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Painting The Southern Ocean


The Southern Ocean, the ocean that surrounds Antarctica, is currently being captured and painted by Danielle Eubank.

Eubank's paintings of the world's oceans are sensuous. Undulating forms that evoke memory and emotion are classic Eubank. She uses simple organic forms, lines, striking colors and smooth, dry textures to create paintings with real meaning. 

Painting the Southern Ocean will culminate a 20-year project to paint all the oceans on the planet.

I began this project as a challenge to myself. Painting water terrified me. When something terrifies me, taming the fear becomes an objective.


Painting all the oceans on the planet is a lifelong goal. I may very well be the first person to have ever sailed and painted all of Earth’s oceans. Sailing to, and capturing each ocean presents one challenge, creating a body of work that is successful presents another, and finally, painting each body of water with my unique voice is a personal challenge that excites me.


My paintings of the Southern Ocean, like my paintings of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans, will be emotive formal portraits. Each painting I make is a portrait of a specific body of water. By formal, I mean using shapes, color, lines, and texture to create an abstract image. I enjoy using the formal elements, along with composition to evoke emotion in the viewer.


Each idea for each painting begins with, “What do I want this painting to communicate?” Oftentimes it is difficult to quantify in words which is exactly why I use color, composition, and form. I usually begin with composition, drawing with charcoal on linen, pushing the charcoal around until I’m happy. Then I build up layer after layer of paint, rubbing off and reapplying using brushes, rags, and my hands, until I get the desired color and texture. The last thing is ensuring that the value range is how I want it, building up darks and lightening lights.


I am inspired by the natural world. A crack in the tree bark, the color of a beetle’s wing, or a blue snow shadow creates imprints in my mind. Equally, human endeavors, particularly in the arts and sciences, motivate me. Anyone using creative drive to push the boundaries of their field should be applauded.


I’m very excited to paint The Southern Ocean and complete my pursuit of all the world’s oceans. I don’t know what I’ll find in Antarctica. I suspect it will be an abstract world unlike anything else I have seen. I can’t wait to paint it!

Danielle Eubank 2018

Danielle will be sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina, across the Drake Passage, to Hannah Point, South Shetland Islands, then on to Cuverville Island, and to the Antarctic Peninsula via the Lemaire Channel to Petermann Island including a series of visits to islands like Deception Island, Brabant Island, and as far south as Detaille Island, which takes her across the Antarctic Circle. For the return she will cross the Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Straight, arriving at Melchior Islands, crossing the Drake Passage for a second time, and returning to Ushuaia.


This will be an immense and busy time for sketching! Eubank plans to sketch all manner of water, as well as ice flows, icebergs, mountains, albatrosses, petrels, cape pigeons, Gentoo and Adélie Penguins, Elephant Seals, and hopefully Humpback and Minke Whales, Leopard and Crabeater Seals.


Credits, clockwise from top: Arctic Mountains II, oil on paper painting by Danielle Eubank; Eubank seated sketching, photo: unknown 2014; The Antigua in the Arctic, photo: Danielle Eubank 2014, photo strip below: Danielle sketching in the Arctic, 2014, photo: unknown; Arctic Seascape III, photo: Danielle Eubank; Crew on Land, photo: Danielle Eubank 2014; Eubank walking away from camera, photo: Bex A Painter 2014; Arctic Glacier III, 2014, photo: Danielle Eubank; Arctic Crew in a Zodiac, photo: Danielle Eubank 2014.

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