When she’s not painting her land and seascapes, artist Amy Jobes is in or by the water, finding inspiration in the natural world, writes Catherine Courtenay 

There’s a dramatic energy, a strength and freedom to Amy Jobes’ paintings, which is seemingly at odds with the artist when you meet her. 

Amy appears calm, level headed and practical, chatting over the kitchen table, she’s clearly very organised and professional. She readily admits that she enjoys ‘the business side’ of her profession.  

But as we talk it becomes clear that there’s much going on beneath the surface. Amy is a thinker, she reads, she absorbs others’ ideas and theories, and then she goes outdoors, into the landscapes she paints. These natural settings are where she will ‘cleanse her brain and clear all thoughts’.  

Great British Life: Stop the Clocks oil painting from the Croyde Classic seriesStop the Clocks oil painting from the Croyde Classic series (Image: Amy Jobes)

Her absorption in the natural world, something that has been building up all her life, is what gives her work its power. Stretching right back to childhood holidays, Amy has been obsessed with the atmosphere of how it feels being in the wilds, and nowhere more so than the coastal areas of North Devon. 

It’s a connection made greater by finding solace in this landscape and recognising how it can help during difficult times. 

There is a series of small oil paintings on the table, her Ocean Prana works are an immediate response to a moment of being in the sea; they are painted quickly on her return home, on board using large brushes and a palette knife.  

It’s a reaction to being in her ‘thin space’ she says, ‘where the veils are thin’, where she feels an intense, almost spiritual connection to something other. 

Great British Life: Saunton Aurora, oil painting by Amy JobesSaunton Aurora, oil painting by Amy Jobes (Image: Amy Jobes)

Amy confesses that at times she has been moved to tears when in the presence of the ocean. One time at Saunton, she was enveloped in, ‘a sea of diamonds’. The calm, flat sea was shimmering and sparking with light. ‘It blew me away,’ she says. 

Amy lives with her family, school teacher husband Edward and childen Isaac and Rose, in their home at Chivenor on the outskirts of Braunton. She works from her studio, a large shed in a corner of the garden. 

Originally from Hampshire, it was always a dream to live in North Devon. She spent many holidays here. With her teenage friends she’d, 'swim at night at Putsborough’, she recalls. 'The beauty of the sunsets... this place was magic, my spiritual home. It was my first feeling of independence, of freedom and nature and it was so breathtakingly beautiful.’ 

Drawing and painting from childhood, by the age of 15 she was creating pet portrait commissions. But a lack of confidence when it came to selling her work meant she put any thoughts of being a professional artist aside. Instead, she focused on her other passion, biology and geography, which she studied at Exeter University. But the drawing still continued, this time it was ‘plant cells and annotated diagrams’.  

Ultimately Amy found herself working for the Environment Agency in Bristol as a climate change advisor. 

Nine years ago she and Edward moved to North Devon. Amy’s work had taken its toll. 'I felt the world was on my shoulders. I felt really helpless,’ she says. It seemed such an overwhelming task to try and stop the damage being done to the environment. 

Great British Life: Infinite Harmony by Amy JobesInfinite Harmony by Amy Jobes (Image: Amy Jobes)

The move was financially tough for the family. Although Edward continued to teach, Amy had set herself the challenge of becoming a professional artist – alongside bringing up Isaac and Rose.  

It was also difficult emotionally. There was 'an element of suffering’ with her mothering, says Amy, who had post natal depression, but, ‘suffering gets you to look at life differently’. 

She found strength from reading books, and finding inspiration from writers with alternative takes on life. She developed a self-coping mechanism, living in the present. ‘You are not your thoughts; it’s letting go and having an acceptance of what is.’ 

And her beloved North Devon landscapes and the natural world helped both her mental wellbeing and her work. 

‘I had been visualising the doom and gloom, but we do still live in an amazingly beautiful world.’ 

‘I’m fortunate,’ she adds. ‘I have a lot more time to think and reflect than most people.’ 

Great British Life: Amy took part in the Devon Open Studios event in SeptemberAmy took part in the Devon Open Studios event in September (Image: Jim Wileman/Devon Open Studios)

Now, when she paints, she will go into a different zone, ‘an active meditation’ is how she desribes it. ‘When I’m in this zone it really feels like it’s not me doing it; I feel I’m channelling something. Then I think, “Where did that come from?” My best work comes from when I don’t control it.’ 

‘For me it makes life magical.’ 


Amy’s work can be viewed at Echo Beach Gallery in Ilfracombe. She is currently artist-in-residence at Saunton Sands Hotel until early March – check her website for details.