The ocean and its marvels have been the subject of many historic paintings throughout human history. Many great artists have portrayed the ocean and, profoundly, how it interacts with mankind. They have captured its many various characteristics, from serenity to violence. Some have depicted it as calm and still, while others have shown the sea as raging and dangerous. 

Seascape painting The Great Wave of Kanagawa after Katsushika Hokusai

 The Great Wave after Katsushika Hokusai 

Some famous ocean paintings are The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, The Fighting Temeraire Tugged To Her Last Berth To Be Broken Up by J.M.W. Turner, The Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky, and Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet. 

JMW Turner in particular was considered to be a master of ocean paintings. Many of his seascapes were produced away from the public eye. With an economy that few artists have been able to match, Turner evoked a coastal landscape that he had created countless times before.

Some of his works were ultra realistic and others were even abstract, painting the ocean in simple and restrained shades of blue while leaving the rest of the canvas spare. Many of his works were unfinished, although a substantial number of these paintings found their way into private collections following his death.

Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise

Impression Sunrise by Claude Monet

Cyprus is a small island in the Mediterranean sea. And if you paint your local environment, such as Theo Michael, you can't help to include the sea as a background in your paintings.

Many sunset walks along the beach have inspired Theo as well as the impressive ships that sail along the horizon that can be seen everyday. All of this is featured prominently in his paintings that tell us a story of Cyprus and its daily life, taking us on a visual journey along its impressive and beautiful seascapes.

Back to blog
Seascape painting, an oil painting featuring a beautiful shoreline by Theo Michael

The painting Seascape

Seascape by Theo is a case in point. It captures the tranquil tide moving along the sandy beach. We see the corner of a hillside arching onto the shoreline. We
see two individuals walking into the sea, making their way along the tide, their ankles dipped into the water as they travail the beauty that surrounds them.
We wonder where they are heading and if we look closely we can’t be sure if they are approaching us, the viewer, or walking further away into the distance.
The painting's long and enchanting shade of blue takes us on this journey guiding our eye line from light into darker shades.

Seascape, oil painting by Theo Michael 2009

  • Seascape painting, featuring a violinist in the water. It is the first panel of a triptych by Theo Michael
  • Seascape painting, featuring a violinist sitting on rocks with a spectacular sea view behind her. It is the second panel of a triptych by Theo Michael
  • Seascape painting, featuring a cellist at the water's edge. It is the third panel of a triptych by Theo Michael

Triptych painting Making Music

Making Music is a three part painting that plays on the suggested imagery of fantastical mermaids.
Two women play the violin while one plays the cello. Their dresses sway with imagery in a sublime way that on first glance suggests that they are in fact mermaids, when in reality it is just the way that their dramatic dresses fall. The tide is splashing against the rocks denoting the drama to the music that they are playing.
It is an evocative sight and a dramatic painting by Theo’s standards. In the background we can see more
cliff faces and rocks as the ocean surrounds everything and punctuates the music that we can imagine but cannot hear.

Making Music, triptych oil painting by Theo Michael 2013

  • Seascape painting The Tanker by Theo Michael

Seascape painting The Tanker

The Tanker shows a familiar site to most people who have visited Cyprus. These tanks often sit on the horizon throughout the day, shawling their way through the relatively shallow waters.
In the foreground there is a beautiful sailboat lending size and majesty to the tanker, while
there is another smaller boat close by almost docking with the large tanker.
The water is serene, and the sky is a bright blue. The clouds are lofty and thick, and there is a beautiful calmness to this painting brought to you by the everyday sites that are on display in Theo’s native Cyprus.

The Tanker, oil painting by Theo Michael 2013

  • seascape painting Car With A View by Theo Michael

    Seascape painting by Theo Michael featuring a view from a classic MGA over Limassol bay in Cyprus

  • Seascape painting by Theo Michael, featuring a biker by the shore

    The painting Scent Of A Rose

    features another classically romantic image of a man on a motorcycle by the tide.

    The motorcycle is a classic boxer cruiser and the man sits astride it elegantly with his boots delicately touching down to provide balance. He carries in his hands a small bunch of roses, with one held to his nose to smell. We wonder where he is taking these flowers and who will be the recipient of this gesture. He sits astride the bobber seat with some panache and the whole scene is brought to life with a sense of style and humour rarely seen in Theo’s works. 

    Scent Of A Rose, oil painting by Theo Michael 2016

  • Seascape painting by Theo Michael featuring a classic spitfire car at a petrol station with magnificent far reaching views into the sea

    The painting Spitfire

    features another classic car by a local petrol station with the ocean beyond the railings in view. The car is a brilliant red and the woman’s garb and headdress sways beautifully in the breeze. The petrol station is also blocked in red creating further contrast with the view of the dynamic blue sea.
    This is a woman in control and the subtlety of this power dynamic enhances the painting lending a characteristic and point of view. We are left to wonder where she is heading and a picture in our minds is created of her cruising down the road in her convertible car with the wind in her hair, sure to follow this delicate scene.
    Spitfire, oil painting by Theo Michael 2008

  • Seascape painting by Theo Michael, sunrise a magnificent sun setting scene by the beach

The painting Sunrise

Sunrise is a powerful expressionist depiction of the horizon as the sun rises in the distance. The colours blend together magnificently to create an emotion of passion and fervour. In the foreground we can see a couple embracing creating a sense of perspective and personality.
Are they young lovers or a graceful elder couple who is to say?
This is not a realistic painting, and the magic of its appeal is in the way the colours blur and contrast with each other in stark lines that represent the seas and the sky. What we are left with is a warm feeling that, perhaps, more accurately depicts the sense of a sunset, and its emotion, than might be the case by a more realistic approach.

Sunrise, oil painting by Theo Michael 2004

The magic of the ocean

 As we have seen, the majesty of the ocean has featured in numerous examples of great classical art, as well as abstract art, variously celebrating the tranquility and passion of the seas. The key is often in how the ocean interacts with mankind and it is here that Theo excels creating drama and narrative with the characters that he creates.
Wherever Theo has been he has been inspired by his surroundings and Cyprus is after all a beach island being so small at only 141 miles east to west and 60 miles north to south.
In Cyprus the ocean is never very far away, and therefore the same is true in Theo's body of work, where the seas are sure to feature on a regular basis.
For, as John F. Kennedy said of the ocean, "We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back
to the sea, whether it is to sail or watch - we are going back from whence we came."

Author Marc Michael, July 2022