This week’s cover by Doug Zider, “Christmas Eve Arrival,” combines the artist’s two primary interests, maritime landscapes and history. The view of the sea and a ship coming into port as night approaches also reinforce Zider’s style that evokes a special mood. Although the scene is not a contemporary one (circa 1870s), we would feel at home there, meeting family and friends and taking them home to a waiting fireplace and holiday cheer.
The human figures are small in the cover image, overwhelmed by the huge ship. This contrast in scale is arresting, and we are motivated to take a closer look at a boy and his grandfather, a family hurrying home before it gets very dark. Some of Zider’s modern landscapes also feature small objects, including birds in the distance. Whether they are panoramic views or close-ups, the images are crisp and inviting. And oddly enough, they could represent the past as well as the present.
Q: It seems you have combined not only your penchant for coastal towns and history, but I see your being influenced by also mixing illustration and painting.
A: Yes, I like that mixture. Remember Norman Rockwell was considered our finest American illustrator, and Frederick Remington did illustrations in magazines but was a western painter, too.
Q: How about the role that nostalgia plays in your work? I see that, too.
A: When I was a kid I remember Christmas cards with a church in the distance. They’re making a comeback now; there’s a strong sense of nostalgia. My cover tries to capture more simple times.
Q: What is it about the past that attracts you specifically?
A: I’m in love with modes of transportation (particularly clipper ships) and the hardships of those days. But I like the idea of people meeting each other, too, not just here, but also in semi-civilized countries. That’s very romantic for me.
Q: Where did this interest come from, do you think? This sense of adventure and history?
A: My grandmother came over from England a long time ago. I like the idea of someone who had adventure in their life. We also had a relative in the Civil War.
Q: I know you are drawn to Civil War sites, as I am: I grew up not far from several Civil War battlefields in Maryland.
A: Recently we visited Williamsburg, Virginia, and loved going into cornfields with toy muskets. When I was a Boy Scout, we would camp out on the Gettysburg’s battlefield.
Q: What other things through the years have inspired your love of maritime subjects and history?
A: I had a painting of a clipper ship at sea, “Son of the Ocean,” hanging over the mantel that inspired me. And I do live near the water, which is important.
Q: How about movies about the sea? While they might not have influenced you directly, they are some of your favorites, I imagine.
A: Yes. Gulliver’s Travels, Mutiny on the Bounty, Moby Dick.
Q: How do you feel personally about the ocean?
A: It is terrifying out at sea. There is over 100 feet of water, and you don’t know what lurks there. But I have great respect for water. Its power is incredible.
Q: What was your greatest influence?
A: My parents moved from California to Long Island; my father wanted to live by the water. Every day I am so glad to be here, to see the sunset and sunrise. It’s so comforting to live where your roots are. It’s important to know where you are.
Doug Zider’s website is www.dougzider.com
His work is at Sunflower Gallery, Garden City, New York. (172 Seventh Street. Tel. 877-747-7406)