How do we get hooked on boats and boating? Where does our passion for being on the water come from? When did it start? For some, it began as a child, on that first family cruise or fishing trip. For others, it started with a model boat launched on a sunny summer day. The latter is the theme of Leonard Mizerek’s 24-by-36 oil painting “Sailing Day.”
“I came across this scene in Cape Porpoise, Maine, not far from the Bush estate in Kennebunkport,” Mizerek says. “They were launching toy boats in the shallow water.”
Mizerek, with a sailor’s eye, saw the scene as a beginner’s experience—a bonding of father and son. And, yes, “a future sailor in the making,” he says. The Maine-based painter also saw the scene with an artist’s eye. “I was watching the boats move under their own power. It was fascinating and caught my attention as the scene played out.”
Mizerek grew up and nurtured his craft in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, home to the Wyeth family of artists. Today, Mizerek is known for his coastal landscapes, done with what experts call his characteristic luminous, light colors and expressive brushwork. “Light alters the color of all objects and touches those nearby,” he says. “It sets a mood and evokes emotion, which I strive to portray in my work.”
Water can make the colors even more evocative, Mizerek says. “I prefer marine subjects because I enjoy the way water reflects the floating objects, as well as the sky and the time of day; it mirrors shapes and intensifies light.” As a result, much of his work is done en plein air, or outdoors, so he can experience the subtleties of a particular scene. He is a member of the New England Plein Air Painters.
“I paint outdoors to capture light firsthand and bring out all its color and luminosity,” he says. “And I’m particularly drawn to painting a scene that tells a story.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue.