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.
When I am not traveling to or painting lighthouses, I am writing or researching lighthouses.