Within the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition, there are a number of paintings of people on boats. Psychological research has shown that humans are naturally drawn to the water and that spending time by the coast can make us feel calmer and happier, whilst boating is a great activity to explore when at sea. The paintings range from people enjoying the soothing calm of the gentle sea, to people in larger ships in the depths of the rough ocean.

Colin Allbrook’s painting Returning At The End Of The Day depicts a group of people in their small boat as it comes into the old pontoon after a few hours out at sea, perhaps after enjoying some sightseeing or mackerel fishing. The setting sun after a hot day creates a rosy glow in the sky with a slight haze over the still sea giving an overall calming atmosphere to the piece, with a sleepy sense created mirroring how the people in the boat probably feel after their day out at sea.

Colin Allbrook RSMA RI Returning at the End of the Day Watercolour 49 x 67 cm £1,200

There is a collection of paintings within the exhibition by Tim Hall including Figures and Red Sails, Mousehole and Sail Election, Rose of Argyll, Mousehole. Mousehole is a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, and Tim painted both these pieces from what he observed at the ‘Sea, Salts and Sails Festival’ in 2018. The village runs a biennial maritime festival to celebrate the local fishing community, with rowing and sailing races, music and games, traditional craft demonstrations and open artists’ studios set in a picturesque harbour village.

Tim Hall explains that in his painting Figures and Red Sails, Mousehole he wanted to capture the heat and light of a fantastic summer’s day during the festival. He says ’I felt the clouds and sky had an Alfred Sissly feel while I was painting the background’, referencing the impressionist landscape painter. The second painting Sail Election, Rose of Argyll, Mousehole shows a group of people taking part in the Mousehole regatta, Mounts Bay, also as part of the festival. Tim’s work beautifully captures the reflections of the boats in the sea with the bright colours of the sails glimmering in the water.

Tim Hall RSMA Figures & Red Sails, Mousehole Oil 62 x 77 cm £2,750

Tim Hall RSMA Sail Elections, Rose of Argyll, Mousehole Oil 77 x 92 cm £4,500

John Scott-Martin’s painting Crossing the Channel at Dusk shows a group of sailors hoisting the main topsail on board the Brixham Trawler 'Provident'. John explains they are preparing for a night of sailing on the English Channel on their way home from Brittany, France, with the pinks and oranges of the setting sun reflected in the sea. John has really captured the strength of the sailors needed to hoist the sail reflected in the way the figures are positioned.

John Scott Martin PRSMA PPRBSA FRSA Crossing the Channel at Dusk Oil 52 x 68 cm £2,500

Deborah Walker’s painting Job Done shows a lifeboat coming in at Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which is one of over 200 lifeboat stations around the coast in the UK. Deborah explains: ‘It's a special experience to watch a lifeboat go out or come in. I had no idea where they had been, but as they manoeuvred into position for the long haul up the ramp, their job was done.’

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crews and lifeguards provide a 24-hour rescue service in the UK and Ireland and have saved over 142,700 lives since 1824. 

Deborah Walker RI RSMA Job Done Watercolour 55 x 44 cm £1,200

David Thomas’ painting Dinghy captures two figures manoeuvring a dinghy boat near the shoreline, the large oars compared to the tiny boat suggest it might have been quite a challenge to steer! David explains he was compelled to capture the scene as he was drawn to the light on the figures and on the water.

David Thomas Dinghy Watercolour 47 x 51 cm £500

Getting on Top of It by Chris Pitman is a painting of a man at work on his boat as it is moored in a boatyard, as he works on maintenance, against the backdrop of a clear bright blue sky. Chris describes the painting as a reflection of ‘a labour of love on the hottest day of the year.’

Chris Pitman Getting on Top of It Oil 45 x 55 cm £550

Srirangam Mohankumar’s painting Sailing at Sea shows seven figures sailing their boat in the choppy ocean. The sense of movement is reflected in the playful brushstrokes, evoking a feeling of excitement and adventure as the figures and ship bob in the sea.

Srirangam Mohankumar Sailing at Sea

Bren Keyte creates glass pictures. In this image Sailor’s Rest we can see a fisherman as well as another person sailing their boat set in the scene of a harbour with a lighthouse, beach huts and harbour buildings. Bren explains: ‘Lots of detail was obtained by cutting very small pieces of Bullseye glass, collaging them onto a piece of streaky base glass, then firing it in a kiln at 730 degrees centigrade.’ The variety of textures, particularly in the sand and at the edge of the sea really add to the atmosphere of the piece, bringing it to life. 

Bren Keyte Sailor's Rest Kiln-fired glass 30 x 30 cm £350

The final painting to highlight is Two Men, Essaouira Morocco by Brian Fleming. Brian explains: ‘I was particularly interested in these two men sitting quietly in their boat as they were surrounded by the noise and activity of the port. There are so many boats that they seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The boats were full of a chaos of equipment.’ The chaos is contrasted by the peaceful men as they sit contemplatively whilst perched on the bench of the boat.

Brian Fleming Two Men, Essaouira, Morocco Gouache 63 x 85 cm £2,200

We hope you enjoyed reading more about this collection of paintings that depict people in boats, featured within the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition, and encourage you to explore the exhibition further which truly celebrates the sea!

Article written by Hannah Martin

The Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition is available to Browse & Buy online now, and in the gallery from 30 September to 10 October

Discover the Royal Society of Marine Artists Annual Exhibition now