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Victoria Chick is the founder of the Cow Trail Art Studio and received a B.A. in Art from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and awarded an M.F.A. in Painting from Kent State University in Ohio. visit her website at www.ArtistVictoriaChick.com
The Art of Seascapes
By Victoria Chick, Artist & 19th & 20th
Century Print Collector
Seascapes are a subject often done by coastal artists and have a following among the public. It was not always so.
It may be helpful to look at seascapes from a historical perspective to understand how they came about in the 17th century and how they have changed in contemporary times.
The painting of seascapes came about during the Age of Exploration. Prior to the
17th century few Europeans, even fishermen, ventured very far from land. Crude compasses
were accurate only to the equator and the unknown areas were feared. Ships were at
the mercy of wind and waves. The Dutch were among the first to engage in long, ocean
voyages as fear was overcome by the prospect of trade and money. Paintings of harbors
and ships were done by Dutch painters to satisfy the market among those whose livelihood
was trade related. This new genre had adherents in all coastal European countries
as well as the United States by the mid-
Several themes developed among seascape painters.
One theme shows Man Against the Elements. The Ocean is seen as a hostile place and Man is pictured as insignificant and overwhelmed by giant waves, monstrous aquatic creatures, and unbridled storms. The feeling projected in this theme is that Man will be the loser.
A second theme shows a ship or ships as the focus. They may be in harbor or under full sail, but the underlying subject is that Man is using the Oceans and is in control. This theme gained in power into the 20th century.
A third theme eliminates Man. The viewer looks at a general coastal scene of Ocean Meeting Shore. Variations in feeling represented are expressed by how calm or rough the sea is, the weather conditions in the sky, and if the coast line is sandy beach, craggy rocks, or cliffs.
Since underwater scientific exploration has been going on, tools have made it possible
to see the oceans in new ways. Some artists have taken advantage of these to paint
composite underwater views, ranging from naturalistic to fantastic.