On the Oregon Coast, October 2012

Lee Mothes

I have been fascinated by beaches, waves, and the ocean’s energy as far back as I can remember. I grew up on the California coast and began drawing beaches, waves and imaginary places while still in grade school.  

I studied art at California State University at Long Beach, at California College of the Arts in Oakland, and then architecture for a while at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Art at Western Oregon University in 1980.     

In 1987, my wife Vicki and I moved to the Midwest to raise our three daughters. Finding myself suddenly away from the ocean compelled me to spend a lot more time painting it. I have found that I can “be there” by creating imagined beaches inspired by those in California, Oregon and other, further-away places. I often return to the coast for extended trips to “feel” how the waves move and to get new painting and drawing ideas.           

Since 1990 I have been creating and exhibiting my work full-time. In recent years, I’ve also been writing books about my artwork, such as An Artist’s Journey to Nevermore (2014) and The New Island Guidebook (2015).

I work in watercolor, acrylic, and graphite pencil. My current efforts are a balance of creating new ocean-surf artwork and adding content to my New Island project. The place that I call The Commonwealth of New Island is an ongoing combination of writing and artwork about an imaginary island-nation in the Indian Ocean. Find more information here or at newisland.net.

There is no end to this.