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Seascapes: Iced in

“It is interesting to see schooners in early winter set in ice along the coast of Maine,” says Annapolis, Maryland, artist Leonard Mizerek. “They seem to be locked in a prison of ice till the first melting comes in early spring. When painting this piece, I wanted to tell the story of Mother Nature’s hold on these wooden vessels as they sit.”

Oil painting by Leonard Mizerek.

Mizerek, who grew up in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley — home to the Wyeth family of artists — uses the patch of water amid the ice as a visual element to lead the viewer into the details of the scene. “As an artist, the main attraction of this scene is the strong design of the breaks in the ice,” he says. “I contrasted the darkened sky with the lighter snow. The buildings added color to what could have been a colorless scene. Adding the smoke suggests human activity within the buildings.” Sails were often raised to keep them from freezing and to help them dry.

Mizerek is a plein air artist, which presents a challenge when he paints during the winter. “I paint outdoors to capture the light firsthand and bring out all its color and luminosity,” he says. However, winter light is different, especially if the sky is laden with snow. “Here there is a stillness in the scene, and the sky darkens, showing the effects of the heaviness of moisture in the air.”

Mizerek’s works often depict skies with dramatic lighting and boats in the harbor or at sea. “I like the contrast provided by sail patterns on the water and their reflections,” he says. “I enjoy the way water reflects the floating objects, as well as the sky and time of day. It mirrors shapes and intensifies light.”

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

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue.