Huge paintings of Yorkshire's stunning coast prove popular as more people wish to be beside the sea

The charm of the coast holds a tantalising lure, when captured on canvas in vibrant detail.

Kate Smith has sold more paintings since June than she has in the last two years
Kate Smith has sold more paintings since June than she has in the last two years

Now with a walk on the beach out of reach for so long, it seems that nostalgic draw is more powerful than ever.

For Whitby artist Kate Smith, it has resulted in a flurry of sales as she opens a window on Yorkshire's seaside scenes."The sea seems to have a pull at the moment, in getting back to the coast," said Ms Smith, who has sold more paintings since June than in the whole of the previous two years.

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"People are desperate to be by the sea, they are craving it. With these huge paintings, it's like having a window to the coast, and to somewhere they have fond memories of."

Artist Kate Smith says people are missing the coast

At her home studio in central Whitby, former fine art student Ms Smith works primarily with oil. Courageous colours are splashed across canvas, tiny details defined in clashes of light.

The sweep of a fishing boat's rudder, peeling with paint, or the menacing arch of a crumbling clifftop as it towers over a blustery bay.

The boats are a common theme in Ms Smith's paintings. Her husband, raised in Runswick Bay, has always had a small boat, she said, and she is drawn to their rustic charm.

Now, people nationwide are seeking out such sights for their own homes.

"Normally people go into galleries to buy paintings," she said. "I've sold more paintings since June than in the whole of the last two years probably.

"Maybe it's because people aren't going on holidays, so they are bringing a bit of the sea to where they live and hanging it on the wall. It makes them happy every day.

"Everybody is craving this 'other life' by the coast. It's the open expanse, that fresh air. Everybody is desperate to come back, and to have a walk by the sea and fish and chips."

Ms Smith, a former secondary school art teacher, set up properly as an artist only in 2016. When the country went into lockdown last March, her diary had suddenly emptied.

Gone from her calendar were all the exhibitions and gallery events, the art festivals for which this part of Yorkshire is so famous for.

Instead, with the help of her teenage daughter and son, she set up on Instagram and Facebook. Now, a year on, she has a keen insight into what much of the country is missing.

"Everybody misses the coast," said the 50-year-old. "It's the tradition of it here, which hasn't been wiped out or modernised, or 'prettified' in that chocolate-box style.

"Places like Staithes still have that real grittiness as a working harbour," she added. "Whitby has a working harbour, and there are the boats going out and bringing fish in.

"It's on lots of people's minds. It is nice to think you can walk down to the harbour and eat fish that's been brought in that day. "That you can walk right up to the history and heritage of Whitby Abbey. People so want that freedom again."

Yorkshire's 'untouched' fishing villages hold a rustic charm, said Whitby artist Kate Smith, which appeals to people living inland who so miss the sight of the sea.

"It really is fabulous, this coastline," she said. "It's extremely pretty, with that rugged coastline and the cliffs and their dangerous beauty.

"You can capture that, at certain times of day. Early in the morning, or at sunset, you can feel that sense of the craggy landscapes here."