The Working Waterfront - September 2022

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The Working Waterfront . september 2022

Art of the Waterfront

Tina Ingraham paints the Custom House Wharf Fixed architecture evolves with light and waterfront work By Carl Little

different places, the docks moved around, changing tides in the morning and afternoon light.” Such alterFOR THE WATERCOLOR class she taught in the ations have kept her engaged. In Harbor Fish Market, Portland Pier, 2005, shadows continuing studies program at the Portland School of Art in 1987, painter Marsha Donahue took her play across the running façade. The humble sunlit strucstudents to the Custom House Wharf, a venerable part tures come alive through Ingraham’s lively brushwork. While she takes great care in drawing the architecture of the city’s working waterfront. “Because I had never seen it before, hidden amidst the Portland buildings,” in perspective, she notes idiosyncrasies in the windows’ Tina Ingraham recalls, “it felt like I had walked into a lineup. She works with high contrasts, “keeping the darks under the dock transparent, so one can different world.” Ingraham fell in love see into the depths under it,” and uses with the place and has now painted layered pentimenti of transparent it many times—more than any other oil washes over an egg-oil emulsion subject in her repertoire. The humble sunlit grisaille to get the right atmospheric Ingraham began her long-time light. Her palette includes Flake White, romance with the wharf in 2004 structures come Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cobalt or when she returned from living and alive through Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber, Raw painting in Italy for several years. She Sienna, and Ivory Black. had remembered her 1987 watercolor Ingraham’s lively Part of the attraction of the subject painting experience and when she brushwork. lies in Ingraham’s love of fishing. was invited to paint for the biennial “While painting I witnessed the Portland Show at Greenhut Galleries, working aspects of the industry,” she returned to the pier. she notes. She watched the lobster The facade of the south side of catchers come and go, the busy fishthe Harbor Fish Market reminded Ingraham of the Italian architecture she had seen in mongers, with “the salt smell in the air, the gull cries, Perugia dating back to Etruscan times, “historical struc- street people and tourists.” Ingraham has never actually met the fish market tures built upon, not destroyed for something new.” She folks, although she has waved to them. ended up painting several small oils. “I was always intent on my drill, and at the end of Although the wharf is very old and worn, Ingraham notes, every season reveals changes: “a new facade, a the day, exhausted, it never occurred to me to search new paint job, new clapboards, the lobster traps in anyone out.”

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Tina Ingraham sets up to paint the Harbor Fish Market on the Custom House Wharf in Portland. PHOTO: JESSE LaFOUNTAINE

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