This book changed my opinion of Portland

Paintings of Portland by Carl and David Little changed my perspective of Maine’s largest city.

A few years ago, I spoke to the Portland Rotary and the first thing I said was, “Have any of you ever been to Maine?” There was a lot of hooting and laughter, but my speech was about rural Maine and that’s not Portland. I’ve often said that Maine starts north of Augusta.

After thoroughly enjoying the amazing paintings of Portland in this book, published by Down East Books, I’m going to have to admit that Portland has been, and still is, a beautiful place. Henry Wardsworth Longfellow called Portland “the beautiful town that is seated by the sea,” and he was correct.

In the book’s introduction, the Littles report that “Portland has received all kinds of accolades in recent years, for its food, livability, diversity, and access to great natural beauty… (and) is today a place of art and artists.”

Calling Portland “the front door of Maine” they dip far back to include paintings from the early 1800s. Wait ‘til you see our state capital in 1820 (eventually the capital was moved to Augusta). All of the paintings in the book are stunning, particularly the one of the ship blowing up that Confederates set afire. Yes, there is a lot of history in these paintings.

Linda and I love Peaks Island, a part of Portland, so the paintings there really pleased me. And they include art by Marsha Donahue, one of my favorites who lives in Millinocket. There’s even a neat painting of the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team.

Given that I have ALS, I was also interested in the art of Jon Imber who died of ALS in 2014. I learned about an inspiring film, Imber’s Left Hand, highlighting his determination to not quit painting despite his illness.

There are many paintings of the city, as well as the islands, ships, lighthouses, indoor and outdoor activities, and so much more. There’s a lot to the city of Portland and it’s all here, presented so beautifully.

Carl and his brother David collaborated on two other books that I loved, Art of Katahdin and Art of Acadia, so I really looked forward to this new book. Carl has authored more than a dozen art books and is Communications Director for the Maine Community Foundation and David is an artist whose work has been displayed from the Blaine House to the Farnsworth Museum.

Now, I have to credit them and thank them for changing my opinion of Portland!

Photo: Peaks Island, taken by me

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.