Beach Party, by Jenny Watt Colbeck
Beach Party, by Jenny Watt Colbeck

Jenny Watt Colbeck finds peace in coastal paintings

Aberdeenshire artist Jenny Watt Colbeck’s latest paintings ask us to disconnect from modern life and escape into the blue.

The bold colours, the fine details and the abstract imagery in her collection of boat paintings invite a moment of reflection.

An artist and an art tutor living and working in Kincardineshire, Jenny divides her time between teaching, gardening, her family and creating graphic-style paintings that depict Scotland’s seascapes, landscapes and quirky architecture.

For Jenny, her paintings are a way of communicating a sense of wellbeing.

She said: ‘We don’t take time to stop and have quiet and silence. I’m a great believer in finding a good place in that quietness, it restores you.’
Studying ceramics and woven textiles at Gray’s School of Art, she chose instead to pursue a career in painting. However, her distinct style certainly acknowledges an artistic upbringing in design– using flat colours, textures, simple shapes and layers of colour, she explains that her approach is both ‘extremely graphic and almost illustrative’.

Beach Party, by Jenny Watt Colbeck

Jenny’s paintings carry strong cross-cultural influences and she reveals that her time spent time living in Denmark and travelling around Scandinavia has cemented a love of clean lines and simplicity in design.

Inspired by the Danish artist colony at Skagen with their use of light and colour in coastal settings, she is also interested in the graphic qualities of Japanese prints and 1930s travel posters.

Opting for acrylics, acrylic inks and occasionally gouache, she uses fine pens for details, sealing her paintings with a matte finish. Her acute attention to detail also extends to the ash frames, which are hand-finished and stained to match a specific painting.

Unlike other artists, Jenny takes a methodical block approach to her artwork, being of the belief that it is ultimately more productive.

She said: ‘I do tend to spend periods of time on one thing and develop it, then go back. It is very methodical; it’s a bit like design.’

While Jenny’s paintings are certainly Scottish, with names like Sandbar Blues, Soul Mates and The Cuddle it is difficult to assign them a certain region or location.

Jenny Watt Colbeck’s Sandbar Blues

She revealed: ‘I don’t do people, although a lot of it is to do with personalities.

‘Lots of my work is the West Coast but some of it’s the centre and because I never ever put names to them, it could be anywhere so people can relate to them far more easily.’

With work currently on exhibition at the Milton gallery in Crathes, Jenny aspires to transcend the Scottish border and sell more of her work down south and even further afield. A multi-talented artist, she also hopes to tell the story of her paintings through poetry.

She added: ‘I used to write poetry just for myself and I have done some for my paintings. That is in the pipeline, in the next year or two I’m going to start writing more and almost illustrating the paintings’.

If you look long enough, you might just retreat into the muted tones of Jenny’s paintings and enjoy a moment of tranquility.

She concluded: ‘Behind all of my work is a desire for people to look at my art and find a quiet place in amongst all the busyness of our lives. I’m trying to show in my painting that you just sometimes need to take some time out and find that quiet place’.