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  • Writer's pictureSheldon

Sun, Sea, Sand, Sky - the works of Ken Zier

“Sitting down and painting a painting in nature was previously quite a natural thing for many artists. Today, it’s close to being forgotten.” - Ken Zier

Born in the coastal city of Aarhus, Denmark, the sea and the process of painting it has always been a factor in Ken Zier's life. The grandson of legendary Scandinavian maritime painter Wolmer Zier and one of a family of keen yachtsmen, Ken mentions always taking a pad of paper with him to sketch during summer boating holidays. These early experiences out on the boat, the exposure to the temperamental nature of the sea, and the unique beauty of the Danish coastline continue to inspire Zier to this day.

Though he started out using pen and ink, Ken's discovery of the oil on canvas medium lead him to pursue a career as a boat portraitist. As his skill with the new medium developed, the boats themselves began to feature less and less prominently in his work, with the focus turning towards the sea itself.


Returning Summer Sailors (39.5x67)


Ken's subject matter hinges around the relationship between the water and the sky and the mirror currents in both which he renders visible through his expressive and textured application of paint. Zier regularly follows regattas and paints not the event itself as much as the feeling left behind. this nontraditional approach makes him a sought after artist in residence for sailing events worldwide. In fact , the Danish brewery Harboe, (the main sponsors of Royal Yacht ‘Nanoq’) comissioned Ken to follow the event and document it. Ken followed the race over four days making various sketches that were worked to full oils. One of these was gifted to the Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and another is in the collection of the Harboe brewery.


September Sunset (33x66)


One of his most critically intriguing projects was the 2012-13 “One Man One Beach” project funded by the National Trust in Denmark. Over a period of one Year Ken Zier did one painting a week from the same spot on a beach in the National Park of Mols Bjerge. During this year Ken painted a single stretch of beach to the exclusion of all else; paying close attention to the evolving tidal landscape and the seasonal idiosyncrasies of the sky and weather. The purpose of this project was to create a space for meditation on the importance of place, a celebration of the beauty of the familiar coastline just outside his front door.


Exploding Clouds (66.5x45) A Night Walk (45x45)


Ken Zier's work is proudly featured in private collections worldwide and awarded at many international art shows. His works have been showcased at the highly acclaimed annual exhibition of maritime art in the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London, as well as the 33rd edition of the International Maritime Exhibition which is held annually at Mystic Seaport.

Today Zier lives and works in Ebeltoft Denmark, an old port town on Denmarks east coast.

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