Given their love of all things maritime, the Royal Society of Marine Artists often seek out and find amazing hidden coastal gems around the UK and beyond. In this year's exhibition, the artists have explored a plethora of remote islands, tiny coastal towns, secret paths, jagged cliffs and choppy harbours.

James Bartholomew RSMA, Sun & Sea Mist, Dingle, Watercolour & pastel, 44 x 55 cm - £750 

1. Dingle, Ireland – James Bartholomew RSMA

James Bartholomew produced this painting during his first trip to Dingle in 2017, a small, secluded town located on the most westerly tip of Ireland, after which there is nothing but the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. “I always think it’s worth going out of your way to find great subject matter, “ Bartholomew says, “Making that extra effort usually pays dividends when you find a richer seam.”

Bartholomew uses the internet to seek out good painting locations – “bright light, big waves”. He had initially intended to go to Hawaii but upon discovering a forecast for 15+ ft swells in Dingle with intermittent sun, he changed course.

What does he like about Dingle? “The wildness. When you get to the far reaches of the land, where I usually head, you generally have the place to yourself, especially in wild conditions. The weather here is more extreme, high winds etc, and when you position yourself close to waves of this scale, it’s quite exhilarating. The coastline here is as dramatic as it is beautiful. They also do an awesome pint of Guinness!”

Brian Fleming ARSMA, Men Sorting Fishnets, Essaouira, Morocco, 45 x 68 cm - £2,000

2. Essaouira, Morocco – Brian Fleming ARSMA

Brian Fleming has been visiting Morocco every year since 2007 and the coastal city of Essaouira since 2009. Having travelled extensively across the country via train, bus and car, Fleming confirms Morocco is “a very vibrant, friendly and exciting country.”

Brian has been painting scenes of the fishing port in Essaouira for many years, fascinated by the constant activity that takes place there, from the fishing boats to repairing and building larger boats and the market selling fish. The artist explains, “I was particularly interested in this scene because of the vast quantities of netting and floats being sorted out. Also the relationship of the four men in the composition. The strong sunlight gives a sharpness and clarity to the image.”

Kim Jarvis, Iona, Jewel of the Sea, Oil, 75 x 95 cm - £1,950

3. Iona, Scotland – Kim Jarvis

The Scottish island of Iona has a rich history and is an island of extreme beauty, says Kim Jarvis. “It is where St. Columba brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland in the 6th Century. There is an ancient abbey and church and a small resident community as well as many visitors from around the world on pilgrimage. The beauty of colour and its history makes it quite simply my favourite place to paint.”

Jarvis has been visiting the island of Iona for 20 years, making the trip approximately every two years. “Although I live in Gloucestershire, I spend about 6 weeks a year in the West of Scotland including the islands,” she explains. Having originally visited Iona as a tourist, she fell in love with its “spirit and beauty”. 

“This beach at the north end of the island has incredibly clear light. The colours and shapes of the rocks offer perfect structures to balance with the unusual white sand of the island. On this beach, in particular, the views are of more islands and also the mountains of Mull beyond. So, there is much interest in the foreground and the eye is also drawn to distant beaches and horizons, offering constant opportunities for making visual stories.”

Neil Faulkner RSMA, Plane Tree, Amalfi Coast, 60 x 77 cm - £1,500

4. Amalfi, Italy – Neil Faulkner RSMA

Neil Faulkner had always wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast, having seen pictures of its beautiful coastline and steep-sided cliffs surrounding its many little villages and towns. After holidaying there a few years ago, he has continued to return every year since.

“Light and colour is always an important feature in my paintings, dazzling water dancing around moored boats bobbing on an ultramarine sea. This was a strong inspiration for me to want to paint this mid-morning picture.”

“Amalfi is the most inspiring place for an artist, offering high vantage point compositions, wonderful light and fabulous colours. The harbour comes alive each morning with an array of vessels taking tourists to must-see places along the coast.”

Robert Brindley RSMA, Choppy Water, Istanbul Harbour, 43 x 51 cm - £700

5. Istanbul Harbour, Turkey – Robert Brindley RSMA

This was Robert Brindley’s first visit to Turkey’s capital city. He shares, “We had heard that Istanbul was a magical place where East meets West and that in some parts of the city, time has almost stood still.” He was inspired by Edward Seago, one of his favourite artists, to paint the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. “I just loved the hazy light and atmosphere. The numerous ferries and fishing boats plying their trade also attracted me to the subject,” he recalls.

Tim Wootton SWLA, Every Cloud: Yesnaby, Orkney, 56 x 80 cm - £1,250

6. Orkney, Scotland – Tim Wootton SWLA

In 2002, Tim Wootton visited Orkney to film a small farm on the island of Shapinsay. Upon returning to Yorkshire with the video footage, he and his family soon relocated to Orkney later that year. “We have since moved around the county a couple of times but have found the place absolutely inspiring, as a landscape and wildlife artist,” Wootton says.

“On this particular morning, the county was cloaked in fog. As I walked along the harbour front, the sunlight started to penetrate through the fog; slivers of light percolating through the weight of the atmosphere.” His aim with this painting was to “create an almost surreal sense of perspective; heightening the feeling of distance in the scene.” Tim was enchanted by “the weight of water-laden air combined with the lightness of the shafts of light illuminating the brighter elements in the work.” 

Paul Banning RSMA RI, The Road to Point Radix, Watercolour, 60 x 77 cm - £1,500

7. Trinidad – Paul Banning RSMA RI

Paul Banning was born in Trinidad and has returned regularly in recent years to paint and "capture the various characteristics of the Island that I grew up in". This path is on the East coast of Trinidad and where little development has occurred, so life is more like it was back in the 1950s, says Banning. "What I loved about this scene was its serenity, though it can become busier at weekends, with many more cars parked and people enjoying the sea as well as picnicking on the beach."

According to the artist, Trinidad has changed considerably over the years since gaining its independence. "Many of the places I used to go to have become very crowded and commercialised – what commonly is known as progress!"


Discover More Coastal Destinations Explored by the RSMA

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition runs at Mall Galleries from 10 to 19 October.

Browse & Buy the Exhibition Online