Once you have seen a painting by William R. Davis, you will understand why Mr. Davis has a national reputation as one of the best marine artists presently working in the United States. Mr. Davis grew up in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He is a self-taught artist whose oil paintings typically capture the serene light of sunrise or sunset on the water. He employs many of the techniques traditionally used by American luminist painters to realize his personal vision, showing a marked preference for 19th century subjects.
In 1987, Davis made history with the first one artist show ever mounted at the prestigious Mystic Maritime Gallery in Mystic, Connecticut. All twenty of the works featured in that show were sold at the opening reception. In 1990 he received the Mystic Maritime Gallery Award of Excellence and his painting entitled "Calm Day off Latimer's Reef" appeared on the cover of Mystic's The Art of the Sea Calendar in 1993. Images of his paintings have been used in numerous books and magazines. He has also been included in the latest edition of E.H.H. Archibald's authoritative volume on Marine Art from the Flemish masters to the present.
Much of Davis' early works pays homage to 19th century artists such as James Bard, Martin Johnson Heade, Antonio Jacobsen and Fitz Hugh Lane. He limits himself to about 30 colors in the palette of that period. He describes his style as "A conglomerate of a number of ideas I saw in other artists with my own refinements". Over the years, he has incorporated his fascinations for the different techniques of these artists. This may be best explained in the works of painter, William Merritt Chase, prominently displayed in his studio, "The most original painters are those who have stolen here a little and there a little from everyone. When they arrive at the levels of the masters, they will find they can do so much better work themselves that they can't help being original".
Davis has shifted in the last few years to painting more landscapes on location. In the process, he has converted to plein air painting, partly influenced by his friendship with artists Joseph McGurl and Donald Demers. This trio, "The New American Luminists" have been painting together periodically since 1998.