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surf culture

These Incredible Wave Paintings Are Sublimely Lit

These stunning wave paintings look so real you could probably surf on them.

This article originally appeared on The Creators Project.

From small ripples to surfable swells, ocean waves are rarely disappointing in their calming beauty. Although well depicted throughout art history (best exemplified by Japan's most iconic ukiyo-e woodblock painting), few artists render the true exuberance of waves as well as painter Lori Gilbert. Focusing on the powerful role of light in the formation of wave aesthetics, Gilbert's works straddle the spectrum from hyperreal beach scenes to phantasmagoric waves floating in the void.


Although she also paints portraits and landscapes outside of the beach, Gilbert has a soft spot for depicting waves, partially as a result of her own childhood nostalgia. "I grew up in Southern California, and ever since I was a girl, I would go to the beach and just stare for hours at the waves crashing. The sound itself is hypnotizing," the artist tells Creators. "I have always known that being over a body of water brings a certain peace to your mind and heart, and with my work, I dream of capturing this peacefulness."

All images courtesy of Lori Gilbert.

Indeed, there is something incredibly peaceful about Gilbert's wave paintings. Perhaps it's the way she freezes otherwise ephemeral moments, allowing the viewer to see—in stunning and sometimes surreal detail—the details and peculiarities of a crashing wave. The meticulousness of these paintings reveals Gilbert's lifelong relationship with water; the occasional beachgoer could never paint them as intricately as she does.

But it isn't just a lifelong familiarity with beaches and waves that allows Gilbert to do what she does; there is more at work behind the magic. "Most of my friends are surfers, and a few years ago I started seeing GoPro photos of waves everywhere," she explains. "Every surfer has this intimate relationship with the water; they crave being in the break and feeling peaceful. With the GoPro, it was the first time the viewer could feel like they were inside the waves and could feel the euphoria and stillness the surfer felt."


"I was mesmerized, being able to see the intricate detail by which light refracted amongst the barreling wave. I had to accomplish this feeling in my paintings and bring my own energy into them," Gilbert adds. "A reiki healer once told me that nature is meant to balance its viewers' mind and soul with its perfect harmony of color and light. My real goal and dream is to bring this healing energy to people's homes and give them that feeling of grounding and love."

You can peruse Lori Gilbert's wave and non-wave paintings here.