Geraldton landscape artist Narelle Beaver swept up by water’s alchemy

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Narelle Beaver’s painting of Nazareth House and the Chapman River will be on display in the QEII Art Class exhibition, Splash. The artist is pictured with her dog, Molly.
Camera IconNarelle Beaver’s painting of Nazareth House and the Chapman River will be on display in the QEII Art Class exhibition, Splash. The artist is pictured with her dog, Molly. Credit: Francesca Mann, The Geraldton Guardian

For Narelle Beaver, living by the sea has provided a source of constant inspiration and allowed her to delve deeper into her craft.

Working primarily with acrylics, Beaver creates beautiful, realistic paintings of the watery landscapes around Geraldton, the water appearing to ebb and flow across the canvas.

With a keen eye for detail, it’s hard to believe the mother-of-three has only started taking her art more seriously in the past 18 months.

“I’d been doing water fitness for 23 years and I knew my time in that was over,” she said.

“I thought ‘I need to redefine who I am or even what I want to do in life because I don’t want to do this any more’.

“I knew art was always with me and I wanted to develop it and take it to another level.

“It has slowly developed, and with all these walks on the beach I had such a desire to paint and now I’m away.”

But painting water realistically is no easy feat, as Beaver quickly discovered.

The self-described “wannabe artist” would spend hours watching the ocean and rivers, trying to work out how to add that transparency of water to her paintings while including surface reflections.

After a number of light bulb moments — one during an art class with Helen Beard and another while examining a Larry Mitchell painting — the techniques and tricks Beaver needed started to fall into place.

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to really look at something and go ‘I know how to paint you’.

“It’s only recently that I’ve been able to really look at something and go ‘I know how to paint you’,” she said.

“Before I didn’t know how to do it, so it’s really exciting to be able to do that.

“I want to be able to convey what I see; I’m drawn to the challenge of relating what I see on to the canvas. But it’s not always what you think you see, it’s more about how you view it, which is something I’m learning.”

Growing up in Geraldton, Beaver’s first foray into the art world was through calligraphy, with the artist even developing her own style of font.

The 51-year-old has now moved away from calligraphy, but she’ll occasionally include a scripture in her paintings, adding an extra layer of meaning to her artwork.

VideoPerth artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers has spent two weeks creating an artwork that towers over the Merredin landscape.

After high school, Beaver was eager to study art teaching at university, but her parents encouraged her to start working full-time.

Although Beaver said she was glad she listened to her parent’s advice, her love for art never went away.

“I always felt like I was playing catch-up, I wanted to always get there but never could,” she said.

“I went up to the Pilbara with my husband, John, and did a few TAFE units in composition, theory and design.

“They were developing me as an artist, not necessarily down the road to becoming an arts teacher, but a lot of the technical side of what I do.”

The family moved back to Geraldton around 1997.

Beaver now works part time as an education assistant at Strathalbyn Christian College, giving her more free time to work on her art.

One of her paintings won first prize at the QEII Centre art class exhibition Splash.

It has been acquired by the City of Greater Geraldton and will now be hung at the QEII Centre.

One day she hopes to have a solo exhibition, but for now she said she’s happy developing her skills.

“There’s always something to learn, something you haven’t quite mastered yet,” she said.

“It’s so stimulating, it never ends, and I’m grateful to friends and family that have encouraged me over the years.

“There’s always this self-doubt, but everyone has something to contribute and I think I would have done myself an injustice to put art aside forever.”

For more of Beaver’s art visit the Facebook page Art by Narelle.

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