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Lynne Roebuck (Handwritten)
Painting of a lively sea and calm seagulls near Whitby

Sea painting:‘Saltwick Nab’

A sea painting in oil on canvas, and a light-hearted artwork.

If you're familiar with the seaside town of Whitby in the UK, you'll know exactly where this is.

If you stand on either of Whitby's harbour walls and look down the coast, you'll be able to make out these distinctive rocks in the distance.

The rocks sitting on the horizon are called 'Saltwick Nab', and I believe it's not a naturally occurring formation. It's man-made.

It was created when Alum mining was active on the Yorkshire coast. I'm not sure why these shapes were left – I can only assume there was no alum present?

original studio oil painting

  • Artwork Size: 41 x 41 cm (16 x 16 ins)
  • Medium: oil
  • Ground: canvas

Whenever I've visited, the ocean between Saltwick Nab and the harbour has more often than not been lively. Big waves splashing on to the harbour wall are not unusual.

Of course the seagulls take it all in their stride, resting on the port wall facing into the wind, while no one's around.

This sea painting does not take itself too seriously. The water is painted with fun and energy in mind, inspired by the delight of witnessing the big swells that roll in on this part of the coast on a bracing day at the seaside.

How I made this seaside painting

This art is just one of a growing collection on this site inspired by Whitby and the sea.

I started with a very small thumbnail painted in Gouache in an idle moment (Illustrated above top/left). The thumbnail was no more than three inches square, if I remember correctly (I don't know where the original landscape art miniature is, in order to check!)

As you can see, I originally thought about a couple walking with their little dog. As the painting progressed, though, I decided they were too distracting and painted them out. That's because the painting is all about the rocks and the sea.

When I came up with the idea, I'd been wondering how I'd paint the sea in a similar way to my seascape linocuts.

While I'd managed to figure out most of the painting in the tiny thumbnail, painting the finished version proved an adventure. Painting the sea foam at the alrger size troubled me for sometime before I settled on an approach I was happy with. At first it was far too serious and jarred with the fun of the bouncy waves.