Paint chemistry to painting coastlines

March 25, 2023 BY

Adam Stanley working from his Torquay home. Photo: SUPPLIED

FOR more than 30 years Torquay-based artist Adam Stanley has spent his free moments painting, and now says the medium is his specialty.

Early in his career, Stanley worked as a paint chemist in a Geelong research paint facility that manufactured paint ingredients.

“I learnt a lot about paint from there. Having more of an intimate knowledge of paint, that helped with my confidence,” Stanley said.

“I was always painting, almost every day. I still liked to pick up the paintbrush, even if I was working full time.”

Fifteen years ago, Stanley moved into full time work as an artist, but Stanley calls himself a painter, not an artist.

His love of his Surf Coast home shines through in his work which features coastlines and water, with him painting on every surface he can find, from abalone shells and surfboards to walls and corrugated iron.

“This is a beautiful coastline, especially down the Great Ocean Road,” Stanley said.

“You’ve just got to drive down there for 20 minutes or an hour or two and you come to really nice point breaks, and forests and where the rocks meet the water and the landscapes.

“There’s not much that’s better than it.”

He describes his working process as free flowing, often beginning in the morning with a surf or time in nature.

“You’ve kind of got to be creative in the water.

“I think just being in nature kind of clears your mind from whatever thoughts you’ve got in your head… it’s just easier to think of good ideas.

“Or having a snorkel on and looking underwater, I do a lot of underwater paintings so that gives a good view underwater.”

Stanley’s style is textured, free flowing, and calming.

“I do experiment a bit with resin works, which works really well in abalones, with that mother of pearl.

“I use acrylics and resins and sometimes I mix the two, depending on the colours I want out of it and if you want to see the wood or base.”

This old surf board became Stanley’s canvas for painting the Surf Coast. Photo: SUPPLIED


Stanley said both his love of painting and his love of the coast began at a young age.

“I went in this Australia wide drawing competition, before that I never had paints.

“I was about 11 or 12. I came second in the under 18s and I got about 500 bucks of art paint. So I just never really ran out.

“And when I picked up paint, I just loved paint so much that it just took off from there, painting seascapes.

“That just kept me going, if I was doing homework I would substitute painting for homework, or if I got bored with anything, I would always want to pull out the paints.

“Some people want to pull out a book, and like reading, but I didn’t really like that as much as painting, so I always had the paintbrushes out and I just kept painting.

“That’s what got me into it.”

At the same time, Stanley would spend his weekends and holidays visiting his grandmother in Anglesea, the late Eula Stanley, who painted elaborate landscapes on bark and other surfaces, a technique Stanley said inspired him.

“Seeing her do that inspired me most to pick up a pencil and draw and eventually paint.

Adam Stanley often paints abalone shells painted using acrylic and resin. Photo: SUPPLIED

Stanley said he is still passionate about combining surfing and painting in his art.

“I’ve always surfed. Dad used to make Malibus, so when me and my brothers were about six we all started surfing in Anglesea.

“At Point Roadknight, we were always getting new second hand boards and I never stopped wanting to surf.

“There would be a broken board that no one was using, and I would just start [painting] on surf boards.

“Some galleries would never take surfboards. They just look a but rough and wild. But that’s what a lot of customers want on their walls, because it suits having a seascape scene on there.”

About 15 years ago, Stanley began trailing different surfaces, painting waves on shells and corrugated iron sheets.

“I paint waves on the corrugated surface, they kind of go with the corrugated waves, kind of like waves were meant to be painted on it.”

Waves painted on corrugated iron. Photo: SUPPLIED


But Stanley said it was a wall, not a surfboard, shell or corrugated iron that he thinks back on as his most proud moment.

“I painted a big mural over in Peru.

“I was staying at hostel with a bunch of friends. The owner was unreal to us, he took us to secret surf spots and showed us all around. I’d met him the year before and he was just really good to us.

“So, when he asked me ‘do you think you could do a mural’, I said ‘well if you can find me some paints’,

“I had my brushes with me, so I just did this massive wall, four meters by three-or-four meters across in his hostel, and he just couldn’t believe how good it was.

“I didn’t get money for it, I didn’t ask for any, but he was just so happy. Stanley said that his ultimately his mission.

“Making people happy – to give to people this gift I have.”

The mural Stanley painted for his host in Peru. Photo: SUPPLIED


“My favourite part of the process is giving the painting to the customer and seeing how much they like it, knowing that they are going to enjoy it forever.

“It’s very rewarding.”

With his parents in Anglesea and two of his siblings also on the Surf Coast, Stanley said he is settled here for good and hopes the next five years bring good waves and more inspiration for art.

To view more of his works follow him on Instagram @adamstanleyart or head to www.adamstanleyart.com .