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Christmas Island

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A lobster boat approaches a small, isolated island on a foggy day in Maine. The water is flat-calm and displays crisp reflections of the vessel and the lone house on the island. Artist Keith Reynolds created this composition, entitled Christmas Island, after visiting Christmas Cove just north of Boothbay, where he was inspired by what he saw he saw just off the peninsula.

“One of the things people like about my work is the soft gradation from sky to sea, and the other thing they like are the mirror-like reflections,” Reynolds says. “This island lent itself very well to that interpretation.”

Reynolds, who has been actively painting since 1961, says he has painted hundreds of Maine fishing boats throughout his career and has learned how to depict them by heart. “The Maine fishing boats are such an attractive working boat,” he says. “The angles, the sweep of the hull, lend themselves to artistic interpretation.”

In this painting, only the fishing boat and the island are visible; the rest of the world has dropped off, which is a characteristic element of Reynolds’ world. “I often drop out a lot in the background,” he explains. “Let’s say you’re on the beach and you see a spinnaker sail, bright red against the blue. I think that the moment you focus on that, it’s all you see. Everything else drops away. I take that approach in my work.”

Reynolds, who was born in Seattle, Washington, has been on the water since a young age, having spent his childhood plying Puget Sound on fishing boats, tugs and ferries. He later studied fine art at the University of Oregon before serving in the military in the Sea of Japan and earning a Bachelor of Professional Arts degree from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. But although the waters and craft of New England, the Chesapeake and Florida are his primary subject matter, he doesn’t classify himself as a maritime artist.

“I say I’m a painter of moods, and what better place for moods than the sea?” says Reynolds, who now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island. “It’s a magical place, and it’s constantly changing from winter to summer. The ocean is just dynamic.” 

This article was originally published in the July 2022 issue.

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