In Yarmouth, the old brick Sparhawk Mill is a major landmark. Situated just below a dam over the Royal River, it was built in 1847, replacing a wooden mill that had stood there since 1817. In its heyday, the Royal River Manufacturing Co. produced cotton grain bags there, and in its last incarnation the mill produced braided twine for lobster traps and yachting cord. In 1991, it was converted to office space. IMAGES COURTESY DAVID PEARCE

At Home abroad: Longtime diplomat’s foreign journey captured in watercolors

BLUE HILL — During David Pearce’s diplomatic career, he was posted in different capacities to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South Asia. Watercolor is the thread binding together chapters in the retired ambassador’s life and journeys abroad in a month-long show opening Tuesday, May 31, and running through Thursday, June 30, at the Blue Hill Public Library.

David Pearce

Originally from Falmouth, Pearce attended Bowdoin College before earning a graduate journalism degree from Ohio State University. During his journalistic career of nearly a decade, Pearce worked in Lebanon, where he served as United Press International’s bureau chief and chief Middle East correspondent in Beirut. As a wire service reporter, he covered the revolution in Lisbon, civil war in Beirut and political and economic change in the Arab world.

Eventually joining the U.S. Foreign Service, he was stationed in Greece, Israel, Afghanistan and Algeria. Watercolors depicting the nations’ different countryside and cityscapes in Athens, Jerusalem, Kabul and Algiers are among the 30 paintings on view in “At Home Abroad” in the library’s Britton Gallery and Roland Howard Room.

During his diplomatic career, He served as ambassador to Algeria and Greece, and U.S. consul general in Jerusalem.

“There are no do-overs in watercolor, just as there are no do-overs in diplomacy,” the Blue Hill artist likes to say. His work leans to the abstract, “less a literal rendition than an effort to convey my feelings and responses to a particular place at a particular time.”

While stationed in Beirut, Pearce met his wife of 44 years, Leyla Baroody Pearce. Both of the couple’s children were born in Lebanon.

After his diplomatic service spanning 35 years, the Pearces made their way back to Maine in 2016. Since then, the Yarmouth artists has devoted his attention to a third career working full time as an artist.

Pearce prefers to work in watercolor because he likes the medium’s degree of difficulty and the constant challenge of turning sudden developments into unexpected opportunities. He also enjoys writing and telling the stories behind his paintings in a monthly blog/newsletter on the D D Pearce Fine Art website at

Pearce’s work may be found in private collections in Europe, the Middle East, Canada and the United States. In Maine, the artist’s watercolors have been exhibited at the Thomas Moser showroom and gallery in Freeport.

Pearce will speak about his watercolors and give a tour of his paintings from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 11. A limited number of signed prints will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds from all sales will benefit the library.

For more information, call the library at 374-5515.


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