Because she is both an experienced sailor and trained artist, it is not surprising that Maiwenn Beadle’s specially-commissioned marine watercolors have become so successful.
Maiwenn gained an art degree at the University of Northumberland (UK) in 1989, but her realistic watercolors were disdained in favor of the more abstract tendencies in vogue at that time. In disgust, Maiwenn set sail for the south Pacific and New Zealand, which she toured on a bicycle. With good memories but no money, Maiwenn gradually worked her way to the Mediterranean as a stewardess and later as a chef. This latter occupation appealed to Maiwenn’s creativity and she threw herself into it with great enthusiasm and success so that by 1991 she was working on megayachts (in 1998 she was chef on Valsheda).
By 1993, she was able to buy the 18 ft Alacrity, a converted life boat with no engines or electrics, which was to be her home for the next six years.
Having honed her chef’s skills, she went on to gain equally impressive sailing skills with her US 200 tons captain’s license in 1994 and promptly set off to sail round Cape Horn, followed by captaincy of Maya, a 75 ft sail boat, in 1996.
By 1998, she had sailed in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, crossed the Atlantic and taken her Yachtmaster offshore in a force 10 gale in the Solent (UK). In need of a break, Maiwenn decided to sail Alacrity single-handed from Antigua to Grenada. Arriving at the Hog Island anchorage in 1999, she caught sight of the 43 ft Hornblower for sale—and the same day someone offered to buy Alacrity. Why sell her beloved Alacrity, I asked Maiwenn? Well, not being able to stand up straight seemed a good enough reason by then, reckoned 5ft 10” Maiwenn! …and Hornblower became her new home.
Maiwenn worked in Grenada a couple of years as a chef at True Blue, returning to the sea in 2002 to captain Sheerness, a 42 ft race boat. In between sailing and looking after a friend’s house in Martha’s Vineyard, Maiwenn started to paint watercolors seriously, using local boats and landscapes as her inspiration. Her first commission was of the race boat she was running as a wedding present for the owner. She enjoyed a minor success with an exhibition at Harmony Hall, Antigua in 2005, but the turning point came when a friend remarked that nobody wanted a painting of somebody else’s boat, and she completely refocused her aims. Having just completed a six month contract as captain of the Barbuda Express, a 60ft wave-piercing cat, she threw caution to the winds and in 2006 rented gallery space with a colleague just before Sailing Week in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, advertising her specially-commissioned marine watercolors. A painting of Dione Star for the owner’s birthday started it all off and since then she has never really looked back!
With over 50 commissions to her name, she feels that a painting of a boat is more personal than a photograph, though she works closely with photographer Tim Wright, a friend of 10 years’ standing, going through his thumbnails with prospective buyers before deciding on the best shot as subject for the painting.
Renting gallery space has made all the difference; it also serves as a studio (painting on a boat is not ideal …) but it has not all been plain sailing. During regattas, Maiwenn often spends 12 hours a day in the gallery.
She now spends her time sailing for pleasure and attending regattas to sell paintings, particularly in Newport, where she uses a pop-up tent in the absence of gallery space. She also sells limited edition prints and cards of commissioned paintings.
Painting watercolors is not easy and painting watercolors of boats even less so: only an artist who truly knows boats can achieve this, and Maiwenn Beadle certainly fits the picture. For more information, visit www.marinewatercolors.com
Biologist and former Eurocrat Gilly Gobinet took up permanent residence on Antigua in the Caribbean in 1984. She has been painting and writing—and sailing—ever since. Her work can be seen at originalcaribbeanart.com