Pacific Northwest marine artist Steve Mayo has had a lifetime interest in maritime art and history. As a youth, he learned to sail on the Columbia River where he became fascinated with fishing boats, tugs, and ocean-going shipping. Another strong influence was his father, who imbued in him a passionate interest in 18th century exploration voyages to the Pacific Northwest coast.
Mayo learned technique and composition with the noted watercolor artist Charles Mulvey in Seaview, Washington. He majored in Fine Art for four years including one year at the San Francisco Art Institute. His professional art career began in 1970 with featured shows selling his art while he worked on tugboats for Bellingham Tug & Barge Co., a subsidiary of Foss Maritime. In 1975, Mayo left the tugboat industry to pursue his art career full-time. He used his own 60' classic wooden tug/yacht SKUA to travel to specific locations of historic events in Puget Sound to insure accuracy in his paintings. During this period he also earned his professional captain's license.
In the mid-1970's Mayo began showing his art at the Kirsten Gallery in Seattle, Washington. His one-man shows were often sold out on opening night and his paintings have been featured for over 35 years at Kirsten Gallery's biennial Marine Show. The consistent quality and historical accuracy of his paintings established him as a premier marine artist including a first place award at the 1980 Mystic Seaport International Marine Art Exhibition. In addition, Mayo taught private watercolor lessons for many years. Missing an active involvement in the working waterfront, Mayo returned to captain the 75' oil recovery vessel WESTERN GULL from 1985 to 2005, while continuing to produce historic marine watercolors.
Today Mayo and his wife live in Belllingham, WA where he continues to paint from his studio overlooking the waterfront of Bellingham Bay. His paintings reside in many private and corporate collections internationally and have been featured as covers and illustrations in a number of books on Northwest regional and British Columbia history.