With a watercolor palette of blues and greens, reds and browns and brush strokes both bold and subtle, marine artist Paul Landry brings us to the docks of his native maritime Canada, where gulls glide through an indistinct sky, schooners dry their patched sails and two men work a dory on the placid waters.
“At the Dock,” a 9-by-12 watercolor, is a quiet scene from days gone by, but one familiar to the artist. Landry was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1931, the grandson of French and Scottish schooner-sailing sea captains. He grew up a wharf rat on the city waterfront, working with the fishermen hauling traps and nets. He was also witnessing, with an artist’s eye (and camera), the last days of the now-legendary Grand Banks fishing fleet.
The experience served him well. “I believe you have to know your subject to paint it well,” the artist once said. “Spending time at sea has allowed me to know its many moods.”
Always fascinated by art, Landry’s professional career began when he found work as a photo engraver at age 17. In the following years, he honed his skills at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and developed them further at the prestigious Art Students League of New York in Manhattan, New York.
The origins of his art became the inspiration for his work through the years. Using watercolors and oil-wash, his subjects were found in the everyday world. Among them were coastal villages and those who lived there: a dory in the winter, an old boat shop in the snow, a spring garden outside a sea captain’s house. “The sea and the villages that border it and the people who work it all hold a great fascination for me,” said Landry, who passed away in 2018. “Providing unending sources of inspiration, they beckon to my heart and hand.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue.