Ellen Rice revisits Fenwick Lighthouse in ‘Night Settles Over Fenwick’


This Friday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m., artist Ellen Rice will release her third depiction of Fenwick Island Lighthouse, “Night Settles Over Fenwick.”

Coastal Point • Submitted: ‘Night Settles Over Fenwick,’ 14" x 18" oil on canvas, Ellen Rice’s featured release to premier Friday, Nov. 29, at her gallery for the opening of the 19th Southeastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour.Coastal Point • Submitted: ‘Night Settles Over Fenwick,’ 14" x 18" oil on canvas, Ellen Rice’s featured release to premier Friday, Nov. 29, at her gallery for the opening of the 19th Southeastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour.The debut of her newest oil painting and the release of a limited edition of fine giclée reproductions will take place at her gallery at the kickoff of her part of the 19th Annual SouthEastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST).

As her way of saying thank you each year during her annual Thanksgiving-weekend studio tour open house, Rice offers a “Thanksgiving thank-you” gift to tourgoers and longtime customers. This year, it is $40 off the $235 standard price of the signed and numberd giclées. There will also be a very small number of giclée proofs available, on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Fenwick Light keeps drawing me back,” Rice said. “In ‘Night Settles Over Fenwick,’ I wanted to paint it in a way I’ve never seen it portrayed — from the east, with the setting sun coloring the clouds behind it as night descends and the 154-year-old lighthouse begins sending out her warning beam.

“There’s a timelessness to it, painted this way. It could be now, with the hustle and bustle of everything modern-day Fenwick has to offer just beyond the edges of the painting, or it could be the 1800s, when the lighthouse first shined her beacon.”

Rice’s first depiction of Fenwick Island Lighthouse was a pen-and-ink illustration she was asked to do for the cover of the Peninsula Pacemaker magazine in 1991. She sketched it with her back against one of the trailers owned by the descendants of the keepers of the lighthouse.

“I couldn’t get very far away from it and still see the detail,” she recalled, “so what you see is an interesting forced perspective.”

She revisited the lighthouse in a whole new way in 2002, when the great-granddaughter of the first lighthouse keeper came to her with a special request: to bring to life a badly faded postcard of it, as seen from the water at the turn of the last century. Her resulting 40-inch-wide pastel painting, “Fenwick Island Light — 1859” was her premiere painting for the eighth annual SEDAST.

“Fenwick Light — 1859” was painted in pastels as the lighthouse-keeper’s great-granddaughter regaled her with stories of picking blueberries and sliding down dunes next to a lighthouse and farmland that was closer to the ocean than it is now. Contrary to what many think when they see the painting, Rice noted, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse has never been moved. What has moved is the coast of the shifting barrier island.

Rice sold the pastel during that year’s tour, but for this year’s tour she will bring out the original 20-by-30-inch Pacemaker cover pen-and-ink to display alongside her premiering oil painting.

Other paintings debuting include a large oil of the shore in Bethany and several mini-oils from Rice’s “50 Paintings” series. Also showing will be numerous paintings in various stages of progress that Rice will use to talk about her techniques, and her latest completed Children by the Sea portraits.

“We’ve decked the halls, selected the music, prepared the refreshments, and I’ve done the best I can to bring smiles and feelings of peace and joy from my art. I hope people enjoy.”

For those not able to attend this year’s tour, Rice is extending her $40 off until the end of the following weekend, Dec. 8 and 9, and prints can be ordered at the reduced price during that time by phone at (302) 539-3405. After the tour, they will also be available on Rice’s website, at www.ellenrice.com.