Lauren at Rest
22 x 60 in.
Acrylic on board
Available at South Street Art Gallery

A lifetime love of ships transformed Steve Rogers into a marine artist.

“I have never ceased to be fascinated by ships and the sea. I am also drawn to marshlands and boatyards. The craftsmanship, design, and beauty in the building of a ship or for that matter, a simple skiff, captivates me. I love the stark beauty of the wetlands, the sheer power of the ocean, and the inherent structures in the docks and warehouses of a working waterfront,” says Rogers.

With much of our marine heritage slowly fading away under the irresistible and relentless pressure of development, Rogers views his work as a small effort to preserve some memories of what used to be for those who remember fondly, and for those who are unaware of what life was like only a few short decades ago.

“Some people have said there is sadness in my work. To some extent there may be, but it is more a recognition, admiration and respect for the lives and work of those who earn their livings on the water.”

Rogers makes his home in Lewes, Delaware. It is a small resort town where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Although tourist-oriented now, in the recent past it was a major fishing port for the menhaden fleet. It is the oldest town in Delaware, not settled by the English, but by the Dutch.

“It is a true small town; everybody knows everybody. My studio is in a house built in 1820. Lewes was shelled by a British fleet during the War of 1812 but all they managed to do was kill a chicken!”

The area is surrounded by estuaries and coastal marshes and bordered on the east by the extensive Cape Henlopen State Park. To the north are the Prime Hook and Bombay Hook wildlife refuges. With natural beauty in almost every direction, Rogers finds the surroundings an inspiring place to live and work.

Rogers grew up in Chester County, Pennsylvania, on a small farm. It is Wyeth country. His interest in any form of art was always encouraged. Upon turning 18, it was time for the big decision of whether to go to art school or to regular college.

“My parents had lived through the Depression and World War II. Their understandable view was that the art thing was fine, but I needed to be able to get a real job, and college was the only way.”

Rogers attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. There were only a few art courses; he took all of them, graduating with a degree in anthropology. After a stint in the service, Rogers worked in store design and advertising production. In 1989 he turned to art full time.

“I have a side interest in building ship models, have published five books about building models and on a fairly regular basis teach a scratch model building course at the WoodenBoat School in Brooklin, Maine. With art, I approach each painting differently. Sometimes a piece is a work of pure imagination. It could be based on something I saw one place added to something from another. Other times, it’s based on fieldwork. I take a lot of photographs. I actually have files on specific boats that cover several years and locations.”

Upon finding an appealing subject, Rogers will photograph it from every angle possible. This is the first step in developing the composition. At a later point, he crops and refines the images and then tapes several of them over the easel, moving elements around to make a more effective composition. Occasionally, he will use some of his ship models to further visualize how a boat will look from different perspectives. Light pencil sketches define the final composition, but not without the occasional erasure and redraw. Next, a light wash of under-color begins the painting.

“The composition process is more challenging than the painting part. Although I work in acrylics, I use oil techniques. I like to see paint strokes and texture and I love the look of canvas. From this point on, the painting takes on a life of its own and even though I think I know where it’s going, I can be surprised. Sometimes, I just have to stop. I get up, go outside and watch the ospreys across the street, the blue heron in the marsh, and the seagulls wheeling and diving above the canal. After a few minutes, I go back to work.”

Steve is a Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists.

A solo exhibition of Rogers’ work opens September 7th and continues through September 21st at South Street Art Gallery.

Visit the gallery online to see more of Rogers’ work and sign up for the gallery e-newsletter for updates on new work and events. South Street Art Gallery is located in Easton, Maryland and features work by a diverse group of international painters and sculptors. The gallery can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.