Peter Goodhall is a Devon based artist living in Sidmouth. He is well known for his paintings of the sea .

Surf, Sun & Sand X11

What draws you to the sea as a subject matter?

I’m sure that the sheer scope of opportunities to paint the sea will keep me going for the rest of my life, and I began painting the sea at quite an early age! As a small child I remember being fascinated by how the sea could be completely different from one day to the next. The seed was sown, it was on my doorstep and I was going to paint it in all its moods. 

By the time I was a teenager I was into historical sailing ships and constantly wanting to paint them battling against the elements. Later I began to look more inquisitively at how light played on the surface of water, how patterns were created by the movement of water and then how shapes viewed through water became distorted by a combination of these factors. Then the challenge set in about discovering how to paint those characteristics. 

Some of my more recent seascapes have drifted away from the photo-realistic style that I was using and are beginning to have a very slightly more impressionistic style. With some visible brushwork and a tiny bit of impasto texture making an appearance.

I never was one to paint in just one style – the sea changes too!

“A Fish on Sale on Sidmouth Beach”

Can you tell us about your painting ‘A Fish Sale on Sidmouth Beach’, it’s influences and your interest in local history?

Perhaps one of the best known paintings from the Newlyn School is the Stanhope Forbes´ painting ‘A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach´. Such a masterful painting and for years it has been one of my favourite paintings both in terms of the subject matter and the painting technique. In this homage to Stanhope Forbes I wanted to relocate the fish sale to one of my local beaches. The central figures remain the identifying component and everything else is worked around my interpretation of what could have been happening on Sidmouth beach in the late 19th century when the boats came ashore with the fish. The wooden boats that I can remember on Sidmouth beach would have followed the same design for many years. The line shapes of boats being launched from beaches are specific to the typical sea conditions of each locality. So Cornish boats would have been inappropriate for Sidmouth beach. There was a time up until about a century ago when Sidmouth beach had many fishing boats working from it.

Over the years I have painted and drawn numerous historical events that have happened in the area around Sidmouth. Lifeboat launches and rescues, the Duchess of Devonshire paddle steamer wreck in 1934, sailing vessel wrecks – it is quite interesting just how many wrecks there have been, even a hovercraft but I haven’t painted that one yet, it’s not been quite long enough yet!

I find researching for my nostalgic and historical paintings particularly interesting and rewarding. It can be quite surprising what can be discovered about something that is familiar or seen everyday even if it has undergone changes over time. All is in the detail and there’s usually a lot of that in these paintings. I have frequently incorporated the view along the coast towards the west from Sidmouth just to enable me to paint where my old cliff top studio was and I know that bit of shoreline like the back of my hand.

“Liberty III

Liberty III is a limited edition print from your award winning Liberty series. What is the background to this series of works?

The distortions on a submerged figure are often intriguing. I began to look into the idea of capturing those distortions on nudes in the late 1970s when I shot some slide film and produced the first oil painting. That painting was to become my first trans-Atlantic sale long before the internet and a few more followed but somehow I lost those slides. Decades later I found them and immediately painted from them again. The new series was titled Liberty, the first one won an Artist of the Year Award for me in 2011 and has also won additional international awards. Together with others from the series picking up more awards, Liberty I and Liberty III are available as limited edition prints. These are canvas prints that aim to capture the look of the original oil paintings and are presented in a contemporary style with the image continuing around the outer edges just like the originals, so no framing is necessary. Liberty I is also available on archival paper within the edition for framing behind glass.

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