Dividing her time between coast and city, Nao McDowell paints spacious canvases inspired by the great beauty that exists within the orderly structures and patterns of the natural world.
McDowell was born in Cambridge, graduated with a degree in Ecology and then studied Fine Art at Oxford Brookes. In the beginning, she spent days at a time cycling around London, capturing interesting planes and angles of the city’s architecture with her camera and sketchbook. Through these investigations, she became increasingly interested in the wonders of the natural world, fascinated by what seemed to be ordered colours and architectural lines which have occurred organically, without any human intervention.
Preferring to paint ‘en plein air’ (out on location), McDowell spends as much time as possible visiting beaches and coastal paths, often on the south coast of Devon, or sailing round the west coast of Scotland. Always with a sketchbook and pencils to hand, her inspirational artworks have been described as radiant abstractions of landscape and coastline.
After sketching and photographing a scene, McDowell breaks it down into architectural shapes – horizon lines, blocks of cloud, of unexpected peaks and troughs created by the wind on the surface of the sea. When she returns to her London studio, she uses this extensive source material to create luminous representations of the environment she has just experienced.
The boldness of her palette and the confident, impasto laying on of the paints cannot hide the sensitivity that lies beneath the surface of her work - these paintings have a strong underlying message of emotional engagement and express the artist’s love and appreciation of creation.
“I am inspired by the creative order I see in the world around me and love translating the colours, textures and moods of the natural landscape back onto canvas.”