By Megan Murray
For us, embracing the mood of summer is about connecting to nature; the sun on your skin, the fresh scent of citrus fruits, the taste of sea salt on your tongue. Nina Brooke, an artist and surfer based in north Cornwall, experiences these small joys every day.
As a painter, she's most inspired by her local landscape and captures aerial scenes on canvas, exploring the way people create patterns and pops of colour in the sand and sea.
Brooke's pieces are full of life and have the power to transport you to the sun-drenched locations where she's painted and surfed, with works depicting Cornwall's Kynance Cove, alongside the shores of Costa Rica.
She takes us through her typical day by the coast and shares how she uses the Cowshed Summer Refreshing range, which is scented with Sweet Orange, Spearmint and Magnolia. From that first dip in the sea to an evening spent watching the sunset over Mother Ivy's Bay, it's time to live vicariously.
Brooke is happiest when she's close to the sea, so it's fitting that each morning starts with a swim. 'I'll cycle 15 minutes to my local beach early, so that I have the place to myself. Getting into the water is just heaven,' she says. 'I love the way the sea smells in summer; it's so refreshing. And having that time alone helps me feel present all day.' Then it's time for a shower, followed by breakfast.
Exploring new coastlines
As an aerial seascape artist, discovering different landscapes is an essential part of Brooke's process. 'I work on the basis that my creative input is as important as my output,' she says. 'If I don't have the time to be inspired, I know my work will suffer. So, I love to find new coastlines to take photographs and be adventurous. For me, it's about being inquisitive. I find these moments are so vital, because they recharge my batteries.'
Setting a creative mood
When 'artist's block' occurs, Brooke uses scent to help her relax. Mornings in her studio are characterised by energising citrus oils, which she burns in her Cowshed diffuser, while late-night painting sessions are often accompanied by wood-scented candles. 'I think smell is really important, because it feels like you're looking after yourself. I'm always so messy when I'm working, with paint all over my hands and hair, so a lovely fragrance makes a difference.'
Riding the waves
'If the surf is good, I'll go back to the beach in the afternoon. This is a time when I think about nothing else but the waves,' says Brooke. Her days are often punctuated with moments of mindfulness that allow her to be present when painting. Surfing is one of these moments, but it also serves as inspiration for the theme in her work of how people react in coastal environments.
'I'm working on a solo show at the New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives this August, which will capture human behaviour at the seaside,' she says. 'There are so many emotions for us when we get in the water: joy, love, fear. It's exhilarating and fascinating to think about which emotion is most dominant. Then, when you look at all this from above, it highlights the patterns, shapes, and colours. It gives a greater perspective on the way we all are in nature.'
Cornwall's food scene is thriving, and Brooke likes to enjoy her evening meals outside where she can watch the sunset. 'I'm lucky enough to live near London chef, Tim Spedding, who has created a takeaway-only restaurant with his wife, which is incredible. I'll often have a quick refresh at home, then get some food to go, heading to Trevose Head at Mother Ivy's Bay where the evening light is beautiful.'
Soaking off the sea salt
Mixing sun, sea and sand sounds idyllic, but its effects on the skin is something that Brooke is conscious of. 'I spend a long time, both morning and evening, caring for my skin,' she says. 'After four hours in the sun, mine needs moisture, so I'm always covering myself in lotions and potions. I use Cowshed's after-sun, it's so hydrating.' For ultimate relaxation, she starts her evening with a bath to soak off the day, before indulging in her skincare regime, a good book, and a glass of red wine.
Follow Nina Brooke at @ninabrooke or view more of her work on her website here.