Don Demers was born in 1956, in the small, rural community of Lunenburg, Massachusetts. His interest in painting maritime subjects began while spending his summers on the coast of Maine near Boothbay Harbor.
After finishing an exemplary high school art program, he furthered his education at the School of the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, and the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.
His maritime experience came about as a crew member aboard many traditional sailing vessels including schooners and square-riggers. He continues to be an avid sailor.
“Painting is not an art. It’s a craft,” says Demers. “If you develop your skills sufficiently, develop a fluency with your materials and your subject matter, and most importantly develop your personal voice and point of view, you’ll be on the path to making art.”
His professional career began as an illustrator and expanded into the field of fine art. His illustrations can be found on many book covers and in national publications such as Reader’s Digest, Sail Magazine, Field & Stream, Sports Afield, Yankee, and National Geographic.
Demers has been chosen as the judge of awards for the 2019 En Plein Air Texas art competition in October. He shares his advice for artists entering their work in a competition:
“When entering an event that has a competitive nature to it, it’s important to know that your most important competitor is yourself,” he says. “It’s easy to be distracted by the work of others as you’re creating in close proximity to them. Stay centered, focus, and dig deep into your personal motives and vision. If you succeed in that, the rest will take care of itself.”
Demers’s paintings have been featured in a number of publications including American Artist, Artist, Plein Air, Fine Art Connoisseur, Art and Antiques, Yachting, Nautical Quarterly, Nautical World, Offshore, and Maine Boats and Harbors. His work has also been featured and discussed in a number of texts including Concordia Yawls: The First Fifty Years, by Elizabeth Meyer; Marine Painting and Yachts on Canvas, both authored by James Taylor, of Greenwich, England; Yacht Portraits published by Sheridan House; A Gallery of Marine Art, Rockport Publishers, an instructional textbook titled Marine Painting: Techniques of Modern Masters published by Watson Guptill; and Bound for Blue Water written by J. Russell Jinishian and published by Greenwich Workshop.
His diversity has enabled him to apply his skills to clients ranging from American Airlines to the National Park Service. Various projects have included creating art for national television advertisements, educational television programming, and designing art glass for Steuben.
Demers’s body of work has expanded to the study and creation of landscape painting. These works are created from subjects across the country and beyond, often in consort with other artists of similar inspiration. His landscape work has garnered him two awards at the Laguna Plein Air Invitational in Laguna Beach, CA, in 2001 and 2002. He has also received an award for his painting at the 2007 Crystal Cove Invitational sponsored by the Irvine Museum in Orange County, CA.
Demers is a Fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, an elected member of the Guild of Boston Artists, an elected member of the California Art Club, and a signature member of PAPA (Plein Air Painters of America). He has won a record seventeen awards at the Mystic International Marine Art Exhibition, Mystic, CT, including the Rudolph J. Schaefer Maritime Heritage Award in 2006. Demers’s illustrations have been recognized by the Museum of American Illustration four times in their national competition representing the finest examples of work in the field. Recognized for his communication skills, Don conducts workshops for artists as well as producing instructional DVDs. He also lectures on his landscape and marine art. His audiences include museums, art associations, yacht clubs, historical societies, and educational institutions.
No one paints boats, harbors, and the sea like master marine painter Don Demers. Watch as he takes you to a working lobster dock in Maine to see him paint a landscape featuring water, boats, trees, and a mountain background in the art workshop video “Mastering a Nautical Scene.” You’ll learn Don’s step-by-step technique for painting marine subjects, and how he captures the genuine feel of the scene. Preview it below: