Amanda Wheeler - Ocean Artist
Introducing Amanda Wheeler, one of the Isle of Wight artists who has kindly donated an original piece to the Bopha School Of Art Night that is taking place at the Ventnor Arts Club on November 12th.
“Here,” said Amanda Wheeler, her blonde hair falling across her shoulders. “Look through this, then sketch out what you see.”
I followed the instructions; took the small mount board frame and looked through like it was a pair of those pretend cardboard glasses that I had as a child. The sweeping scene before me was instantly cropped into a square, the curve of a hill and a lane like a ribbon weaving through.
“Now move it around until you find an area you like. Start to draw - and draw quickly. Capture lines and shapes and scribbles.”
We were sitting on the side of the downs, surrounded by gorse boasting butter yellow buds, cushions of Scottish thistles and before us was a landscape of woodland trees, hills and glistening blue sea.
Amanda (Mandy) Wheeler, my delightful friend who is also a talented artist, was attempting to teach me to sketch like a landscape artist.
But more than that, she was also gently showing me how to push my fingers into my illustration work and make it crumble, pull apart at the seams, find the movement and the essence within it and get messy with what I was making.
And I was keen to learn everything I could.
You see, Mandy paints in the way that the sea toys with swimmers. Rather like an unexpected wave on the shoreline, her paintings draw the viewer in with a giddy speed, turn them around in a barrel, pirouette them in mid-air, then place them mischievously back on a soft curve of high ground, in beautiful, laughing hues.
Her work is breath-taking and joyful.
Other times still and peaceful.
And sometimes lapping and lulling, offering a subterranean window into a hidden place that you half recognise but aren’t sure if you do.
She is a maven of movement and expression. Her sketchbooks are full of quick marks and curving lines that she transfers to canvas, then infused with mood and colour and emotion. Increasingly popular, Mandy’s paintings sold out at the August 2022 Binnel Open Studios and she also exhibits at the Seaview Art Gallery.
I was keen to learn everything I could about her process, style and inspiration.
“My paintings are a representation of how I feel more than what I see,” Mandy tells me. “I like to use a lot of colour and it sometimes uses a bit of artistic license. I would say I’m a semi abstract landscape artist but I do like to shake it up a bit . Sometimes its wild and crazy and sometimes calm.”
“I’m seduced by coastal beauty,” she continues. “For me, it’s all about the coast whether its Cornwall or the island. I love to travel. I always go to the coast, in fact I find it challenging to go somewhere and not have the sea around me.”
When she isn’t painting in her idyllic space at Binnel Studio in St Lawrence, I happen to know that Mandy can often be found wild swimming at one of the many rugged little coves on the southern side of the Isle of Wight. A few summers ago she gathered myself and some friends at her little Crab Shed Café and laid an array of seaweeds out on the tables, sharing her inks and paints and letting us spend a day painting the frills and feathery tendrils of the rock pool botanicals.
Like the ocean that surrounded our island home, Mandy is generous. Generous with her beautiful artwork, her inks, her time, her kindness, her warmth and her guidance. That day on the hill she showed me, a novice creative, how to untangle the nets of her illustrative style and cast them outwards, unfettered.
More recently, Mandy has extended her kindness again and donated a beautiful piece of original artwork for the Bopha School Art Auction that I am holding to raise money for the Bopha School Project in March.
This is the piece.
It’s called “Wild Crimson and Teal”.
Isn’t it beautiful?
If you would like to own this beautiful piece and want to bid, pop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll explain what to do. In the meantime, check out Mandy on Instagram, where you can see lots more of her work.