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Portland Artist Reflects Three Generations' Links To The Sea

Peter Bramhall painting white boat maine coast

Peter Bramhall started painting later in life and focused on the Maine coast. Photo courtesy of Festive Fish.

One of Alison Bramhall’s strongest memories is growing up on the water. With an artistic mother and a sailing father who loved to draw, the Maine shore was Bramhall’s summer oasis and a source of ideas and materials. Her brightly colored art is a testament to those days when she was small. “Growing up, it was fun to explore the coast and discover all the little treasures along the shore,” she says. “Fun” is just one word to describe her decorative art. Her company, Festive Fish, sells notecards, pillows, calendars and decorative items for the home. All her vibrant designs have their roots in Maine’s briny waters.

Festive Fish sketch work

Alison Bramhall uses bright colors to portray iconic Maine images

Festive also carries a line of notecards designed to pay tribute to her father, Peter, who began creating pastel paintings of the Maine coast once he retired as a vice-president at the financial firm, Hornblower and Weeks. Most of those paintings contain lobster boats, traps and buoys. “I remember we took a two-day painting class at Maine Audubon one summer, and the assignment was to paint this tree on the property,” reminisces Bramhall. “We’re standing in the middle of this field and I look over to see how my dad is doing and his painting is of lobster buoys!” The elder Bramhall inherited his artistic leanings from his mother, Elinor. With an art degree from Simmons College, Elinor preferred to draw people, creating medical illustrations documenting her husband’s work as a doctor at Maine Medical Center. She also drew handbags and gloves for advertisements in the Portland Press Herald and was a celebrated painter. Her most striking piece is a two-tone chart of Casco Bay. Previously on loan to the Portland Yacht Club, it currently hangs in a boathouse in Boothbay, owned by granddaughter Betsy.

Elinor Bramhall painted this immense chart. It now hangs in her granddaughter's renovated boathouse in Boothbay.

Each generation of the Bramhall family created art in his or her way, which one can see on Bramhall’s website. She creates charts of Maine waters herself, brightly colored posters and prints designed to serve as love letters to the Maine coast. All profits from the sale of her father’s notecards go toward The Bramhall Family Scholarship Fund. While Bramhall confesses that she’ll never draw like her grandmother or even her father, her own art reflects the same passion for and appreciation of Maine’s remarkable coast.


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