Artist Profile: Stephen Knight

Cape Cod Art  /  ART Annual 2019 / ,

Writer: Rory Marcus

“The Creek in Summer” • 11” x 14” • Oil on linen board

Stephen Knight’s travels have taken his talents all over the world. He’s painted in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and France. But he settled down on the Cape, where his love of the sea, fishing, and painting en plein air has fully engaged him since 1995.

As a well-known marine artist, Knight paints the New England coast, primarily Cape Cod. “When there’s green on the marshes, I’ll be out painting plein air,” Knight says. “In the outdoors I can become part of nature and feel so much more. I want to express how I feel about the wonders we have here.” In so many of his paintings, Knight reveals the rhythms of the lakes, marshes and estuaries as they wind through the Cape’s landscapes at different times of day under an expansive sky.    

A resident of Centerville, Knight, who still consults for a British travel agency, has been a longtime member of the Cape’s artistic community—he is a past director of the Cape Cod Art Association (now the Cape Cod Art Center). He has organized plein air trips to France, studied with master marine artists Joseph McGurl, Donald Demers and T. Allen Lawson, and takes trips every year to paint the New England coast with like-minded artists.  

“My paintings are constantly evolving expressions of how I feel about my surroundings,” Knight says. “I strive to be more painterly. When you begin you tend to paint what you see and with detail, and as you progress you become less detailed and begin to paint what you feel about what you see. Nature is a great guide.” The Cape’s light is the source of endless attraction for the artist. “I am fascinated by the effects of light and its role in revealing mood and atmosphere—the solitude of water, the sweep of sea and sky,” he says. 

Knight says he loves to paint en plein air: “I need to be at one with my scene to capture on canvas the immediacy of time and place.” When he finds a scene he wants to capture, “my first priority is to check the position of the sun and how its movement will affect the shadows,” Knight explains. He carries a compass for this purpose. “I make sure that my easel is facing the sun so that my canvas and palette are in shadow.” 

“My paintings are
constantly evolving expressions of
how I feel about my surroundings.”

And then he has two to three hours to paint to his heart’s content. “The light from the sky is the most important element,” he says. “I’m most excited by how that light affects the entire scene. After understanding that, I can focus on composition and values and color.”    

Knight’s work has been juried into Cape Cod, regional and international maritime exhibitions for many years. He is a longtime participant in exhibitions at The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, where his paintings “Summer Sunrise” and “A Day on the Cape” are on exhibit through June 22. In addition, as it has been for many years, he also expects his work to be in their prestigious upcoming 40th International Marine Art Exhibition in September.

Representation at Chatham Fine Art in Chatham (; The Gallery on Jarves in Sandwich (; and Thanassi Gallery in Provincetown. Learn more at