Paul Garling

Oils, Pencil, Pen & Ink.

Born at Walgett, NSW in 1975. As a boy while living in Narrabri, holidaying on the coast instilled a deep reverence for the sea and boats. At that time the family boat was a small runabout and the magic words from dad of “let’s take the boat for a run” were always eagerly awaited.

Moving to Dubbo in 1985 the family built a holiday cabin at nearby Lake Burrendong. This also saw the purchase of a bigger boat and every weekend was spent on the water.

At this stage Paul was already obsessively making models of his favourite vessels and drawing anything from Battleships to racing powerboats. Upon leaving school Paul moved to Sydney and spent every spare moment on the harbour drawing the working boats, yachts and general harbour activity. Commissions for his works soon filled his time along with accolades from exhibitions.

In 2000 Paul returned to Dubbo to be with family.

Paul’s great forebearer, well known marine artist Frederick Garling, is noted for painting every ship to enter Sydney Harbour between 1825-1870. As a member of the Australian Society of Marine Artists, Paul feels, “it is almost cliché for painters saying they try to capture the mood, light, feeling etc. of a scene. For me as a marine artist, technical accuracy of the subject is paramount. Wind direction, sea conditions, vessel construction etc. all play a part when considering my work. A specific ship requires the study of it’s plans before starting the picture. A sound knowledge of the subject and strong imagination combine in my work and this then creates the mood or
feeling in the picture. My passion for all things nautical goes beyond the visual or emotive response. It’s one of those unexplainable things. Maybe it’s in the genes”.

Marine artist Paul Garling has for many years spent countless hours honing his craft in the famed boating town of Paynesville, Victoria. The acclaimed painter talks about the things that really float his boat.

ARTIST Paul Garling has been wielding a paint brush professionally for the past seven years, and in that time has established himself as a standout in the specialised world of marine art.

With frequent trips to the Hunter Valley where his main outlet is found the renowned Morpeth gallery his paintings are in ever increasing demand after spending many years refining his craft in the popular Victorian seaside resort town of Paynesville – often referred to as the boating capital of the Gippsland Lakes. Renowned for its luxury yachts, the town proved a fertile location for a marine artist with a love of painting seascapes and boats.

Marine artists specifically paint seascapes, rivers, yachts and sailing ships and because he works on site he will be provided plenty of new painting opportunities as he moves around the country painting our waterways. Garling comes from a talented family, with salt air running thickly through his artistic veins. His forbear, Fredrick Garling, was a highly acclaimed marine artist who is said to have painted every ship entering Sydney Harbour between 1825 and 1870.

His mother Jannette, who lives in Dubbo, was a talented painter in her own right and Paul recalls a childhood rich with comforting memories of her seated before an easel mixing paint.

With a well-established creative streak running through the Garling family it surprised no one that his brother, Brett, also turned to painting. (Brett “Mon” Garling lives in Wongarbon and also paints plein-air landscapes, as well as sculpting in bronze.)

In the future, the brothers would love to have an exhibition together to platform their collective talent.  There are very few marine artists who earn their living solely from their paintings, but Garling counts himself among the lucky and hard working few who have achieved their dream.

A love of boats drew him to marine art and a commitment to his creativity has kept him painting solidly for years.

“You just have to do it; you have to take the chance, there’s only so many tomorrows,” he says of following your passion.

“I’ve always had a love of boats and water – I go a bit funny if I’m not near the water,” he says, laughing.

Boats were not always the number one attraction for the artist however – as a youngster, he developed a love of trucks developed while living in the NSW town of Narrabri.

“I had it down to a fine art – all my favourite trucks would come past and I’d check the truck timetable. I was only seven years old.

“My father was the school principal and he we lived next door to the school and he tried to organise with a few of my favourite trucks to stop so I could look through them.”

The move to Dubbo followed soon after and the family purchased a cabin at Burrendong Dam, along with a boat.

“That’s when I just fell in love with boats, I thought bugger the trucks, boats are so much better.”

Making balsa model ships also become a fascination as did body building in his teen years.

At age 17 Garling won the Mr Australia body building title, and at 20, the world championship in Melbourne.

Even while he was concentrating on a body building career in Sydney, his fascination with art drew him to Darling Harbour where he would sketch boats on his days off from the gym.

After taking out some of the biggest titles in the body building industry, Garling eventually stopped competing after finding the next level of the industry “fake” and a possible threat to his health. He decided to concentrate more fully on his painting career and committed himself to the journey.

When asked about the highlights of his career so far, Garling says he’s been lucky enough to have had some “big” commissions while living in Paynesville thanks in part to his love of Plein-air (outdoor) painting.

“I used to often paint outdoors and people walking by would come over to see what I was doing and many times this actually generated commissions for me.

“One in particular was a man who owned three yachts and he invited me around to his house and we became good friends and he absolutely loved the paintings I did for him.”

Garling says one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a marine artist is knowing that the people who pay for paintings genuinely love them; it’s a niche market and they attract a certain audience.

He credits plein-air painting and accurate drawing for his success as a painter, and believes that painting from life has taught him invaluable lessons.

“If I had to choose one thing that has helped my art the most it would be painting outdoors,” he says. “The lessons can’t be taught formally – nature has it all for an artist, line, texture, tone, colour and atmosphere and on top of that, plenty of practice or “brush mileage”.

“I’ve painted and drawn from nature at every opportunity and will continue to do so.”

For his larger works, Garling renders the scene outdoors on canvas and then completes the painting in his studio for practicality, but it’s the bones of the plein-air draft that will ensure an accurate final image.

According to the artist, marine art can be fraught, given its many technical hazards.

“The boats must be rendered accurately, especially if it’s a specific boat and placed ‘in’ the water not on top of it,” he says. “The sails, sky and water must also correlate with the wind direction and a feeling of movement must be given to a boat in motion.”

Garling believes water is one of the hardest subjects to paint well.

“It’s constantly moving and is often a confusing jumble of colours and shapes that requires accurate observational skills.”

His greatest inspirations are American marine artists Christopher Blossom and Donald Demers.

“These two men are probably the best marine artists in the world,” he says. “They’ve both been a huge influence on me, their work definitely appeals to people who love boats.”

His work has featured in numerous issues of magazines like Australian Artist and Artist’s Back to Basics. Highly respected as a painter, the articles have featured profiles on his work and discussed his techniques to inspire other artists.

He’s is also a member of the Sydney based Australian Society of Marine Artists, which regularly hosts exhibitions and has included Garling’s works.