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To the Rescue

Acrylic Painting by Keith Reynolds

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The sea is quiet, its surface glassy. A square-rigger sits becalmed, wreathed in a light haze. A tugboat barely breaks the mirror surface; the only clue to its movement is the bow wave and a stream of gray smoke from its stack.

“I envisioned a situation in which a becalmed ship awaited the arrival of a tug to see them into a nearby harbor. I wanted that atmosphere, that feeling of anticipation, to predominate,” says veteran maritime artist Keith Reynolds.

From the realistic to the impressionistic, there are as many ways to depict the ways and weather of the sea as there are artists. “When asked about my work as a maritime artist, I usually reply that more likely I am a painter of moods, and what better place for such a variety of moods than the sea,” says Reynolds. “Think of the ocean’s four seasons — at dawn, midday or eventide, from a crisp New England morning to a hazy, hot sunset over the Gulf Stream.”

Born in Seattle in 1929, Reynolds got a feel for the sea growing up along the shores of Puget Sound. He later worked the fishing vessels, tugboats and bay ferries of the Pacific Northwest. He studied fine art at the University of Oregon and the Art Center College of Design and began his active career in 1961. In 1980, he gained recognition with his America’s Cup painting “Duel,” which became the official Cup poster and is now considered a classic.

A prolific painter, his works focus primarily on the watercraft of New England, often depicted with a surreal quality. “In a painting like this one, I try to isolate the subject so that the viewer sees the beauty of one object — the tug,” he says. “So I used the fog to set the mood, enshrouding this fine old craft and engulfing the viewer in that lovely soft blue-white mist.”

Says J. Russell Jinishian: “Using powerful colors and delicate brushwork, he creates a world where disparate elements vibrate together, as in a great piece of music.”

For more of Reynolds’ work, visit the J. Russell Jinishian Gallery website at

August 2013 issue