By Jackie HOUCHIN
“Water, water, everywhere …” is your first amazed impression upon entering the Tujunga home and studio of artist Danielle Eubank. Large canvases of liquid beauty grace the walls in blues and aquamarines with swirls of beige, black, ochre, burnt orange and brick.
To the uneducated eye, the paintings seem abstract, even fanciful. But after listening to the artist’s stories of world travel (painting three of the earth’s five oceans), you begin to see in her waterscapes the reflections of those exotic harbor buildings and wharfs, and the sails, masts and hulls of tall ships and fishing boats. Hardly ever do you see the object; only its reflection. It’s as if you are gazing at the water over the side of a boat or dock.
“People ask me why I go to different places to paint water. Doesn’t it all look the same, they ask. I answer by asking the same question about painting mountain ranges. Are they all the same? People need to really look. Water is different everywhere.”
Eubank then walks around her studio pointing out waterscapes from Venice, Italy, from Mozambique, from London, and from Marina Del Rey; all of them different but very recognizable.
She points to a painting showing glassy swells of browns and oranges with smudged dots of yellow-white.
“This water reflects a sun struggling to shine through the polluted sky in Indonesia,” she explained.
A frozen fountain-pool in Switzerland is painted in crisp shards of blues and whites. Gray and black ripples on another canvas reflect winter trees in a foggy London rain puddle.
Currently Eubank is showing 50 paintings in the Thompson Gallery, Marylebone, London. Some are representational (lifelike objects); others more abstract, all depicting and interpreting moments and memories from her adventure aboard the Phoenicia, a replica of a Phoenician ship, circa 600 B.C. that boasts being “made entirely of wood and accurate down to the nails and single massive sail.”
The ship, on a voyage to prove that the ancient Phoenician mariners were the first to accomplish the trek, sailed clockwise around the circumference of Africa – a 20,000-mile voyage that took two years to complete. Eubank was aboard as “exhibition artist” for two of the journey’s 12 legs – from Syria to Mozambique and through the Straits of Gibraltar at the end. Midway, she flew ahead to South Africa to paint the ship while it was in the harbor.
This was not Eubank’s first experience at being an artist in residence aboard a ship. In 2002-2003, she participated in the Borobudur Expedition from Indonesia to Ghana on an 8th Century double-outrigger sailing vessel.
Former British Royal Navy officer Philip Beale, who captained both boats, was so impressed with Eubank’s work from the Borobudur that he invited her again for the Phoenicia Expedition.
“The artwork that she has produced is critical to this project, because it allows viewers to participate in the voyage and experience the travel themselves through her interpretation of the water that surrounded us every day,” he said.
With her husband Fletcher Beasley, a music writer for film and television, and their 2-year-old daughter Severine, Eubank attended the gala opening reception at the Thompson Gallery in early July that ran through July 24. Ten percent of the proceeds from that show were donated to The Phoenicia Foundation, which provides opportunities for underprivileged students from schools on the Phoenician coast that include modern day Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.
Back in her cozy home in the Tujunga hills, Eubank is eager to connect with the community. She has a presentation ready – with slides – of the Phoenicia’s journey and her paintings that she is willing and able to share with any civic groups. She’s also looking for a local gallery to exhibit some of her art and is hoping to arrange studio visits for locals.
Meanwhile Eubank is finishing a commissioned five-foot by six-foot waterscape on the waters of Mozambique. While she paints, she listens to the news (“I’m a news junky!” she said) and thinks about how her next series of paintings will go. The subject is the Henley Royal Regatta rowing competition, a posh English event similar to Ascot for horses. How to paint the Thames, she ponders? Representational or abstract?
“I don’t know – yet,” she grins.
To learn more about Danielle Eubank, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.