Our top 5 Australian seascape artists

The ocean as muse is such great fodder for a creative metaphor here and a brag of artistic skill there. And we’ve always been drawn to the symbolism sunk deep in a painted seascape. The best watery paintings can express an artist’s deeply held reverence, can illuminate the boundlessness, the mystery of. Seascapes can layer through centuries of historical lore and legend. The very best can have us smelling and feeling the salt, the wind, sun on skin!

But ocean scenes can be hard to get right – in the wrong hands a coastal render can be positively kitsch – and this is the very reason we are terrified of paintings that include lighthouses and dolphins!

We’ve gathered our top five Australian seafaring painters, the ones we are in love with right now. For us, these creative sea scene stealers go deep, capturing as they do, a moment in time while making meaning through their distinct and individual voices. We love their matchless ways of seeing and we love their sea-telling. We hope you love them too.


Allira Henderson

Allira Henderson

Allira Henderson

Allira Henderson The Southern Wake

From top: Layers, work in progress, Miniature #1, Miniature #2, The Southern Wake, Allira Henderson

Allira Henderson

The Western Australian artist who inspired our Ocean Isle candle was born and raised in painteresque Esperence, a place so far south it is actually in the Great Australian Bite.

Henderson has been studying and painting, entranced by the coastal scenes surrounding her, for more than 20 years. Her work honours her deep connection to the ocean and her place near it and is also inspired by Claude Monet's seascapes and Hemmingway’s classic writings.

‘There’s something special about creating artworks inspired by the coastline I walk. It allows me to connect to my audience through another time and place, the sea breeze swirling through salty hair, the fresh smell of the ocean all about and gentle waves crashing on pure white sand.’ – Allira Henderson

Henderson explores a range of topics and media through her practice – we LOVE the miniatures she paints on weathered wooden bowls and in old sardine cans.

Henderson’s home is isolated, rugged and naturally stunning. Her fisherman husband, Christian has always worked on the ocean and Henderson says she feels lucky to have their children grow up on the same beautiful, white beaches as she did.

Henderson’s pared back style and poetic linework are deceptively simple, gentle studies with a use of colour and a loose expression and thoughtful composition that feels so magically close to the source. The sea, her coastal muse seems part of her. Captured moments extended outwards though her paintbrush only brings us closer to the source.

See more of Allira’s work here. Shop Ocean Isle here.




From top: Surge Tarkine Coast 2020 by Clifford How, The drifts end Takayna, 2021 by Clifford How, A lonely beach was sheltered from the Southern fury, Tarkine Coast by Clifford How


Clifford How

How’s watery paintings capture the magic and sensuality of Tasmania’s coastline.

Living and working in Tassie, How’s work feels through the enormous variations within the isle’s landscape. His dreamy, footprint-empty scenes, shrouded in painterly mist, make us feel that we are witness to a secret place, preserved in time and impossible to find. His dawn and dusk captures pinpoint the moment when the magic happens.

‘I’m constantly humbled by collectors and admirers of my work who inform me that a painting transports them to a location – or that they can ‘feel’ the damp atmosphere in a work, or an abstract application of paint up-close can transform into a tangible representation from a distance.’ – Clifford How

Showing at Handmark Gallery and more recently with Arthouse in Sydney, these paintings make us feel the weather, feel the sea.

See more work here.

 Coledale, August by Paul Ryan

The Point by Paul Ryan

Dead Calm Southern Cross

Black Mirror (diptych)

From top: Coledale, August by Paul Ryan, The Point by Paul Ryan, Dead Calm Southern Cross by Paul Ryan, Black Mirror (diptych) by Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

Ryan’s latest exhibition, Becalmed, has just wrapped at Jame Makin Gallery and once again he has bewitched us with his cerulean ocean blues and iridescent greens, his dips and froths in those trademark flourished impastos.

Ryan’s eighteen months locked down have seen him concentrate his practice in even more to the coastal views surrounding him.

‘This body of work brings together a number of themes and events. As always, it is a continuation of my ongoing exploration of colonial Australia: there are paintings of a becalmed tall ship, and native Australian birds are reflected in mirror-like water surfaces. Another theme I’ve been playing with for over thirty years is the view of my home coast, as seen from the water, viewed from a small boat but unable to make land – the green surge a deadly impasse.

Setting out on a new journey. Destination unknown. Terrified and excited in equal measure.’ – Paul Ryan

Ryan, based in Thirroul, about 1.5 hours south of Sydney is constantly evolving his masterly style. Honed over many years, his evocative mix of beguiling landscape and seascape intersected by personal and lore-ish symbolism is truly unique.

He embraces the poetic and allegorical narrative he’s so good at, tunnelling through his ongoing emotional exploration of light and dark themes and effects, looking for the importance of balance and thoughtfulness in his expressions.

Ryan’s mesmerising and evocative sea paintings are visions that always draw us in, with their seductive, painterly lure. The works feel dangerous and enlightening. He’s a surfer too and we just love the sea he sees and the one he feels through as an artist.

See more work here.


Hornby lighthouse, Fairlie Kingston

Homeward Bound, Fairlie Kingston

The net (Nielsen Park) 2020 Fairlie Kingston

North Curl Curl rock pool 2020 Fairlie Kingston

Above Chinaman’s Beach 2021 Fairlie Kingston

From top: Hornby Lighthouse, Fairlie Kingston,  Homeward Bound, Fairlie Kingston, The net (Nielsen Park) 2020 Fairlie Kingston, North Curl Curl rock pool 2020 Fairlie Kingston

Fairley Kingston

Currently exhibiting a beautiful collection of ceramic reliefs and vessels at Australian Galleries until 5 December, we are only just now discovering the beautiful calm and thoughtful narrative of Kingston, and her symbiotic mix of ceramic and painting mediums. There’s a synergy in her work that harks back to the charm of traditional painted scenes on porcelain as well as classical frescoes and ceramic reliefs. We love her sunlit renderings, glimpses of sea pools and coastal sealines and yes the occasional light house which we guarantee avoids the twee. Kingston’s painterly line work and saturated colours feel so nostalgic, so ‘Christmas holidays’ past.

‘Fairlie Kingston’s deep connection to the coastal environment resonates poignantly throughout her exhibition of recent works, Ocean Pools. A passionate observer of the natural world, Kingston’s distinctive work is alive, uplifting and highly evocative.

This exhibition includes a new series of three-dimensional pieces depicting the iconic ocean pools of Sydney. Fairlie has used a new technique to create the water in these pieces, by experimenting with a powdered glass glaze that, once fired, creates a translucent, cracked glass effect.’ – Australian Galleries

We love the 3D work just as much as the 2D pieces and the addition of the Perspex boxes for this latest show adds a contemporary layer like a perfect memory of nature, taken for granted and trapped like a butterfly’s wings.

We feel instantly connected to these authentic works, reminding us of the carefree Summer days just out of grasp!

See more work here.




Enduring 2021, Michaye Boulter

Inner Worlds, 2021, Michaye Boulter

Half light, 2021, Michaye Boulter

Recurrence, 2021, Michaye Boulter

From top: Temporal 2021, Michaye Boulter, Enduring 2021, Michaye Boulter, Inner Worlds, 2021, Michaye Boulter, Half light, 2021, Michaye Boulter, Recurrence 2021, Michaye Boulter


Michaye Boulter

Another artist from Tasmania, Michaye Boulter’s stunning work is ghostly, moody and wondrously filmic. Her latest show has just wrapped at Bett Gallery in Hobart with its title ‘What Stays Within’, echoes through a ‘sense of self’ and place. This suite of works, some on hand-beaten steel, others on linen and board, present as varied, cloud shapings, like watery droplets and glimpses through time.

‘The masterful paintings of Tasmanian artist Michaye Boulter chart the paradoxical vastness and intimacy of the ocean. Having spent much of her life on the sea, Boulter draws from a wellspring of experience in capturing the transformative and transcendent tenor of the endless ocean.…...’ – Arthouse Gallery

Boulter’s latest works arose from travels around Southern Tasmania – ‘the secluded bays and still waters of Southport Lagoon, Port Davey and Bruny Island’ and for us, the lonely sensuality of her watery reflections with their endless clouds and muted lighting creates a feeling of distance as if we are lost in a misty gaze. Coves and bays present as exteriors that feel very ‘inner-worldy’ and somehow, she makes the hushed pallet vibrant. How does she do that?

There is something of Von Guerard’s from the late 1800s here too, which is perhaps the thing that evokes in us the feeling of being a stranger in this land (as many of us are). There is tranquillity here but also danger and misunderstanding. Still waters run deep.

‘I look for simple truths in the landscape that may be universally experienced, are timeless and transcend place... I look for a landscape we hold deep within ourselves.’ – Michaye Boulter

Visit the website to learn more here





Jennine Primmer

1 comment

Colin Perini????

Steve Higgins June 13, 2023

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