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Who hasn’t stared at the sea and longed for some medium with which to describe its tumult, its comforts, its vastness? Art is a natural venue for the quest to interpret the communion between senses and emotion that we feel in the face of this water world, and from the earliest days painters have strived to add their visions to the mix. Some of my favorites have come from within the surfing community, like Alex Weinstein and Wolfgang Bloch, while others, like Samantha Keely Smith, have come from the world of fine art.

Keely Smith has lived in the States since she was a child, but she was born in England and her work has a decidedly northern sensibility, fury and power tinged with the blaze of fire, bottomless darks suffused with the oblique burning ray cast through a window in a storm cloud.

“My images are not at all real places or even inspired by real places,” she told Neverlazy Magazine last year. “They are emotional and psychological places. Internal landscapes, if you will. The tidal pull and power of the ocean makes sense to me in terms of expressing these things, and I think that is why some of the work has a feel of water about it. My work speaks of things that are timeless, and I think that for most of us the ocean represents something timeless.”

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Unlike Alex and Wolfgang, who are often content to stay in the darker palette, Keely Smith’s oils almost always offer a glimmer of hope, usually conveyed as spots of lighter colors, bright dots of promise, perhaps a coastal city or a reflection of sun or just a small symbol to say that even in the darkest seas, one tiny bit of light is enough to lift the heart.

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For more of Samantha Keely Smith’s work, visit her website, samanthakeelysmith.com.
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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.