Friday, November 25, 2011

Late Light in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a really great town on the New England seacoast. It's the biggest port in the state of New Hampshire.

I've always loved this place. It is old. It has great alleys, buildings and streets. It's a destination for visitors...

...and the biggest town in my neck of the woods.

So when I was feeling like painting in a downtown setting last week...

I headed for Portsmouth and set up my easel right behind my car in front of the post office.

There is very limited parking in Portsmouth as it is a real busy little hub... I painted fast ! Today I had two hours to set up, paint and break down.

I was more than lucky with the weather; it was quiet, sunny and warm.  

This spot picked me. I was going to set up in Market Square to paint the people walking around.
Pencil sketch,4x6 

No way!  While driving down the one way street into the square I saw this view and yelled "Stop - this is it !" 

I moved fast. After my initial pencil sketch, I put my brush into paint and laid the design in.

The streets were humming with cars and people. I had to concentrate on what I was doing. 

It was nice to have my car parked next to me. It created a buffer and I only had to make sure I didn't step out into traffic in the road.

Everything down the street into the square was back-lit and side-lit as the sun went down in the south west. 

Canyons... was all I could think of.  I've only painted canyons during the brief time I visited out west.

Obviously it had a big effect on me.  When I'm in cities with tall buildings they remind me of the canyons in Arizona, Wyoming and Utah. 

Yes. This is unusual for me to be seeking out a man-made landscape.  Buildings?   And lots of buildings? 

Yet it seemed like the place to be even with the parking restrictions in the prime painting locations.

It's like I'm backing into my subject matter these days instead of heading straight at it.

I'm not thinking "Oh I'd like to paint buildings."

It's more like, "What does that place look like in the evening or after dark ?" 

I've found that it doesn't look like I think it will !

You can never tell.  Lighting makes all the difference 

I think I have a perfect place and great view picked out discover later as the light changes that I have what I want for 15 minutes if I'm lucky .

And now after one quick outing on the streets of Portsmouth I realize I'm barely scratching the surface...

...of the hundreds of paintings waiting to happen here.

Of course I need to have those great lighting conditions for some of them.

And it doesn't hurt to have a warm feeling for this lovely old port.
Daniel St Sketch, 12x12 oil on canvas panel


  1. Love it ! I have done many scenes like your photos ,but you are braver than me ,I have only set up a few times and the rest were sketches from the car and lots of photos , I admire your endurance to be there all day, good for you ! we have to meet sometimes.

  2. Thank you Nita! I'd love to meet you ! Come up and paint with us next week in Portsmouth. Send me a message on FB for details.