There’s something about sailing in fog. The swirling mist, with its smells and sounds, creates a sense of timelessness. Boats move in and out of the shifting gray, and the outer world is veiled and silent.
Sergio Roffo captures that mood in Foggy Regatta. The 30-by-48-inch oil painting shows four racing sailboats in the Opera House Cup Regatta, gliding through the soup on Nantucket Sound. Roffo, who is well-known for his scenes of the New England coast, tries to attend the Nantucket, Massachusetts, regatta for classic wooden boats every summer, chartering a boat and heading out on the course. “It’s a great opportunity for an artist,” he says, “a chance to paint some beautiful and unusual boats, from the big yachts to the little Beetle cats and other small craft.”
The 63-year-old artist worked with photos and small studies to create Foggy Regatta. (The action on the racecourse is sometimes best captured with a camera.) “It was a foggy, breezy day with choppy water,” he says. “And to me this was just a wonderful composition.”
With its variations in color, fog is a challenge to paint, Roffo says. He builds the background first using a glazing and layering technique practiced by early American artists. The details follow. “You have to get the [boats ’ color] values right so that they pop out, so that you have a sense of depth,” he says. “That’s what you have to create.”
Roffo, a Fellows member of the American Society of Marine Artists and a Copley Master of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, enjoys the challenge. “I love foggy scenes,” he says. “They are so moody, and it is such a strange thing to capture.”
His fans like them, too. “Pretty much every one I do sells.”
To view this and other works by Sergio Roffo, visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at jrusselljinishiangallery.com or visit the gallery at 1899 Bronson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue.