British artist Nick O’Neill presents a fearsome and fascinating portfolio of undersea creatures. Be sure to visit his website to see more of his work.
Although I have been creating art for as long as I can remember, I have no formal training at all and so my work has progressed by experimentation and trial and error. I believe this has allowed me to develop a style of painting that is very much my own and constantly evolving.
I paint mainly in acrylics and build my pieces up in layers of colour and shadow over a solid background. My trademark is a deep black background, but recently I have been experimenting with gold and silver leaf.
The reason behind my simple backgrounds is to make the subject the sole focus of the viewer. With no distractions, the fish appear to be swimming out from the canvas, giving a striking almost 3D look to the work.
Painting marine life has its own unique challenges. Sharks and rays are some of my most popular subjects and their smooth sleek shapes are defined mainly by subtle shadows and highlights. I use a combination of traditional brush and airbrush to shape their bodies. I then use my hands and fingers to add texture and definition.
Marine fish are all very different, varying hugely in texture, colour, shape and size, so I approach each new piece with an open mind. I sometimes repaint a section several times while trying different techniques until I achieve the result I like .
I was very lucky that I was able to learn to scuba dive at a young age. This started my passion for the underwater world – and sharks in particular.
I have been equally fascinated and afraid of sharks from the first time I went in the sea. As I have grown the fear has turned to respect and their beautiful sleek lines have inspired many of my paintings.
I now use many of my paintings and prints to raise awareness and funds for shark charities around the world.
Nick O’Neill invites you to follow him on Facebook.