Our Inspired by the Coast series continues with Devon based artist and illustrator Charlotte Atkinson who creates paintings with a sensory connection to nature reflecting her love of yoga and painting outdoors. Her newest collection will draw you into an atmospheric dream world.
My home studio is on the South Devon coast near Salcombe where I live with my partner, son and our dog Bertie. I have been a painter and illustrator for over 20 years. My work explores the relationship between our emotional wellbeing and connection to nature. The figures I paint transcend every-day life, they embody the freedom of the coast path and the freedom I gain from practicing yoga. Sketching small coloured studies on the Coast Path inspires me to paint my larger figurative works. I aim to immerse you the viewer in stillness, to take you on a journey back to inner wildness and the wider patterns of nature. I believe that in the ‘felt’ experience we are part of something bigger when we stand on the shore and look at the sea and sky. If you’re lucky you may feel the sun on your back.
A sensory painting experience
I love nothing more than packing my easel and paints to set out at dawn onto the coast path to find the perfect spot to paint. I often return to the cliff walks of Bolt head and Bolt Tail, with ancient hedgerows and woodlands on the look out for little Devon delights of flora that could easily be missed. The light illuminating the sea thrift on the cliffs and melting the dew on the sea grasses. I am discovering more about the native plants that grace this coastline and being still to paint usually gives a chance encounter with wildlife, however small, making my heart sing. The hum of insects, cormorants flying overhead and the rare glimpse of seals on the rocks; it all combines with the sound of my brush on the canvas to become part of this meditation.
A soft colour palette
As I work with my brush with numerous layered washes I aim for each mark to look effortless; as a sculptor would chip away at a block to reveal a form. I use a natural colour palette from my surroundings: blue-green mosses, soft floral pinks and yellows, glints of silver and gold for the first golden rays of the sun touching the waves.
Art to give hope
Art is so important in creating restorative spaces in our homes and offices as we look for new ways of working and living together. I know from my own personal experience how art can help our health and wellbeing, having spent long periods of time over the years with my son in Great Ormond Street Hospital. Whilst navigating corridors and in waiting rooms the art gave us all comfort; a true blessing. In turbulent times I would meditate on the beauty of our small community back home in Devon, the colour and forms of the coast always gave solace.
Art and wellbeing
As artist in residence with the National Trust, I tutored watercolour in the gardens of Overbecks, Salcombe. Painting in the gardens really sparked the visitor’s imagination; encouraging their curiosity. Through the seasons we planned many outdoor activities, including a ‘walk and draw programme’ which captured the main components of the garden and its hidden treasures. Visitors returned often each saying that the day had lifted their mood. They took their own sketches home as a reminder of a day feeling relaxed, invigorated and creative.
A little about me
After studying illustration I lived in a remote arts commune in Scotland. I enjoyed teaching art with the community and celebrating the seasons through nature. My lifelong passion for figure drawing was fulfilled when I was accepted to study in Florence Italy; becoming a student of academic portraiture at the Atelier of the Florence Art. My figurative paintings and prints have gained a number of awards including being named in the Top Ten Best Selling British Artists. Winning the UK Fine Art Trade Guild exhibition award and exhibiting in UK, Dubai and US galleries.
If you would like to view Charlotte’s work, visit her small studio in Kingsbridge near Salcombe. Bring a little piece of South Devon into your home with an original painting inspired by the coast path.