Due to its unexplored and often inhospitable constitution, the marine world is virtually tantamount to another planet within our own. Astronomers have a more complete knowledge of the moon’s surface than marine biologists do of planet’s oceans. Pierre Bernay is fully aware of this fact and his tenure as a marketing manager in the highly technical composite sector of the boat building industry has informed many of his conceptions of marine aesthetics. Due to this, Bernay concentrates his artistic focus on marine vessels of human design ranging from sports yachts to various naval vessels. Vast apparatuses for naval exploration or exploitation enwrap Bernay’s artistic focus. In his own words Bernay emphasizes, “I believe I, as a marine artist, have a job which is to create on my canvas an open window to infinite spaces and give dreams to my viewers.” Realism enables the canvas to serve as a window to any artist’s mind and Pierre Bernay’s mind harbors a world of marine motifs. When his twenty-three year old son, Luc, decided upon a father-son sailing trip to Antarctica, Bernay’s fascination with all things marine truly began to soar. To this day, glacial structures, icy waters, and mountains remain a favorite source of inspiration for Bernay.
About Pierre Bernay
Pierre Bernay is a representational painter who always had a strong interest in marine subjects. He had the privilege of working closely to the marine world for twenty years as a marketing manager in the high tech composite end of the boat building business. During this time, he familiarized himself with the shipyards around the world while building racing yachts for the Vendée Globe, The America’s Cup, and various military vessels. Bernay’s family is originally from Normandy, and he grew up as a sailor in Brittany. While he was growing up, he participated in many regattas in France and England. Unfortunately, during these years he did not have a lot of spare time to paint his marine subjects. However, Pierre found naval structures to have such natural beauty, he would admire their vivid colors in welding and carpentry workshops, and also during numerous maintenance operations. Bernay became a full time marine painter two years ago, and he joined the American Society of Marine Artists. His specific interest is in Plein air painting as it is the very technique that is used to capture the tones, values, and contrast in situ and make sketches for larger paintings in studio.
My painting prospects turned out in a more serious manner when I met Anna Neis, Director of the Princeton Academy of Art who teaches the European classical tradition and techniques of the Renaissance. New possibilities were in sight, I could see that painting is not only a matter of “lucky mistakes” and color matching but much more than that. It is an endless study of values with a limited palette. I believe I, as a marine artist, have a job which is to create on my canvas an open window to infinite spaces and give dreams to my viewers. As someone says, we paint because we have something to say, but painting is a language one has to learn; sometimes the hard way. I strongly believe that in painting, hard work is the way, but how joyful it is when sometimes something really nice, maybe unexpectedly, appears on your canvas.
Marine painting became a real subject when my son Luc (23), also a painter, and myself decided to sail to Antarctica in 2017 to paint in plain air. We did this incredible journey on a sailing boat across the Southern Oceans to explore the Antarctic Peninsula. Our portable painting equipment carefully prepared, we could work directly on the subject. It is a great way to enjoy the purity of the glaciers, icebergs, and mountatins and try to capture their structure. At first sight everything looks chaotic, but when watching more carefully, we can see the incredible harmony of the white continent.
Antarctica is still my main subject for the year to come, however I still plan to paint seascapes and boats more intensively.
Conferences and Exhibitions
2018: Conférence “Painting Antarctica”, Cranbury, New Jersey
2017: Conférence “Plein Air Painting in Antarctica” and “Oh La La” Exhibition, Princeton, New Jersey
2016: Exhibition “Peintres en Hiver”, Nantes, France