Friday, July 29, 2011

Pierce Island

Pierce Island is a small island in the Piscataqua River that belongs to the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
The Piscataqua River has some of the fastest tidal currents of any river on the eastern coast of the U.S.
Bridges  4x6 watercolor

The island looks across the river at Badger's Island and Seavey's Island in Kittery, Maine which were the homes of famous shipyards that built fleets of clipper ships. When I first moved to the seacoast I lived in a house in a tiny, quiet neighborhood on Badger's Island.  

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is on Seavey's Island.  It is a hub of activity where they repair submarines. 

Pierce Island is a quiet place on a busy harbor. It has walking trails, picnic areas, a swimming pool, a boat launch and the state wharf. 

Wild roses grow in profusion all over the island.

It's July so the rose hips are ripe. They are high in vitamin c and make the best jam and tea! 

Plein Air Painters of Maine were meeting on the island to paint for the day. I found a  parking spot right on the river front.  My good friend Ellen arrived and set up to paint near me. 

It was overcast with fast moving clouds heading out to sea. The weather report predicted thunder storms. I stayed close to my car to paint. Everyone who sees my car loves to look in it at all my painting gear. It looks like a treasure chest to them.  

Ellen was painting in pastels. What a different set up than mine ! She needs different types of pastels and a variety of colors.  She has all these boxes of colors she brings. She sets them up on a small table.

She showed me how she sketched in her design and the types of pastels she used for sketching.

I was painting with a limited palette of lemon yellow, medium red, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and white. I premixed all my color groups before I started to paint.

The sun broke through the cloud cover every now and then. The tide was going out and the light was changing drastically.

  Ellen was laying down areas of different colors, then blending them together with her fingers.

I moved my easel and palette into the shade so I could see the colors I was mixing accurately.  

The sun was out, it became warm and I loaned Ellen my hat. It was actually getting hot !

After she placed in her foreground Ellen drew in the placement of the bridges. Wow, what a different approach with this dry medium. She drew right on top of all the other colors.

I can't do that easily with wet oil paint. 

I have to wait for it to set up or use something to speed up the drying time. 

The tide was now all the way out and the Memorial Bridge opened up to the top. People watching were getting excited hoping a big ship would come through.  

 When I lived on Badger's Island I used to watch ships come and go all the time. I could  look out my  kitchen window and a ship bigger than a five story building would go by. I got used to it. It was part of life on an island in a busy harbor. 
Three Bridges 6x12 oil


  1. This is a great painting Mary- love how you handled the bridges- nice lace- love the effect.

  2. Thank you Susan! Lace, that's a great word for it . I was trying for that see thru effect....