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A 20-year Quest to Capture the Oceans

Artist Danielle Eubank, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant awardee and a member of The Explorer’s Club, has almost completed the ambitious expedition to spend 20-years capturing the world's oceans. This year, Eubank is on her fifth and final voyage of the Oceans, travelling to the Southern Ocean. The trip will complete her landmark series of ocean paintings, which will be offered individually and as a collection from 2020.

Today at MC Art, we will be taking a visual expedition through the grand body of work so far.

"A 20-year quest to capture all the world’s oceans."

Arctic Ocean

"Prussian blue waters, ice pillows, frozen earth, and an omnipresent moon.

One of my great passions is exploring the ‘line’ between abstraction and representation in visual art. I turn representational subject matter (notably water) into abstract, formal paintings. With the Arctic Ocean, I am painting the most abstractwaterscape I have ever seen. Normally, I deconstruct the physical forms found in water to create stacks of abstracted rhythms. In this case, the Arctic Ocean already looks abstract before I’ve had a chance to deconstruct it. " - Danielle Eubank.

Arctic I

In Arctic II am aiming for a deeper emotive evocation, marrying natural forms of water with motifs reminiscent of those found in the Pacific Northwest. It’s about creating a deeper connection between human culture and our natural surroundings.

Arctic Waters V

Arctic Waters V is a formal exploration of blues and mauves. At the same time it is about layers of water. Like an apple, there is a superficial layer on top and a meaty middle.

Arctic Floating ICE

These ice pillows surrounded me as I sailed on a 3-masted boat in the Arctic. Mutating from pillows to pancakes, shavings, fuzz, or turquoise snow cones, I painted the fleeting qualities of water just below the permanent ice that covers the Pole.

Arctic Antigua I

The photograph,Arctic Antigua I is a reminder of humankind’s effect on the environment. In places rarely visited by people, the animal life sometimes doesn’t express fear In the same way as in areas where humans are a threat, as evidenced by this walrus.

Atlantic Ocean

"For me the Atlantic Ocean is the cool sea that bathes western Europe, the hot sea that refreshes west Africa, and the forceful sea that batters the eastern United States.

I think of the deepest blues of southern England, almost black on a grey day. I think of drizzle, and fuchsias growing in hedges in western Ireland. I think of the green port in Tema, Ghana, where The Borobudur Ship Expedition finished. I try to imagine what the ancients thought was ‘out there’ beyond the Pillars of Hercules. I think of the purest blue of the water in Cape Town with penguins on the beach. " - Danielle Eubank

Borobudur Reflection

Borobudur Reflection is a painting of the reflection of The Borobudur Ship in Cape Town, South Africa. This painting is about the shapes and the specific color of blue found in this part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Town Waterfront III

Cape Town Waterfront III is study of reds punctuated by light blue at the bottom.

Isle of Mull

I began Isle of Mull with the desire to create something blue and orange. It is based on a boat in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland. After much imagining and sketching I created this image which evolved to include organic shapes punctured by sharp lines.

Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is the most diverse of all the oceans. It can be the palest turquoise, ultramarine blue, or golden orange. It is the warmest ocean on Earth. It is the third largest of Earth’s oceans and covers one fifth of the planet. Due to the melting polar caps, the Indian Ocean is growing 20 centimeters wider each year.

The deepest part of the Indian Ocean is the Sunda Trench which is near the southern part of the Java Peninsula and near where the Borobudur Ship sailed.

The Indian Ocean is the most fun to paint! I spent time in Indonesia, Seychelles, Madagascar, and South Africa while I was Expedition Artist for The Borobudur Ship Expedition and I quickly fell in love with the many colors and shapes found in this ocean. I have been lucky to make many trips back to paint the ocean including while I was the Expedition Artist for the Phoenician Ship Expedition.

Ancol XIII

6am in Jakarta. Ancol XIII is about the colors on the water at first light in the Jakarta Bay.

South Africa​

By depicting the view straight down in a marina in Richards Bay, South Africa, I am capturing the vertigo felt from looking at deep water, a force downward, a psychological race to the bottom. I am making a statement about the unifying preciousness of water by painting all of the major bodies of water on Earth.

Mozambique IX

Mozambique IX is a view from Phoenicia reflected in an oily marina in Beira, Mozambique. I paint the scum of oil on water. Looking for formal elegance linking abstraction and realism is my way of coping with the destruction. The colors I used for this painting were inspired by the colors of clothing I saw people wear in Beira.

Padang Bai III

Some beaches in north Bali have black sand which transforms the color of the water. I’ve added a hint of jukung (canoe) at the top to anchor the image.

Pacific Ocean

"The Pacific Ocean is so large, it is bigger than all the land masses on the planet combined. Thirty percent of Earth is covered by the Pacific Ocean.

I grew up very near it in Northern California. For me, the Pacific is an ocean’s ocean. It is what oceans “should” be, because that was my first exposure. I am certain that someone who grew up next to the Indian Ocean would feel the same way about their ocean. It’s my deep, dark blue neighbor. Actually, I always have thought of it more as a family member than a neighbor because it was always there for me. Always fun. Always interesting. Special occasions are often celebrated with the Pacific Ocean.

It was the first body of water I ever considered drawing. I distinctly remember a time when I was sitting on the beach with my mom and dad when I was about 12 years old, staring at the Pacific. The water was moving, crashing, and creating incomprehensible shapes around the rocks. I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to draw that.” - Danielle Eubank

Puget Sound

In Puget Sound I’m working on the formal landscape, specifically the three stripes of sky, land and sea, as well as the color of light found in north Seattle, Washington. I used a rough texture to evoke the natural rawness of the beach in this part of the world.

Channel Islands Harbor V

I like to explore the relationship between realism and abstraction. Channel Islands Harbor V is a good example of my more “realistic” style. Still, there is no narrative here. The painting is about the blues and golds, cut by the stripe of turquoise one third of the way down from the top.

Santa Monica Pier

Probably my most “realistic” water painting is Santa Monica Pier. I have always been interested in the shapes made by voids in sea foam around piers and other structures. I like to look at them.

Southern Ocean

"I began this project as a challenge to myself. Painting water terrified me. When something terrifies me, taming the fear becomes an objective.

Painting all the oceans on the planet is a lifelong goal. I may very well be the first person to have ever sailed and painted all of Earth’s oceans. Sailing to, and capturing each ocean presents one challenge, creating a body of work that is successful presents another, and finally, painting each body of water with my unique voice is a personal challenge that excites me.

My paintings of the Southern Ocean, like my paintings of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans, will be emotive formal portraits. Each painting I make is a portrait of a specific body of water. By formal, I mean using shapes, color, lines, and texture to create an abstract image. I enjoy using the formal elements, along with composition to evoke emotion in the viewer." - Danielle Eubank.

Danielle will be sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, across the Drake Passage, to Hannah Point, South Shetland Islands, then on to Cuverville Island, and to the Antarctic Peninsula via the Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island including a series of visits to islands like Deception Island, Brabant Island, and as far south as Detaille Island, which takes her across the Antarctic Circle. For the return she will cross the Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Straight, arriving at Melchior Islands, crossing the Drake Passage for a second time, and returning to Ushuaia.

All images and quotes courtesy of the artists website, click below for more.

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