Seascapes 52: week 4

Join me for the fourth instalment of my seascape collection. This week we talk about tips for creating titles and textures. 


Pure was one of the first seascapes I painted after I moved to Yorkshire in 2022. A joyful celebration of feeling at home in my new studio.

Seascape oil painting with textured wave breaking on the beach 

It's one of those paintings that is often admired and commented on. Some go as far as to say it's my best seascape. I'm not so sure but am glad y'all like it.

Titles: How do you name paintings? 

Pure's title is borrowed from my favourite Lightning Seeds song. I was listening to this while I painted, and it seemed apt. For once, naming a painting was easy. The pure joy of painting a seascape coupled with the expression of emotion and intent for my new life in Yorkshire.

Usually, I find it hard to come up with titles for my creations. I'm a little in awe of artists like my favourite Australian abstract painter, Jane Thompson who always seems to have great titles. 

Somewhere along the way, probably in my teens, I picked up an idea that art titles should be poetic and either conjure the imagination or be clever and hint at complex depths of meaning that mere mortals cannot fathom. I suspect this myth creates a mental stumbling block for me and other artists. Sounds like one of those pseudo points a pretentious art establishment created to maintain their elitism. 

That said, art doesn't need to tell you what's in the tin in a baked beans kinda way. A good title might hint at the inspiration, feeling or story that  gave rise to the painting. Don't tell me the whole story. Just drop a nugget for my imagination to run with.

Google on the other hand, it would seem, does like rather literal descriptions. No one is going to search for obscure art titles unless your artwork is already very famous. For example, I can search for "butcher boys sculpture" and Google will bring up 80s resistance artist, Jane Alexander's iconic trio. But you won't search for that unless you already know the work and recall its title.

It helps with SEO if you give your artwork descriptions that people might search for. DIdn't know this when I first set up my website. Alas! So, I did once spend a morning in bed with a coffee updating all my product titles to include phrases like "seascape painting", "sunflower painting" and "ballerina painting". It still makes me cringe because all my writing and editing training taught me not be repetitive. Plus, my design instincts tell me that shorter headings usually look better. Sigh!

People (more important than tech giants) do like to know where a painting is set or what it is about. It's a good idea to include that in the description if it's not in the title. Pure isn't based on a particular scene. It's an amalgamation of memories and feelings that span continents. So I can't tick that box with this one.

Textures: How do you create these?

Pure incorporates brush and palette knife textures. It also incorporates some additional texturising with a pin. It's a bit like going to the hair dresser. They do the basic cut, dry it, and then go in and do the fun, texturising cut. 

The extreme contrast between the blended water and impasto crests is deliberate. I wanted this wave to be tumultuous. But it does take practice to make sure it doesn't become blobby or clumpy. Slapping paint on with a palette knife is fun. So, it's easy to get carried away and end up with something heavy handed. The trick is to make sure you absolutely have the right amount of paint on the applicator. It's the Goldilocks tale: not too much, not too little, just right.

The angle of application is important too, especially for waves. There is a parallel between the movement of the water and the movement of the painter's mark-making gesture. This is something I'm increasingly paying attention to in my seascapes.

In my current studio practice, I've been experimenting with a greater range of gadgets to create new textures. More about those new tools and effects when the paintings are dry enough to photograph and share.

Pure is available (at the time of writing) in my Land & sea collection.

Hope you enjoyed the read, Join me again next week for the next seascape instalment where we'll meet some seaside creatures. 

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