The Helicina

The Helicina

Back in August I posted the colour test for this piece on Instagram (if you wanna see it go take a look:

So for some context: The Helicina was Shell’s fastest tanker, built just after World War Two and made to carry thousands of tonnes of refined aviation fuel at speeds twice what was ever previously reached.

The Helicina holds special meaning to me as it was the ship my Grandpa, Ernest Hall, served on when he was a young man. He has recently moved into a care home in Newcastle and while I was up there over the summer he told us all about his time on board; specifically one particular beach on the coast of Trincomalee he had visited. He asked me to paint him something (after I showed him my final project piece for college: The Pheonix) and I decided that a peaceful, tropical scene with the celebrated Helicina on the horizon was the perfect piece to make.


I worked on this for a few weeks, making the colour tests (as you can see above) and sketching out the ship, the composition and finally painting the piece itself. I used pictures of the Helicina and reference pictures from Google to make the beach accurate (I, sadly, have never been to Trincomalee) and worked in acrylic paints and brushes.


The Finished Helicina-Trincomalee piece

Finally finished last week, I carefully wrapped the the painting and my family traveled up to Newcastle to visit my Grandpa.

He was delighted with the piece, immediately recognising the tanker; we could hardly get him to speak of much else for the rest of the visit.


I’m so happy with this piece, with the colours and the way the composition draws the eye into the detailed ship. I am a little disappointed with the level of detail in the rocks and bushes to the left of the piece but I do think it draws the audience’s attention to the important aspects of the painting.

I hope you like it as much as he did!