One of the joys of a digital marketplace like Instagram or Pinterest, is how global these portals into other worlds are. We’re no longer confined to the artisans in our zip code, but have the scope to discover and admire products, services, people and brands thousands – or in this case – tens of thousands of kilometres away. Nina Brooke and her coastal inspired artwork is one such long distance love. Based between her studios in Rock (in Cornwall, UK) and West London, Nina conjures up scenes of sea, sand and surf from diverse beaches across the globe and makes them her own with her colourful acrylics and distinctive abstract style. *
Earlier this month we caught Nina at her solo exhibition in the iconic neighbourhood of Notting Hill to find out how this seemingly idyllic career came to be and what – and where – is next on her artistic itinerary.
Talk us through your journey to full-time seascape artist. How did this become your 9-5? Or 8 – 8! I grew into this role slowly and organically over time. And it’s defiantly become an 8-8 rather then a 9-5 recently! To be honest in no way did I want to be an artist at school or University. Being a traditional artist was not appealing to me. I wanted to travel and work with other creative people. So I went into design. Looking back, I couldn’t escape the art scene, all my family were practitioners. Throughout my education I was always painting seascapes despite what I was studying. I just really enjoyed it and I never put pressure on my work. From 16 I was selling my work to the public and had exhibitions every year or so. After a few years working as a freelance Sportswear Designer, I was still painting in my spare time and I did a show in London with a new collection of aerial seascapes. This show was a game changer for me, my best friend turned around and said “Why don’t you just try being an artist for six months. You don’t have to commit to it forever!” So I dropped my day job and became a full time seascape artist. That was three years ago and I’ve never been happier. * Can you describe your creative style for us? Happy and playful. I like to keep things as I see them – full of life and moment, colour and form. The aerial concept plays with the connectivity we humans have on our beautiful coastlines. And how we spend our time on the planet. Dashes or colour, fearless brushstrokes. You can’t hold fear inside the paintbrush to work abstract. There are rough guidelines to follow as an abstract artist. As long as you stick to those you’ll be fine! * And your typical process when starting a new piece?
There are no hold backs at the start – just chuck as much colour as you can on the canvas. See where it takes you. I usually have a rough aerial image in my head before I start, and an idea of a colour palette I want to use. But the more the colour the more the depth in the painting. * Where can some of your canvas be found around the world? Any cool stories of how people / places discovered you? I did a show in Sri Lanka last year in collaboration with the boutique surfers hotel called Ceylon Sliders, so there are a few paintings hanging out there. This was a very memorable trip – surfing at Fisherman’s Reef and painting in the hotel everyday. It was a really special time. I also exhibited in Oahu, Hawaii, where all the paintings were created on the island and showcased an awesome boutique gallery. The work I make back in the UK is sent all over the world each week. I hope to keep on travelling and working on collections based around the world from an aerial perspective. Every country and place has a different culture and landscape to depict, this is what I find so compelling. * Transport us Australians to Cornwall. What makes the setting of your studio so special?
It always has a very fresh atmosphere – the vastness of the coastline and sea makes it easy to clear your mind. Most of the countyside is surround by the ocean. So wherever you are in Cornwall – you can pretty much smell or see the sea – you are no more then 20 minutes away from it. My studio is a 10 minute walk to the sea and a 10 minute drive to the surf. You don’t need much in Cornwall. It’s simple, pure and contented living. The winters are pretty intense… most of us try to get away for the winter or least a few weeks of it. * Other corners of the globe that inspire your work? I have been inspired by the coasts of Australia, but yet to come and see it for myself. I find Europe is also really inspiring, especially the Balearics and Greece where the sea is different colours, the sands are unusual shades with a splattering of colourful parasols, the coves are filled with boats and and the waters with swimmers. * What have been the best platforms for showcasing, sharing and essentially marketing your art? I’d say it a real mixture of word of mouth and social media. A few events like solo exhitbions have been great but it’s been a long journey because it’s has just been me doing it all. * Work highlights of this year so far? Work highlights of this year would include the exhibition out in Hawaii. Flying all my paints out there and painting as I travelled around from island to island, catching the swell and jumping in at every opportunity. I documented each step of the way taking two lovely Cornish girlfriends with me – we had such a laugh, plus it was a wonderful success work-wise. Home highlights would have to be my recent week-long pop-up show on one of London’s busiest streets, Portobello Road. The collection had 3-4 large paintings based on aerial seascapes of some of my favourite locations on the planet. Translating what I do and my online presence into a live show where people can see the work in the flesh was so enjoyable and rewarding. * What are your professional hopes/dreams/plans for 2019? To keep travelling the world for work – painting in beautiful locations and doing bespoke pieces / collections / collaborations with creative minds. * Any advice for people wanting to make their craft their living? Don’t run before you can walk. Give yourself time to master your craft. Make a living when you are ready to make a living from it. Enjoy the craft first. Once you’re onto something you feel confident in, it becomes much easier for you to be making a living from it and selling it. Don’t criticise yourself too much either, you’re always doing much better then you think you are!