Acclaimed painter Lauren Esplin says she feels most herself with her feet sunk deeply into the sand, cool sea on her skin, and taste of salt on her lips. This evocative description lends itself to the stunning works she creates, the viewer instantly transported to the distinct beauty and raw-edged power of the Australian coastline.
Beach Culture is deeply entrenched in human nature and Lauren’s contemporary paintings combine abstracted coastal landscapes featuring emotive markings with detailed figures that echo the familiar. This intriguing juxtaposition is a signature of the artist’s style, drawing the viewer effortlessly into the paintings, wrapping them in innate understanding.
The merging of impressionist, abstract and figurative styles form a response to the landscape that connects deeply to the human psyche. Sandstone pinks, dove greys, verdigris, teal and turquoise form a soft background, while the colour of hot sun on sea-splashed skin finely realised in perfectly created human form is the active subject of each work.
Slouched at the water’s edge, two women are in deep reverie; a couple run along the beach, hand in hand; a group hurls themselves into the cool ocean; while yet more fly from the clifftops, arms outstretched. Each work captures a joyous sense of freedom, the release a day at the beach promises. You can hear and smell the ocean, feel the sun on your skin, and imagine the first sizzling steps into the cool water.
“There is a reason we flee to the sea for our weekends and holidays. It is a both a healing and contemplative environment and a joyful place, and it is this feeling I want to bring into our homes” Lauren explains.
Lauren lives and works on Guringai country in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, and it was in a scout hall near Curl Curl Beach many years ago that she learnt her craft, painting with a group of female artists belonging to a local art collective.
“Their diverse range of styles impressed upon me, and the nurturing atmosphere helped me through a difficult time in my life propelling me on this journey. I will never forget their impact”.
She explains, too, that her creation process starts with just a moment in time: “It’s about the way the landscape makes me feel rather than the landscape itself. I look to capture the moment, not as it was, but as it was felt”. And this emotion is captured in the figures Lauren paints, their response to the environment a central theme in her work, the joy of human connection with the living world.