Word With... Chuck Paine
Founder of one
of the country’s top custom-yacht design companies, Chuck Paine has
designed and engineered more than 1,000 powerboats and sailboats in his
35-year career. The Maine native not only brings art to his work, he also
brings his work to art. Six years ago he took up oil painting, and today
his coastal and marine scenes are sold in galleries across New England.
PMY recently talked to Paine about his life as both artist and
Q: After so many
decades of designing boats, what part of the process have you come to
enjoy the most?
A: I really
love seeing them launched. Building a boat is a lengthy process—longer
than the gestation period of a human being, most of the time. And, like
a pregnancy, you have to contend with a lot of pain along the way. But
watching that birth, it’s just a wonderful result of all your hard
Q: Is there any
part of the business that you’ve grown to dislike?
just that: the entire business side of it. I hate collecting bills, keeping
accounts, all the logistical aspects. Thankfully, I have a wonderful partner
who takes care of those things for me: my wife.
Q: Your reputation
as a naval architect speaks for itself, but now you’re also gaining
a name as a painter. How do the two jobs compare?
is by far the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. After 35 years,
designing a boat is easy. Painting is the great challenge now.
Q: How did the
artistic drive devleop?
A: I started
painting as a kid, but quit when I was 14 when my parents made me realize
I had to do something to earn a living at some point. I didn’t pick
up a brush again for 40 years. On my 54th birthday, my wife said to me,
“All you talk about is yachts. Get a life!” She was absolutely
right. She gave me some paints and canvases and said, “Go paint.”
Q: Looking through
your recent work, it’s clear that you’re attracted to boats,
coastlines, and seascapes. What do you look for the most in your subjects?
A: I really
enjoy learning how to paint water. Landscapes, waves crashing on the shore,
those scenes are easier to do. Marine art—open oceans, storms at
sea, yachts far offshore—is much harder, and much more desirable
Q: Like seeing
one of your boats launched, do you most enjoy seeing a painting completed?
it’s entirely different. Building a boat is a long, often tedious,
process with many people helping. Of course, I love designing boats. But
with painting, the joy is entirely personal. When you’re painting—say,
a wave at sea—sometimes you have to stare at the canvas for 30 minutes
before the vision, the Zen, inspires you to make a single stroke. You
feel so much joy in those moments when you know you’ve pulled it
three miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, you might expect to see in
the distance the profile of a sanguine Sealine—not a frantic feline.
In July boaters cruising
around Homosassa Bay, Florida, spotted a ten-week-old kitten paddling
feverishly to stay afloat, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
Maggie Rogers and her
fellow boaters heard the tiny, orange kitten screaming furiously as they
drew closer in their 17-footer. They managed to rescue the stranded cat
“We scooped him
up, and he sat on the boat with me for eight hours,” Rogers was quoted
as saying. “He was exhausted and stressed.”
How the kitten got there
remains a mystery. The rescuers said about 40 boats were cruising in the
area that day, but no one ever came forward to claim a lost pet.
Rogers gave the sea
cat to her sister-in-law, who aptly named him Nemo.
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