Rockpools and Sketchbooks: Seaside Inspiration With Giles Ward

Giles Ward Red Shore Crab - Original

As summer seems to finally be here, are you finally enjoying the taste of ice cream and the sound of waves on the beach? We love our trips to the seaside with all the joy they bring—yes, even the blustery winds and sand in your sandwiches?

A few months back, we had an inspiring visit from the sea life artist Giles Ward. It was an excellent opportunity to talk about our memories of coastal day trips: the thrill of the wide open beaches, the taste of salt in the air, and the wonder of getting lost in the secret world of rockpools.

Oh, We Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside

Giles Ward piece, I'd Like to Be - a vibrant octopus on a purple background

In Giles’ book See Life, he eloquently shares how he was captivated by the often-overlooked beauty of tiny creatures.

“We’ve all done it; paused on a beach walk and crouched beside a rockpool. The surface is still, a drift of seaweed occasionally sighs on the pool’s surface and we think there’s nothing to see. Linger a little longer and, slowly but surely, a whole world of activity starts to announce itself. A sea anemone stretches its tentacles, a tiny blenny darts between crevices, a shore crab peeps out to see if the coast is clear. The longer we look, the more we see. This is where my love affair with life in the sea began: in the bottom of a yellow plastic bucket of rockpool finds.”

Nowadays, Giles starts with photographs, then oil and canvas, but builds these pieces layer upon layer; he brings in other media like acrylics and spray paints, then natural textures such as sand and crab shell. Amazing techniques which create stunning works with an almost sculptural feel. 

Back then, however, Giles would scoop up a portion of this minuscule marine world and sketch it. He’d find himself drawn into the multitude of textures and characters there in his bucket - an exciting community with movement and personalities waiting to be shared. 

Will you be embarking on a seaside adventure this summer? Whether in the UK or beyond, there's always something fascinating to uncover if you take the time to look.

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