Soundings - - Contents - OIL PAINT­ING BY WIL­LIAM R. DAVIS — Steve Knauth

“It’s like a ves­sel that needs a cou­ple of coats of paint for the true color to come out,” Wil­liam Davis says. He’s de­scrib­ing the way he lay­ered the oils to con­vey na­ture’s sub­tle shades in Last Sail of the Sea­son. “You work in stages. The sky — it might take sev­eral coats to get it right.”

The re­sult is a “snap­shot of a scene, a pe­riod,” the 65-year-old artist says from his Har­wich, Mas­sachusetts, stu­dio. Here, it’s late fall in Maine. “Not a bad day to go sail­ing, but prob­a­bly the last,” he says. “The feel is [of] chang­ing tem­per­a­tures, that we’re

not go­ing to get a day that’s bet­ter than to­day. The har­bor has emp­tied out, and it won’t be long be­fore the snows fly.”

The dark­en­ing sky and darker fore­ground “leave lots of room in the mid­dle to make things jump,” Davis says. The gray water is windswept and choppy. A pair of seabirds stand out against the sky. But it’s the group of trees that set the whole tone, he says. “The leaves are gone, the limbs are bare, [and] win­ter is com­ing on fast.”

Davis’ works are gen­er­ally com­pos­ites of places and scenes around Down East Maine. “The sub­jects are my own, and I im- pro­vise the ves­sels to give it a feel,” he says. That process gives the works a sense of time­less­ness; it’s dif­fi­cult to tell if the year is 1900 or 2017.

Davis honed his skills through a life­time of learn­ing, aided by a sea­far­ing back­ground; his great-great-grand­fa­ther was a steamer cap­tain. Grow­ing up on Cape Cod, Mas­sachusetts, he took to art early, teach­ing him­self to paint. His in­spi­ra­tions in­clude such 19th-cen­tury greats as Fitz Hugh Lane, Antonio Ja­cob­sen and James Bard. “I paint with a 19th-cen­tury flair,” Davis says.

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

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