A Rising Tide with Amanda Davidson

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Art swept into Amanda Davidson’s life like lulls in the waves – unpredictable, fleeting and awash with opportunity. 

After the birth of her first child, Amanda’s husband brought home a canvas. As a stay-at-home mum, her breaks from parenting brought on an idleness she often needed to flush out with activity. So, she painted. 

Amanda had always been creative, with a degree in design and marketing on her resume and her old school paints still hidden in her house. Over the next few years, while raising three girls under three she would return to the canvas sporadically. 

“I’d add some paint, and it could sit there for an hour, or it could sit there for three months, and then I’d add another layer and it progressed like that,” she says. 

Eight years later, her finished pieces still echo that spontaneous and patient approach to painting. 

Above a swell of ocean, the sky spills down the canvas in impressionist blues, pinks and golds, as if the waves have splattered it with sea spray. 

On her surfboard, a woman balances on the surface of a wave or slices along the crest.

Characterised by constant fluidity, her studies of female surfers draw us into their personal experiences of stillness and movement in the surf. 

Our cover art, Daisy, captures the brief yet dynamic moment a woman carves across the lip of a wave, spraying us with sea foam. 

Amanda works on a stretched canvas with mixed media, combining acrylic paint, spray paint, paint pens, ink, resin and magazine clippings. 

“I work outside, and I basically pour paint, water and any art medium I need onto the canvas,” she says. “Then I stand it up until I’m happy with the drip, and I lie it flat in the sun until the layer dries completely.

“Once each layer dries, I look at it again and see what it needs, adding all my drips and splashes until I’m happy with the background. 

“Then I’ll sketch the surfer on and collage the surfer’s hair, togs and surfboard out of surf magazine paper. Then I’ll paint the waves and touch up the sky if it needs.”

Borrowing elements of the abstract style, her choices in colour, pattern and texture are instinctive rather than strategic.

“There’s definitely a bit of planning involved, but it’s also a reactive, organic way to paint,” she says. 

Growing up with a ship’s captain for a father, Amanda’s family has always existed alongside and in the water. 

Now, her art is born from beachside memories: breakers chasing the surfboard, saltwater clinging to tangled hair and sleepy, sun-kissed skin.

“A lot of the subconscious decisions I’ve made in my life have been to make sure I’m close to the water at all times,” she says. “When you’ve spent all day in the surf, and you’re slightly sunburnt and crispy, you’re exhausted, your eyes hurt, there’s sand everywhere – I love that feeling.”

In her artwork, the unity between the surf and the female experience comes from a childhood surrounded by strong, positive women. 

“My dad was at sea for half of my life, so it was just me, my mum and my sister,” she says. “My grandmothers and my nan always played a big part in our lives, and now I’ve got three daughters.”

Now, she paints female surfers in powerful and joyful positions, immersed in the vibrant colours of the waves and sky. Each character is given a name and a short biography, whether completely original or inspired by local and professional surfers.

“I want to make the viewer realise that even though the surfer is captured in that perfect moment, they all have a story,” Amanda says. “I also want them to be positive role models for younger girls and women.”

Since she first exhibited her collection at the Immanuel Arts Festival, Amanda’s surfers have reached all ends of the Sunshine Coast and beyond. 

Savvy buyers snapped up her work at the Sunshine Coast Collective Markets; she then went on to exhibit at the Dimensions Arts Festival in Nudgee; International Women’s Day Exhibition at Red Ink Rodeo Creative Studio; and Super Souvenir at Horizon Festival 2018. 

For six consecutive years, Amanda’s work has been recognised in the Noosa Festival of Surfing’s Surf Art Exhibitions and She to Sea Exhibitions. Now she can be found at the Define Art and 4564 Exposure galleries, with a new series of marine lino prints on the way. 

After nearly a decade of exhibiting, Amanda is turning her attention to teaching. This year, she opened her Mixed Media Art School to host art classes, workshops and paint-and-sip sessions for kids and adults. 

“I get to focus in and simplify all my techniques to teach other people and see what they create,” she says. “Often it’s about knowing what to use and how to use it. I want to give people confidence in themselves and their art journey.”

As Amanda expands her mediums and shares her artistic knowledge, she is becoming a force for empowerment – just like the inspiring women she paints. 

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