Steve Rogers

About the Artist

I have never ceased to be fascinated by ships and the sea. In fact, marshlands and boatyards will do just as well. I am amazed by the craftsmanship, design, and beauty in the building of a ship or for that matter, a simple skiff. I love the stark beauty of the wetlands, the sheer power of the ocean, and the inherent structures in the docks and warehouses of a working waterfront. So much of what we see today of our marine heritage is slowly fading away under the irresistible and relentless pressure of development. My work is simply a small effort to preserve some memories of what used to be for those who remember fondly, and those who are unaware of what life was like only a few short decades ago. Some people have said there is a sadness to my work. To some extent there may be, but it is more a recognition, admiration and respect for the lives and work of those who work on the water . My home is in Lewes, Delaware. It is a small resort town where the Delaware river meets the Atlantic ocean. Although tourist oriented now, in the recent past it was a major fishing port for the menhaden fleet. It is the oldest town in Delaware, not settled by the English, but by the Dutch. It is a true small town; everybody knows everybody. My studio is in a house built in 1820 and moved twice before ending up in town. We were shelled by a British fleet during the War of 1812 but all they managed to do was kill a chicken. We have the cannonball. The area is surrounded by estuaries and coastal marshes, and bordered on the east by the extensive Cape Henlopen State Park . To the north are the Prime Hook and Bombay Hook wildlife refuges. There is natural beauty in almost every direction. It is an inspiring place to live and work. I grew up in Chester County , Pa. on a small farm. It is Wyeth country. My interest in any form of art was always encouraged. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw or paint. I consider myself essentially self-taught but not without the advice and help from various art teachers, mentors and artist friends. When I was eighteen, it was time for the big decision whether to go to art school or to regular college. My parents had lived through the Depression and World War Two. Their understandable view was that the art thing was fine but I needed to be able to get a real job, and college was the only way. I was accepted at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa and graduated in 1967. There were only a few art courses, I took all of them. They were instrumental in helping my cumulative grade average. My degree is in Anthropology, something I have never lost interest in. After the service, I worked in store design and advertising production. In 1989 I returned to my art and have supported myself that way ever since. I have a side interest in building ship models, have published 5 books about building models and on a fairly regular basis teach a scratch model building course at the Woodenboat School in Brooklin, Maine. I don’t approach each painting the same way. Sometimes a piece is a pure work of imagination. It could be based on something I saw one place added to something from another. Other times, it’s based on fieldwork. I take a lot of photographs. I actually have files on specific boats that cover several years and locations. When I find an appealing subject, I will photograph it from every angle possible. This is the first step in developing the composition. At a later point, I crop and refine the images and tape several of them them up over the easel. It is almost always necessary to move elements around to make a more effective composition. Occasionally, I will use some of my ship models to help me visualize how a boat will look from different perspectives. Light pencil sketches define the final composition, but not without the occasional erasure and redraw. After fixing, a light wash of under-color begins the painting. I honestly find the process of arriving at the composition more challenging than the painting part. Although I work in acrylics, I use oil techniques. I like to see paint strokes and texture and I love the look of canvas. From this point on, the painting takes on a life of its own and even though I think I know where its going, I can be surprised. Sometimes, I just have to stop. I get up, go outside and watch the ospreys across the street, the blue heron in the marsh, and the seagulls wheeling and diving above the canal. After a few minutes, I go back to work.

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