Born 1940 in northern Michigan, Phil Capen developed an interest in art early in life, learning the basics from his father. After graduating with a B. A. degree in Chemistry from Eastern College in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, Capens artistic talents lay dormant while he pursued a career in industrial chemistry in Pennsylvania and Michigan. In 1969, after earning his teaching credentials, Capen and his wife, Rosemary, moved their three young children to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There he began a new career, teaching chemistry at St. Croix Senior High School. After living in the tropics a short time Capens artistic talent revived with a year of study under Charles Hawes (AWS) at The College of the Virgin Islands. During his three year stay in the islands, Capen laid a solid foundation for his future art career by painting numerous watercolors of the local landscape including scenes of beaches, boats, houses, and underwater coral reefs. I wanted paintings from the island but couldn’t afford to buy a Hawes original, so decided to paint some myself.
In 1972 Capen and his family returned to Kalamazoo, Michigan where he continued to teach during the school year and pursue his art during summer vacations: painting scenes of old barns, farm houses, and boats. In 1978, Capen and his family returned to the tropics and settled in Miami, Florida. The next year he resigned his teaching position and launched his full-time art career. �At first I did coastal scenes and boats. Then I became interested in Florida’s birds, so explored The Everglades National Park for subject matter. Accurately depicting the Everglades varied environments provided a challenge for several years.
A visit to Marsh Harbor, Abaco, in The Bahamas, renewed Capens interest in island life. His love of sailing, snorkeling, and beach combing has inspired numerous paintings of picturesque island scenes. In 1990, after several trips back to Abaco and one to Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Capen and his wife purchased a share in a vacation home on Green Turtle Cay, where they presently live for several months each year. At his island retreat Capen paints with a view of the ocean to the east and Abaco Sound to the west. He spends his free time sailing, wind surfing and working on the never-ending house projects. "I like living and working on an island," Capen says. "People are more self-reliant; life is simpler and more basic."
People appreciate Capens work not only because it displays superior artistic skill but also because it brings back good memories. Capen has the gift of making each detail in his paintings look true-to-life while maintaining a soft feel. Capen is a master at detail while showing exceptional skill in composition, color, and balance. His work reflects a deep knowledge of his subject matter as well as superb mastery in applying paint to paper or canvas.
Capens excellent work has achieved a growing popularity among the general public and is regularly recognized by awards from the art community. Thousands of private collectors treasure their Phil Capen art, and many corporations, including Disney and Burger King, have added Capen originals to their collections. On three different occasions Capens work has been included in the catalog of the top one-hundred paintings of the Art for the Parks annual contest sponsored by the U.S. National Parks. Another piece, Windward Shore, was recently featured in the book, A Gallery of Marine Art, published by Rockport Publishers. He is an exhibiting member of the American Artists Professional League, Inc., and the International Society of Marine Painters.
In the early 1980’s, because of the overwhelming demand for Capens work, he began publishing his art as limited edition prints. Over 70 images have been reproduced in editions of 750 to 1750; many of which have completely sold out. Until 1998 these prints were available only as offset lithographs, but with the coming of new technology all of Capens reproductions for the foreseeable future will be reproduced with even greater fidelity as Giclees (high quality computer generated digital fine art prints).