Latest work from UK's top marine artist

The sky darkens, the yacht heels, the seas crash aboard and then are frozen by the magic brush of artist Martyn Mackrill.

His pictures all tell a story. Although we are looking at a single scene we know what has happened or what is about to happen or both. Mackrill’s pictures are not so much a still life as a life stilled.

The blue sky is changing – partly blotted out by low, darkening cloud. The crew aboard the sweet-lined yacht with majestically cut, cream-coloured sails have been revelling in a summer breeze. Now, suddenly the yacht seems over-canvassed. They are about to jump to action stations and take in a reef.

This week his latest exhibition opened at Messum’s, 8 Cork Street, London W1S, Tel: 020 7437 5545, Many canvasses were soon covered with the red spot of ‘sold’ as more than 60 art collectors gathered to look at his work.

It is not surprising that Mackrill is emerging as Britain’s leading marine artist as he understands from first hand what he is painting. He owns Nightfall the 1910 gaff cutter which he sails, with wife Bryony, from her moorings in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, to the West Country, Channel Islands and South Coast. He has seen, heard, felt and tasted what a Channel sea is like in all its variations as a result there’s as much salt on his brush as oil when he paints.

He told me recently that painting a yacht is like painting a portrait: you have to engage technically with the subject getting to grips with dimensions, angles, and the way the light falls. Painting the background is very different: ‘Painting the sky and sea you get emotionally involved, as, in the elements, the narrative is there for us all to feel.’