which I did, and they hung them in the school.
Did you always know you would become an artist or did you have other ideas?
I wanted to become a vet when I was at school, but then the painting of the portraits changed my mind and I went to Art College from school where I did 5 years training and also qualified as a teacher.
Are you a full time artist and if so, how do you manage your time?
I have always been a full time artist and although it’s a tough life I made a living from it and bought my house from the proceeds of selling originals and prints of varying subjects. After portraits, (I worked in the Public and Prep schools doing portraits, I revisited the land of my childhood to do a portrait of an African King and dignitaries, barristers, etc) I did places and developed a range of about 300 prints of villages, cottages, churches and popular places and then 55 London scenes which were hand coloured. I also ran my own little gallery for 8 years in Cookham where I sold paintings and prints, (I framed them myself) and I did a lot of pet portraits and commissions for the local celebs.
With regards to managing my time, I just paint or plan a painting all the time except for shopping, reading, eating and sleeping.
If I am out and about, I am mentally painting all the time and seeing compositions in everything. It is quite exhausting. You cannot switch it off.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I have always found inspiration in anything but now, as I live by the sea, I am constantly inspired by the beautiful beaches and the ever changing colours the weather makes on the sea.
How did your interest in seascapes develop?
Well, I was brought up as a toddler on the white tropical sands in East Africa and although I don’t actually remember it must be in my subconscious.
When I was selling in London, I developed a range of stylised seascapes inspired by the beautiful John Miller prints and they were very popular. When I moved to the Isle of Wight, I continued to do these for a while, selling them in the local gallery, but then real beaches took over and I did a range of watercolour local scenes which I published as postcards and which I still sell locally, 1000;s of them.
Then I developed from just painting scenes as they actually are like sitting in front and painting what you see as I found that if I did a painting as soon as I got in after a walk I could get more individuality from painting from memory. Now I’ve become more technically up to date (and still learning that).
I paint a memory or an idea on the iPad as soon as I get in to get the colours down and later I develop it into one of my large paintings. I do put more mental energy and time in them now and therefore they are worth higher prices. I am totally drained when I’ve just finished one of my latest paintings.
I put a lot of mental emotion in them and I think after years of painting experience this comes through in the recent paintings
You have a very distinctive style, have you always worked in this way?
A style just arrives after years of working. It is not something that I even think about. You just find after a painting that it looks like I’ve painted it.
Are you influenced by any famous artists, if so who are they?
I love the romantic idea behind Gauguin’s paintings, maybe because I’ve been abroad to the tropics myself, although a different reason and different part of the world.
Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?
I have mentioned before that I use iPad, memory and drawing and sometimes printed out iPad sketches which I stick on the wall to look at while I am painting. They develop in stages and layers.
Now I am older, I paint for a couple of hours, take a break and return to see it. You get so caught up in it that you don’t “see” it until you get away from it for a short while. I do put more into them than I used to. As I realised a short while ago when asked as a commission to repaint a triptych I did years ago but bigger and it wiped me out, but I was pleased with it in the end and so was the customer!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day nowadays is get up and out, see what’s going on with the local yacht club and look across the water then go for nice coffee and a chat in the local hotel to get my brain going, then I come back, check my emails and then work on the computer, iPad or in the studio, painting. I do find a lot of time is taken up with the computer editing pics of paintings, ordering materials and sharing images on social media. In the afternoon I walk for up to an hour on the beach always getting inspired by the colours of the sea and lots of things going on on the sea: sailing, kite surfing, distant ships and people paddling in the sea.
In the evenings, I crash out and watch a bit of telly, but usually I am working on the iPad at the same time.
I am lucky to have had this experience which now gives me insight into people, places, and situations and I am able to find a creative interest in everything. More importantly, I really love the fact that so many people have enjoyed my work and that it lives on people’s walls and passed down in families. I often get emails from US from people who have inherited some of mine and are trying to find out about the image. They send them to me by email.
The self portrait I use on my Facebook artist page is a painting I did and got lost and the owners got it at an auction and contacted me and sent me that photo of it. I thought it had gone forever. Also one like that came from Australia which had been sold on and ended up there from a gallery!
I have always found that painting is very therapeutic and I like to create calming anti-stress images. I think that if they are therapeutic to me then they may be to others who contemplate them. I was once told by a buyer “Your paintings are soothing to the soul." If I achieve this then I am happy.
Article for www.art2arts.co.uk
The love of painting seascapes...
---….What inspires me to paint the sea is that it is a beautiful and ever changing subject which has endless possibilities.
….. Before I moved to the beachside residence where I now live I began painting tropical seascapes in a semi abstract way. I am sure that in my subconscious mind I have beaches and the edge of the sea and palm trees engrained, as I was brought up as a toddler on silver sandy beaches of
When I was selling in
The flat areas of colour simplified down to blue and white meant that the design and composition became paramount .
Since living here and walking daily on the beach my present style of seascapes has developed. The beautiful colours which change everyday according to the light , weather , tides , winds, time of year and time of day are an endless source of fascination . I prefer to paint just water and sand with a bit of headland (natural trees and foliage) but the brightly coloured sails and the graceful yachts tackling the wind are beautiful especially when the sun and shadows plays across the taut sails.
This year the design and pattern of the beach pools , rocks , seaweed and meandering wet outlets of water on the sands are what seems to be my fascination . The shapes create space and distance and I try and use the shapes in the sky to compliment the designs on the sands. I like to create therapeutic relaxing stress relieving paintings. One customer kindly wrote to me and said that my paintings were peaceful to the soul.
My latest painting is getting close to the effect I am trying to achieve. See “Solent View “ and “Far |Out Triptych” …..The way the colours are lit up by a ray of sun and the gaps in the clouds.
The sea is alive with colour caused by the currents and rocks beneath, the clouds above, and the winds churning up waves or little ripples . It always looks different.
……Having studied history of art at college, of course, Turner is the greatest seascape painter. The Japanese prints changed the nature of composition from then onwards, notably the Hokusai wave which has influenced so many seascapes ever since.
However I do not consciously think of other artist’s style but my own has evolved just from doing so many paintings. It is not until I finish a painting and look at it and the previous ones that I see a similar style emerging. This just happens it is not contrived at all.
There are some contemporary artists from
……I tend to paint from memory of a local beach that I suddenly see in a different light while walking and now that I have mastered painting on the Ipad I quickly paint it from memory as soon as I get back and later it develops into a finished painting . I saw how David Hockney used this for sketching and thought “I must learn to do that too”
So since last Xmas I have found that this helps steer away from too representational a painting as there are so many artists painting popular recognisable places but I like to create something unique which could be a beach anywhere. A new dlsr camera takes fantastic photos but I still find that my paintings need to be more from memory and sketches to develop something unique so I use the camera for photographing the finished paintings rather than for subject matter , apart from details of rigging and sails, but mostly I paint these mainly from memory.
Further round the
When painting I first decide which blues and browns I am going to use and lay in the areas of colour and the design and composition. I then further develop all the pattern shapes and light and finally sometimes use glazes and occasionally a little bit of texture gel on the rocks .
Sometimes I extract the colours of the sea and textures of beach or waves and paint an abstract horizontal striped painting. “ Sea Colours “
……I am inspired by the translucency of the shallow water on the rocks by the path where I walk and they way the colours change as it gets deeper from a very difficult colour to get, sort of olive green brown becoming greener and then gradually the blue reflections of the sky pick up on the waves making it greener and bluer till you get sometimes a very bright sea green/blue sea and sometimes a grey green, always different. I have seen the sea almost black before an impending heavy shower.
“Rocky Shore “
Having painted portraits and then architecture and landscape I find seascape the most challenging , interesting, and offering the basis for emotional variations of colour and composition providing an endless possibility for creativity. “ Beach Colours”
My seascape paintings.
Describing my art …..1.... what I get out of painting which is a way of life to me, (an expression of an inspiration that builds up and has to be released),2.... what the viewer or purchaser gets, enjoyment, relaxation, memory of their visit, a decoration that enhances their rooms, a treasured possession, and 3....what aspects of painting that are most important to me and what make mine a little different to other artists.
I have always painted even before I learnt to read and write from the age of 3, in Africa on a plantation in the jungle.
After a lifetime of portraits, commissions, places, prints of local scenes all over Southern England some of which can be seen on www.sandrafrancispaintings.co.uk
I now am fortunate enough to have moved to the sea where I can see the ever changing colours of the ocean every day over morning coffee. Many long walks over the past 9 years at the edge of the waves on the beaches which are only yards from my front door have instilled in my memory the colours and moods of the area.
Important are colour and distance, space, fresh air, movement, trees on the headlands with mist and graduation of blues to green. Seagulls, rocks and trees right at the edge of the sands. Sometimes distant sails and the local yachts and dinghies in summer, but I prefer the simpler subject with the minimum of realistic detail. Waves in the mist as it was this morning are abstract and there was a lot of atmosphere with the light coming through creating green lines of light on the water.
I am planning a series of seagull paintings and this background atmosphere will be ideal with the gulls flying past.
My best painting to date since moving to the Isle of Wight is The Seagull and the Spinnaker Tower which conveys the distance over the water with the colours of the sea and the perspective of the seagull on the rocks being larger than the Tower in the distance at Portsmouth. It has a lot of detail in the foaming waves around the rocks
This acrylic painting is still for sale is 3ft square on 3d canvas.
It will be in my gallery on this website.
I also did one the same size of a gentle wave coming off shore and the skyline of Portsmouth in the distance.
I have sold many of these seascapes locally in galleries, hotels and restaurants and also online. Many previous customers now collect them.
Comments received from happy customers.......
Great service, fast delivery and lovely picture. What more can you ask?
The painting was beautiful and turned up quickly well wrapped
Absolutely delighted - Very Helpful Seller - Highly Recommended - Many Thanks ++
These paintings are fantastic - A1
What an artist - the picture is stunning!!
Hello, my husband and I have just purchased five of your sea pictures, and I just wanted to tell you how much we love them, we have a large bedroom, but sadly the windows look out onto a wall, so we bought these for the bedroom, and now we enjoy looking at them and they brighten up the room, also lovely to look at on just going to sleep and waking up. Thank you for the pleasure they are giving us.Regards Pat and Pete.
Good morning Sandra,
You’ve done a fantastic job.
Thank you very much - I think you are the most considerate seller I have experienced I feel guilty that I did not have to pay more. Being a great collector of post boxes and telephone kiosks I am sure your two pics will look great on my hall wall.
The painting has arrived and I absolutely love it! I really am so thrilled, thank you so much! Merry Christmas.
Thankyou so much for a really first class service Sandra.
Thank you very much for your mail and the great photos. We´re really overjoyed. It´s a great painting and you have thought of everything we have proposed. Thank you very much. It will perfectly fit in our lounge. It has been so kind of you that you have especially painted for us. It´s an honor to have an original and we will always have a painting to remember our great time in England…
Have received picture today, and I have to tell you that the power and symbolism I felt when seeing it, has brought tears to my eyes. I'm a cynical old fart and this is the firt real art that has brought any emotional reaction, thank you for touching my heart.
It’s beautiful and hanging on my wall. We will be in touch for more.
I had intended on writing ages ago
.Thank you so much for the wonderful painting! It is absolutely beautiful and is the image I remember while walking home from Waterloo Station every evening for seven months. We have already had so many compliments on it and we love it! Dad calls in Nuclear Bomb in Westminster (he is a Physicist!) - it has such great colour.
Many thanks, you’ve done a great job.
Good Day, forgive the email but I have recently inherited a picture from my Uncle which is Boulter lock signed by you. i was interested to find out about it and did a web search. i found numerous links to prints but upon examination the picture I have has significant differences to the prints on sale. I enclose a picture of my one and wondered if this is an original as it does not look like a print and has significant differences
hi from jluia and john in maidenhead.
thank you for replying i bought your beautiful painting about 3 years
ago in a tiny village auction in waltham st lawrence just outside of
maidenhead, so not wycombe auctions how it got there i dont know , i
was very lucky to buy it . my husband john is working at the moment but
he will send you a clear photo for your painting for your web site ps
we have just bought yesterday a watercolour of cookham high street by
your good self from the internet ! i know you new work is your passion
but everone does that you should stick to portraits you are amazing
thanks for replying you made me happy xx
Thank you so much - I was thrilled to come home from work on this rainy Dorset day to find I could purchase your lovely painting. We have been looking for a local seascape to hang over our bed but after a recent extension had run out of funds. Looking forward to receiving the painting. Thanks again. Julie
Hi, just to let you know that the painting I collected from you on Friday looks great above my blue sofa, we are really pleased with it so thanks alot I will continue to look at your work Many thanks Andrea
Just wanted to say that this picture is incredible!
Best Regards - J.Patten
Thank you for your reply. And I just want to say
your work is beautiful. I'm an artist myself,
and although I do abstract watercolors, I find
artists like you inspiring!
And a very merry christmas and a happy new year to you as well . Painting is looking really good in frame . will be looking in on your site in new year.
Dear artist Sandra Francis,
I live in australia in melbourne, I was visiting a whay we call a second
hand bric a brac shop when this stunning print caught my eye.The print was
framed but had slipped down hence I couldnt make out the artist nor name of
print.I took the print home and removed the backing board and straightened
up the print and it has your name as reads...82/500 boutters lock
maidenhead, signed in pencil Sandra Francis...Can you tell me more about
this print and its worth please..It is stunning beautiful colours and will
be kept in the family regardless of worth, but we would love to know approx
value for insurance reasons, Thankyou so much for your time.Kind Regards
I have just received, unwrapped and hung 'Seagull Reflections'. It was
extremely well wrapped for transport. The colours are sharper and the
painting looks even better 'in person' than on the internet. I absolutely
love it! I will look out for more of your work. Thank you very much. The
painting is in a loving new home. Kathryn.