When Robert Frazier prepares to paint, he selects only a limited choice of colors—just as his mother taught him. The oil painter creates evocative, Impressionistic landscapes with only two yellows, three blues, two reds, a dark brown, and a white. He says he wants each painting to portray the special mood of a particular subject with vivid immediacy.

This artist is lucky because Nantucket—the place Frazier has called home for most of his adult life—has plenty of moods. The panoramic, ever-changing canvas of land, sky, and water is a source of constant inspiration. “If you paint along the beach and sky anywhere along the Northeast coast, you paint in a limited direction. On Nantucket, you get 360 degrees of the compass: the big skies, the low dunes—it’s beautiful,” says Frazier.

Nantucket’s expansive sky—and the ever-changing weather—are two of Frazier’s muses. Living 30 miles out to sea inspires the en plein air painter to see the weather swirling around the island with occasionally incredible cloud formations that the artist says are rife with fleeting color, which he tries to capture in many of his works.

“My style is fairly loose and fast,” Frazier says, noting that he likes to use large brushes for spontaneous results. Even when painting in the studio, without the threat of rain or changing light, the painter still finds himself working quickly. Over time, he has come to favor sturdy painting surfaces, like wood or Masonite, over canvas.

The artist’s mother was also a talented oil painter, drawn to Nantucket by the island’s vibrant artist colony. Frazier continues to be inspired and intrigued by the stories and influence of Nantucket artists. He is a longtime member of the Artists Association of Nantucket and currently serves on the association’s staff as curator of exhibitions. In his capacity as curator, he has done extensive research on Nantucket artists and is influenced by the masters that came before him. He’ll often set up an easel in the same spots on the island where those much-admired artists created art before him.

When not painting, Frazier finds time for his other creative pursuit: writing. As a science fiction writer, he has sold more than 60 stories, and he has written prolifically on the evolution of Nantucket’s artist colony, including The Waterfront Artists, Painters Who Changed Nantucket.


Robert Frazier’s work can be viewed at Old Spouter Gallery, 118 Orange Street; the Artists Association of Nantucket gallery, 19 Washington Street; and Nantucket Looms, 51 Main Street.