Under the Zee - The Story of an Ocean Artist

“One of the big joys of creating art is getting the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world, who share a love for the Ocean” Zee

Meet Zee - an artist and ocean wanderer, who could well be the incarnation of a real-life mermaid. Travelling around the world seeking water and waves, she has immersed her heart and soul into the ocean, and this is the primary inspiration for her resin-based artwork. We are super excited to share the story of this beautiful Ocean Wanderer:

“My name is Zee and I am a self-taught artist. I make ocean-inspired resin paintings, rideable art and murals. Five years ago, I left my familiar life in the Netherlands behind. I moved to Australia to reconnect with my creative side and see more of the world. From there I travelled to Lombok, Indonesia, to make one of my dreams come true - learning to surf. On this island everything aligned - so in 2015 I packed my life up once again. A tiny fishing village became my home, surfing a new passion, I met the love of my life, made new friends and found a job.

I lived ‘the simple life’ in a little cabin on the hill surrounded by lush jungle, overlooking the bay where I surfed almost every day. It wasn’t all picture perfect; the pothole-filled ‘road’ in the village turned into a mud bath during monsoon season, it often rained in my bed, only had cold salty showers, I had cockroaches, snakes, rats and monkeys as unwanted pets, dealt with long power cuts, and the first year and a half there was no internet, to name a few examples… It was raw, real, sometimes rough, but exciting. Plus one hundred and minus one hundred. I felt alive.

I was working for Lombok’s first shaper at Banyu Surfboards for one and a half years creating custom board designs. I had become obsessed with resin through learning surfboard glassing. I was seeing textures in everything around me: the ocean, rocks, coral reef, the beach, breaking waves and tropical flora. My partner Anthony had just started pursuing a new passion himself - (under)water photography, which massively inspired me as well. I felt a strong urge to try and recreate all these textures I was seeing. I remember a night where I lay awake. I was daydreaming about making resin art for the thousandth time and worried about how much money I’d have to spend on materials. But that night I just decided to do it. I didn’t sleep at all, I was too excited. For some reason there was this raging adrenaline in my gut that told me to go for it, regardless of the outcome. I spent my entire saving to invest in materials. I was only on local Indo wages, but still - everything is relative. Half of the materials then got ruined due to the climate and problems with Indonesian Customs. I was broke and had to borrow money to pay for my health insurance at 26 years old… (thanks mum!)

At the time I was the only person on the island trying this type of art; there was nobody to ask for advice, no art stores, not even a factory that sold the wood I needed. The closest city was a three hour drive away and had very limited options. Everyday I had confused locals laugh at me when I tried to explain my ideas. So in the end I had to import everything from overseas, and it took nine months because the unpaved ‘road’ I lived on didn’t have a street name. I accidentally covered my bedroom floor in resin and almost set my house on fire. I drove around for five hours once to find wood so I could build by own panels. And I wasted hundreds of pounds experimenting with this medium to find the techniques and textures that I wanted to achieve.

I was working three jobs and still found time to surf and create… I just could not stop. If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it. I feel that those challenges were placed on my path to find out how much I really wanted this.

Resin art taught me to let go of control and perfectionism, because usually the unplanned sections turn out to be my favourite. Resin is a crystal clear and free-flowing liquid, creating depth in solid form. Layering textures and colours and observing the chemical reactions that occur during the process, make the time and my surroundings disappear. Creating art is almost like having a good surf session - it immerses me in the moment.

My work is inspired by nature’s ever-changing textures and colours. Looking at them from different angles, you can keep discovering new details. So, I invite you to come closer…”

Zee x

Immerse yourself into this beautiful fluid world at the links below:

www.underthezee.com

Instagram: @underthezee

Deepa Shah