The Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse in Pompano Beach, Florida was built after four centuries of wrecks on beautiful but dangerous area reefs. Pompano Beach is often called the “Wreck Capital” of Florida because of the numerous shipwrecks in Hillsboro Inlet.
The Hillsboro Lighthouse has a black and white day mark. The top of the lighthouse is painted black to make it visible above the trees. The bottom white half contrasts against the trees. The lighthouse, also called "Big Diamond" is unique. With a beam of 28 nautical miles, it has the strongest light beam of all US lighthouses.
Built in 1907, Hillsboro Lighthouse has an idyllic setting. Swaying palms trees and calming azure water, belies its noble purpose. It was constructed to warn mariners of unseen hazards. My painting, “Perils in Paradox” showcases this paradox as the title indicates. The forceful depiction of black and white day mark of the lighthouse is softened by the peaceful and tropical setting.
The turning points in lives are not the great moments. The real crises are often concealed occurrences so trivial in appearance they pass unobserved. George Washington
Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine Portland Head Lighthouse is one of the “Most Photographed Lighthouses.” Built in 1791, Portland Lighthouse was the first lighthouse completed under President George Washington. His Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, personally administered lighthouses. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a native of Portland Maine, visited Portland Head Lighthouse several times.
People from all over the world visit Gay Head lighthouse. The popularity of the gaily, colorful cliffs and iconic lighthouse is nothing new. Charles Vanderhoop assistant light keeper, according to a newspaper article, retired on disability in 1933 due to "visitor-itis!"
A century later in 1975, the popular lighthouse caught the eyes of Hollywood and Steven Spielberg. There's a shot of Gay Head Lighthouse in the Academy Award thriller, "Jaws.” When it was being relocated, the lighthouse was in the spotlight again in 2015. I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard during this time.
My painting depicts the lighthouse as it was being moved against the backdrop of the cliffs. A splash of the ocean is shown in the background.
Despite all the fanfare, the Gay Head Lighthouse was built in 1799 to warn mariners about the treacherous, submerged obstructions called “Devil’s Bridge.”
Tourists probably weren’t a concern during the service of Gay Head's assistant female light keeper, Lydia Adams. There were no roads for easy access to the lighthouse during her term, 1869-71.
A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef. Navjot Singh Sidhu
The Cape St. George Lighthouse was rebuilt in 2008 with the support of the local community, state and federal governments. It was constructed from the remains of the second lighthouse in 1852.
Before it was rescued the lighthouse collapsed in 2005. Storms and neglect led to its demise. However, the lighthouse was already in trouble before this happened. The foundation was weakened by shifting sands and hurricanes. A makeshift foundation done in good faith only delayed its collapse. The community never gave up on the lighthouse.
The bright yellow in the painting color symbolizes happiness and caution. It celebrates the rebuilding of the lighthouse while noting peril could only be a storm away.
After visiting Tybee Island Lighthouse, I drove along the scenic Georgia coast called the “Golden Isles” to St. Simons Lighthouse.
A little tired after a long day, I welcomed the chance to sit down and draw the lighthouse. As the sun was setting, a blaze of light bounced off the lighthouse. It seemed to refresh the lighthouse and me. For now the lighthouse was receiving light instead of giving it.
The Lighthouse Service has a great record on the treatment of women. But it falls short on its treatment of non whites. Slaves and free men of color served on a limited basis during the 1800s. Perhaps the first lighthouse staff member killed in war was African American Aaron Carter. He perished after the Seminoles attacked Cape Florida Lighthouse near Miami in 1836. He is recorded as being a free man of color. The same year, an elderly African American woman assisted in the keeping of St. Simons Lighthouse.
The St. Simons Lighthouse is located on St. Simons Island 30 miles from Brunswick, Georgia. The lighthouse is owned by the Georgia Coastal Historical Society. The St. Simons Museum includes the lighthouse and Keeper’s dwelling. Visitors may climb the lighthouse and visit the Keeper’s dwelling.
Blue Skies and Sunny Days
I journeyed to Amelia Island Lighthouse on a bright sunny day with crystal blue skies. I was thrilled about painting my first lighthouse. My excitement momentarily turned to frustration as we drove in circles unable to find the lighthouse. It seemed like there was a decision to make the lighthouse inaccessible and hidden.
There were no directional signs.
Surely this caper was a ploy by the US Coast Guard and the upscale neighborhood to keep visitors at a minimum. The GPS was in cahoots with their plan and proved useless in the search. Still the paper map indicated the lighthouse was nearby.
Finally, after noticing a narrow unmarked road, my sister and I discovered the beautiful lighthouse at the road’s end.
The lighthouse in this painting, “Blue Skies and Sunny Days,” is camouflaged because there were no directional signs for getting there. The depiction also alludes to the Coast Guard's conflicting efforts to protect and mask lighthouses in secrecy. This contradicts the true purpose of a lighthouse. Its sole purpose is to be seen.
While touring Europe, I stayed a few days in London. I went to the Tate Museum to see paintings of London’s greatest artist, JMW Turner. The next I had traveled to Trinity Buoy Wharf to sketch London's only Lighthouse. While there I also discovered Lightship 95. I was spellbound by its presence. It seemed pregnant with stories of its past.
Back in the United States, I looked at my yellow foreground and became inspired when I read how much Turner used yellow. According to the book "How to Paint like Turner", "Some of Turner's most daring and experimental innovations centered around his use of yellow. It seems to have been his favorite color and he used it liberally. " "For more than thirty years his use of yellow became one of the most frequently mentioned aspects of his art, with critics variously accusing him of 'yellow fever'...
With Turner as my inspiration, I threw a hue of colors on the paper. When I finished I was delighted when the lighthouses seem to magically emerge.
Tybee Island was the first lighthouse I painted in Georgia. I was spellbound as I approached the lighthouse and anxious to climb it. The lighthouse was crowded the day I visited so it took awhile to get into the tower. But it was well worth the wait. I quietly gazed into the distance. The ocean was calm and the shore was vacant. Not a soul in sight unlike the busy lighthouse.
After the climb, I walked the grounds trying to find the right vantage point for a sketch and painting. Lighthouses are such massive and overbearing structures it is sometimes challenging capturing their essence. As I walked a distance away from the from Georgia’s tallest lighthouse, a picket fence seemed to evoke a peaceful mood.
Inspired by the Greek Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the beautiful Portland Breakwater Lighthouse in Maine was built in 1874. The architect of Portland Breakwater Lighthouse also designed the dome of the US Capitol.
The original Greek Choragic Monument was built near the Acropolis of Athens. This
was the first time Corinthians columns were constructed on the exterior of a building.
My painting of the lighthouse captures the elegance and strength of the Corinthian columns surrounding the lighthouse. The cupola that crowns the lighthouse is painted as a diadem to symbolize its majesty.
The lighthouse and a breakwater were built after an 1831 storm damaged ships, piers and buildings in Portland’s harbor. The breakwater was first constructed and turned out to be a navigational hazard. Finally in 1855 the first lighthouse was constructed. In 1874 the current lighthouse replaced the wooden lighthouse.
Like nurturing mothers, a fleet of lighthouse tenders saw to the needs of lighthouses.
The U.S. Lighthouse Service used such vessels to carry fuel, food and other essential supplies to lighthouses, lightships, their keepers and crews. They also maintained the buoys and range lights that guided ships and boats into harbors and away from rocks and reefs.
Interestingly, these brave vessels are all named after flowers and trees like the LILAC Lighthouse Tender at Hudson River Park in Manhattan.
The LILAC Lighthouse Tender continues to serve the New York community. Last year, the LILAC offered free admission to nearly 6,000 visitors. This Includes 900 kids visiting on board with The River Project.
The LILAC is the last surviving steam-propelled lighthouse tender in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lilac is located at Pier 25 at Hudson River Park.