Adam Stanley at his Torquay studio during this year's Surf Coast Arts Trail, which he has participated in since its inception. Photo: PETER MARSHALL

From the ocean to the canvas: artist Adam Stanley shares his inspirations

October 17, 2019 BY

Adam Stanley’s evolution as an artist can be traced back to his childhood.

The self-taught Torquay painter, who has been mixing colours for four decades, began to draw at age six.

He remembers watching his grandmother experiment with bark on her property in Anglesea, a place of wonder he gravitated towards as a curious young boy.

“My grandpa would collect bark from the trees, and she would just paste these bits of bark on the canvas and make cool scenes out of it. She did beach scenes but mainly the country,” the 47-year-old said.

“She was really good at it. She’d have the whole table covered in bark. When I was about six, I started drawing and watching her. I was always really interested in art, and I never really stopped.”

That same year, when Adam’s hunger for creativity was first unearthed, his father gifted him a surfboard. It was here that he realised the source of his imagination – the ocean.

‘From Above’, resin painting on aluminium (90x60cm).

“I think from playing around in rock pools when we (Adam and his siblings) were growing up as two-year olds, we were always subjected to the water and we were just in love with the ocean,” he said.

“Anything we could do… sailing, surfing, diving or even spearfishing, it was a passion. I still like the bush and the jungle, but I think the ocean wins for me.”

Even people who are unfamiliar with his work, especially those who have wandered by his studio on Torquay’s Gilbert Street without stopping, would assume Adam’s affection for the region’s beaches.

With every wave and tide, he is inspired. For Adam, the bigger the painting, the better. He said he hoped people felt they could step into his works and be teleported to the scene he created.

“I’m interested in what’s in the ocean and what’s out of the ocean as well. I don’t want to leave too many stones unturned,” he smiled.

‘Sunrise Whale Tail Waterfall’ (122x65cm).

“I like bigger paintings because it feels like you can walk into them. I’m not detailed of an artist, I’m more into big blends with big brushes to get that big effect.”

An avid explorer, Adam often finds himself behind the wheel navigating the underappreciated beauty of Australia’s coastlines.

If he isn’t painting or chasing barrels, he’s getting up close and personal with sharks on a dive trip or establishing connections with artists and galleries in Margaret River and Byron Bay.

He said while he tries to travel as much as he can, he also looks to photographers, including Scott Bauer, Cormac Hanrahan, Kevan Way, Ed Sloane and Fiona Peters, to reinvigorate his seascape imagery.

“Photographers are the ones who get up early in the morning and take good photos of the beach. If it’s early in the morning for me, it has to be good waves,” he laughed.

The Torquay artist is best known for his ability to create texture on canvas, corrugated iron, wine barrels and other surface areas which deviate from the norm.

This year he completed a small series of climate change inspired works using Coles’ mini collectables for the Fight for the Bight campaign.

Adam’s studio is located at 2/12 Gilbert Street, Torquay. For more information on his art, visit, follow @adamstanleyart or head to

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