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Sam Flylightly: Contrasting Seascapes

Sam Flylightly

Published: 5th November 2017


So, who’s this then?

This is Sam Hinton, a Horsham artist who signs work using the alias Sam Flylightly.


The name comes from a story that Sam once read about sailors who found a baby at sea. They needed a name and chose Flylightly. Sam said: “I didn’t feel a particularly strong attachment to my surname and wanted something different. Six years on, I think it's a bit cheesy, but the name has stuck.”

 I’m sensing there may be a whimsical element to Sam’s art…

Interestingly, there are two distinctly different sides to her creative output. Sam likes to alternate between small, detailed watercolour studies and huge, swirling abstracts on canvas that – were it not for a similarity in theme – might appear to be the work of different artists.

How’s that happened?

Sam finds that an alternative style ensures her work doesn’t stagnate. Having drawn detailed ink pictures for a long time, Sam took equal pleasure in the bold strokes of her canvas paintings. She said: “I hit a point when I am very frustrated with a certain style and it's nice to be able to focus on something different.” As well as helping maintain focus, Sam found the more expressive abstract style helped her to control a condition that she struggled with.

What condition?

Sam suffered with Essential Tremor, a nerve disorder that can cause uncontrollable shaking. Sam said: “It came to be a real irritant. I found that the more I focused and tried to control it, the worse the shaking became. It drove me nuts!” Having sought medical advice, Sam disagreed with a professional’s suggestion that she should consider a different hobby. Instead, she bought a huge canvas and acrylic paints on her way home! Fortunately, Sam is now able to control the shaking.

So, what themes inspire Sam’s work?

Several pieces in her ‘Imaginarium’ series take inspiration from the fantasy books that Sam read as a child. She said: “When I was young, I always had a book with me. I would get frustrated if the pictures didn't match what I was imagining. Sometimes, I’d even draw my own illustrations and stick them in the book!” However, even more evident is Sam’s love of the sea.

Are we talking run-of-the-mill seascapes?

Not at all. In her recent range of abstract acyclic paintings on canvas, there’s an adventurous imagery. Hints of jellyfish and octopus are prominent in paintings including Wave 1. Some smaller pieces are more representational but follow similar themes. Nereid, named after the sea nymphs of Greek mythology, casts a feminine figure as part of a coral reef. Halcyon is an intriguing piece that showcases two regular features of Sam’s work: the sea and the female form. 

Is that a woman being dragged under by an octopus?

Sam’s abstract paintings entice different opinions on the imagery. She said: “People might look at the work and find certain things, but I see them as very personal pieces of art. I hide symbols and use imagery that might mean different things to different people, but there is a definite meaning to me. My work is autobiographical in a sense as it does chart my own journey.” 

 Presumably, this journey involves a boat! Where does this love of the sea stem from?

Visit to see her dad in the Florida Keys certainly helped cement a passion for water and sea creatures. “We would go out on the boat into the middle of the ocean,” recalls Sam. “We would jump in to the sea and it was terrifying, as it's like an alien world under the surface. The first time I saw a coral reef, I found it so strange and fascinating. I was also lucky to stay on a private island where unusual animals would wash up on the shore and I would sketch them. They were quick abstract drawings but those sketches still inspire my work now.”

Did Sam study to be an artist?

Having always loved drawing, she did initially follow that path. As a child, Sam would get hold of her mum’s continuous reams of typewriter paper, draw all over it and then fold it neatly back up! Fortunately, Sam’s abilities progressed and she landed a place on an Art Foundation course. However, when it came to seeking a University destination, Sam found herself intrigued by the section next to Art in the prospectus: Anthropology.

Don’t tell me. It’s not actually anything to do with ants, is it?

Not quite. It’s more the study of human cultures and societies. The broadness of the course appealed to Sam’s inquisitive nature and has inspired her ever since. Sam said: “It was a real eye-opener as you are constantly asking questions to which there are no answers.”

That’s how the teachers at my old school felt. So, how did Sam get back into art?

She never really stopped. Having left university in 2011, Sam has been working whilst continuing to paint in her spare time. Most recently, she’s been a content writer and editor for various websites, primarily on matters relating to finance. Recently, she has shown renewed focus to make her name as an artist. “I feel I've been influenced by many people to follow a certain path,” she said. “Eventually, I decided to follow my own path. I am proud of being an artistic person and whilst it might not make me a fortune, I wanted to be an artist.”

Has Sam had the opportunity to exhibit?

She has indeed. Having become a member of the Association of Sussex Artists in 2016, her painting Halcyon was awarded third place in the public vote of this year’s exhibition in Horsham. It is hoped she will continue to evolve and develop as an artist in the years ahead.

More information on Sam’s work can be found on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages @SamFlylightly