“The Fog Warning,” by Winslow Homer, 1885, oil, 30 1/4 x 48 1/2 in. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
“The Fog Warning,” by Winslow Homer, 1885, oil, 30 1/4 x 48 1/2 in. Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Don Demers didn’t just gravitate to a particular Homer painting because of its painting style. The subject matter was transformative as well.

“That painting had a tremendous impact,” says Demers. “I loved it. It’s a man with a boat with a fish, a monumental story that captivated me. It’s what it’s like to live on the coast and go out onto the sea to ply your living. The visual construction is all built to support the human elements — the strength and the stoic individuality of the fisherman. When I was a boy I could look at ‘The Fog Warning’ and smell the salt air, feel the cold wind. I immediately built a narrative around it. And I really wanted to paint pictures like that.”

Demers is pulled so strongly to the sea, he thinks he may have been intimately involved with it in a previous life. Certainly he was done for at age 5, the first time he smelled salt air, when his family visited Ogunquit, Maine. “I am fortunate that my sensory awareness and visual awareness were really high as a kid,” says the artist. “I was lucky — that’s just what I was made of. The sour smell of apples rotting on the ground was fall, the chest with mothballs and woolen mittens was winter. And these images established my value system, shaped my thinking. It was a profound joy to me to be able to illustrate so much of what has been in my life. It’s about the subject. The painting is just the delivery system. These images, and ‘The Fog Warning,’ tell far more of a story than just a pretty picture.”

***

No one paints boats, harbors, and the sea like master marine painter Don Demers. In the art video workshop “Mastering a Nautical Scene,” we take you to a working lobster dock in Maine to watch him paint a landscape featuring water, boats, trees, and a mountain background. You’ll learn Don’s step-by-step technique for painting marine subjects, and how he captures the genuine feel of the scene.


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