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‘Boatyard Breeze’

Oil painting by William Duffy

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Gallery owner J. Russell Jinishian recalls seeing his first William Duffy work. “Just a small, quiet, unassuming painting of lobster traps piled next to an old shack.” But at second glance, “there was a light and atmosphere that kept drawing us back again and again.”

“Boatyard Breeze” is one of Duffy’s almost mystical, wonderfully ethereal paintings of familiar, down-to-earth subjects: catboats, marshes, mud flats, coves, ponds and beaches from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to Ireland and the Azores. A master of technical skills, the 65-year-old Boston-born artist bends them to his own unique vision to get at the essence of his subject and the “magic of a certain moment,” as one admirer put it.

“I attempt to capture the feeling of that time, that place, that atmosphere and light,” says Duffy. “A painting must have mood and subtle power. I try to stir the soul.”

Born in 1948, the son of an amateur painter, Duffy studied art at the school of the Worcester Art Museum of Clark University and the Boston Architectural Center. He began working as a greeting card illustrator in 1974, developing his marine art in his spare time. In 1993, one of his works was accepted by the prestigious Mystic Seaport International Exhibition, where he received the Award of Excellence. It was the start of his full-time career as a marine artist. “It was the first time I realized that I truly could make a living at doing what I so love,” he recalls.

Many of his works begin with a quick plein air study in ordinary places — standing on a beach, overlooking a secluded cove, walking through a boatyard — that seem to hold secrets for him. “Painting is a means to explore composition and express deep-seated spiritual sentiments,” he says. “I seek out places that are conducive to these ends.”

To view this and other works by William Duffy visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Conn.

January 2014 issue