Shane Michael Couch
Shane was born in Lancashire near Liverpool England in 1963. His father and grandfather both served in the Navy so as a youth he was filled with stories of the great ships that where built and sailed from the near by river Mersey, from the transatlantic packets and clippers to the great Cunard and White Star liners. He would spend many hours with his father exploring the various ships in the Mersey and studying the huge model collection in the then Liverpool museum or marveling at the great paintings depicting the crowed port many by Samuel Walters.
After high school, Shane pursued a career as an aeronautical engineer where he worked for 14 years. In 1996 he moved to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the world famous center of yachting, where he met his wife, Kathryn. Living and working on the Isle of Wight surrounded by water he was inspired by the great yacht races of the past, be it off the Needles, Ryde Pier or in Cowes roads. He researched extensively the history of yachting in both England and America, collecting original race reports for the whole period of 1844 to 1914 and many original lines plans of the great schooners and sloops of the period. he was particularly interested in the history of the great international schooner races of the 1870s and the rivalry between the American Cutters and Sloops of the 1880s. He found periods like the 1930s far too over represented in art.
Shane is entirely self-taught never having a formal art lesson. His ‘real teachers”, are some of the great art teachers of the past such as Samuel Walters James Buttersworth Antonio Jacobsen and the late John Chancellor. When painting, he takes great effort to be concourse of the Engineers need for structural integrity of a vessel. The Historians desire for historical accuracy and the sailors innate feel for the sea its power and motion.
A chance passage in old yachting periodical or volume describing and incident in a race long sensed lost will often light the flames of imagination and set the creative process in motion. This leads me to search through my reference library for details of the vessels involved. In particularly there lines and sail plans and details of other races in which they have participated. This information helps me understand the various qualities of the yachts, slowly like an archaeologist I piece together the various fragments and build up a picture what I hope is an accurate moment in time.
“When painting on a large scale I like to include a group of vessels that make up a special period of yachting history. Once a composition is fixed upon using my knowledge of engineering drawing from the original lines plan I reconstruct the vessel frame by frame at the exact angle of heel and view point I require. When I begin to draw out her lines from bow to stern I create a three dimensional image on paper and in my mind. It’s during this process that one marvels at the beauty and elegance of the lines incorporated in the designs of such men as G L Watson William Fife and Nat Herreshoff. I feel a great responsibility to get the model of there vessels correct to do justice to these great men to produce a rendition they would be proud of.”