Samantha French has a knack for capturing the essence of water movement in her oil paintings.
“It looks chaotic up close, but there’s a rhythm to it,” she says.
Inspired by childhood summers spent around the lakes of her native Minnesota, French’s work depicts swimmers underwater and above.
“[Summer] is usually an escape for people in many ways,” she explains. “A lot of my work is made out of that escapism and the nostalgia that I have for the quiet, tranquil and weightless feelings of being suspended in water… or drifting in and out of sleep, sundrenched and poolside.”
French takes her own reference photos and mixes different shots together to create the perfect vision. “Sometimes, this part of the process is longer than the actual painting,” she says. And she tends to draw things out in pencil before diving in, because of the precise nature of portraits and realistic imagery: “I try to block in large shapes and values, and then I keep layering on top of those, adding or subtracting details as I go.”
“I do consider myself a figurative painter, but the reflections and refracted light of water add an abstract quality to my work,” she continues. “Having the figure as a reference point allows me to focus on those abstractions…and discovering how the two react with one another, such as how the light bouncing off the skin mimics the ripples in the water above, is very fascinating to me.”
Ultimately, French hopes her paintings make viewers feel like they’ve been transported to new places. “People are always going to bring their own references and perceptions to the work. It’s less about conveying my personal thoughts and more, to me, about getting across a feeling,” she says.
This article first appeared in the August 2022 issue of AQUA Magazine — the top resource for retailers, builders and service pros in the pool and spa industry. Subscriptions to the print magazine are free to all industry professionals. Click here to subscribe.