It’s sunrise over Nantucket Island and marine artist Sergio Roffo is out and about looking for inspiration. He finds it in this tranquil seascape—a Concordia yawl, heeled over in an early breeze, arriving for the island’s traditional Opera House Cup regatta. The sky and sea reveal the luminous quality, the sense of calm that characterizes much of Roffo’s work. It’s achieved with a painstaking glazing and layering of colors in this oil-on-canvas piece, a technique used by early American landscape painters. The motion of the boat is subtle, yet unmistakable, conveyed simply by the heel, the taut canvas and the white bow waves.
“This particular painting came from a wonderful sunrise one morning,” says the 68-year-old Roffo. “The Opera House Cup is a cherished tradition on Nantucket. It’s held every August on the island, and it was the first all-wood, single-hulled classic regatta on the East Coast. This regatta is the grand finale of Nantucket Race Week.”
Born in Italy in 1953, Roffo grew up in America, inspired by traditional American painters such as the 19th-century landscape artist George Innes and Albert Bierstadt, a German-American who is perhaps best known for capturing the American West on oversized canvases. An honors graduate from the Vesper George School of Art, Roffo studied with still-life and landscape artists Robert Cormier and Robert Douglas Hunter before embarking on his own career. He is now a member of the American Society of Marine Artists.
Honors aside, it’s the island that inspires him. “Nantucket is one of the most beautiful places to paint,” says Roffo. “With its pristine coastline and quaint harbors, historical buildings and picturesque trails, the island offers something for everyone. I’ve been painting here for over 30 years, and still I find a challenge every time I set up to paint on location.”
This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue.