Untitled big wave 36 by 48 inch acrylic on canvas 2012
I love nature, especially the ocean, and have been fascinated by beaches, waves, and the ocean’s energy as far back as I can remember. I grew up on the California coast, spent most of my childhood on the beach, and began drawing beaches and waves (and imagined tsunamis and other disasters) while still in grade school. I studied art at Cal State University at Long Beach, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and received my Bachelors Degree in Art at Western Oregon University in 1980. In 1987 my wife Vicki and I moved to Wisconsin from Oregon to raise our three daughters and be near family.
It was the sudden irony of being away from the ocean that compelled me to spend a lot more time painting it. I have found that I can “be there” by painting imagined beaches not so much from California but from other further-away places I’d like to be.
In 1990 I began creating and exhibiting my work full-time beginning with art festivals and expanding into gallery shows and commissioned work. I work with watercolor, acrylic and graphite on paper and with acrylic on canvas. I usually work out the composition in a sketchbook first, then draw it out full-size on the sheet or canvas before painting. I enjoy working in various mediums and in sizes from intimate 8” by 10” pencil drawings to 8-foot-long acrylic paintings.
WVA membership status:


The Illusion of Stable Ground

Oregon Surf, 11 by 15 in. watercolor


Shorebreak in Extremis


Mothes works in group show
ocean-surf drawings

Lee Mothes, New Island, Extraordinary
A place that has a magical way of fading into and out of existence
by Gary John Gresl

Lee Mothes

Lee Mothes

New Island Project