Wonder is involuntary praise. Edward Young
Fanad Lighthouse epitomizes all the beauty and grandeur of the Emerald Isle. Surrounded by spectacular mountains, the awe inspiring lighthouse rises in majestic splendor. No wonder it is considered one the world’s most beautiful lighthouses.
The emblem was also first exhibited on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 181. A helipad was added in 1921 for emergency services for Tory Island and Inishtrahull.
In 2012, the Commissioner of Irish Lights approached the community for their input on the idea of refurbishing the Fanad Lighthouse and opening it for tourism. The community group established Forbairt Fhanada Teoranta to oversee Fanad Lighthouse. They manage lodging, guided tours and the Visitors Center.
Fanad Lighthouse is one of 12 the Great Lighthouses of Ireland. Designated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the 12 Lighthouses feature breathtaking coasts and superb accommodations.
I waited four years for an opportunity to visit the Staten Island Lighthouse. It was closed to visitors and hidden behind trees.
I finally was granted a visit the lighthouse last October. I was exhibiting lighthouse paintings at the National Lighthouse Museum, when the Curator, Tina Curado, extended an invitation. The National Lighthouse Museum had recently become a steward of the lighthouse.
The beautiful, pyramidal 1912 lighthouse lived up to my expectations. The statuesque brick lighthouse stood solemnly upon cascading stairs like a Mayan temple. The plush green foliage surrounding it seemed to bow in submission.
Standing in awe, I anxiously entered the lighthouse. After climbing the 90 feet lighthouse, I paused and gazed at a picturesque scene of Lighthouse Hill and Staten Island. An overcast sky framed the trees and houses.
Before leaving the lighthouse, I happily drew a few quick sketches.
I journeyed to Amelia Island Lighthouse on a bright sunny day with clear 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 useless and was in cahoots with the Coast Guard’s plan. 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.
The area around Gay Head has been home to Wampanoag tribe for thousands of years. The word Wampanoag has often been translated to mean “People of the Dawn.”
Three thousand Wampanoag lived on Martha’s Vineyard in the 17th century. In 1620, the Wampanoag taught the pilgrims how to grow food, catch and process fish. They helped the Pilgrims survive their first winters.
By the 18th the tribe largely disappeared to disease and enslavement. Many local residents of Gay Head are members of this tribe.
Charles Vanderhoop, a member of the Wampanoag tribe, served as assistant light keeper at Gay Head from 1913-1919. In 1919 Vanderhoop possibly became the first Native American Head Light Keeper while serving at Sankaty Lighthouse. He returned in 1920 as the Head Light Keeper of Gay Head.
I painted the Cape Florida Lighthouse after a week of rain. I drove to Key Biscayne to see the lighthouse in sunny Florida. Standing behind a canopy of palm trees, the beautiful lighthouse towered against a clear blue sky. The lighthouse was surrounded by mangroves and not condos, thanks to the park's namesake, Bill Baggs. The Bill Baggs State Park was opened in 1967 foiling efforts by developers.
Cape Florida Lighthouse has witnessed many struggles, hardships, and endured a fire. It has withstood more than 4 dozen hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew. Its existence predates the founding of Miami. During the Second Seminole Wars in 1836, the lighthouse was destroyed. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1846-47.
The lighthouse art of Cape Florida Lighthouse displays the stunning lighthouse surrounded by a canopy of palm trees. I painted the towering lighthouse against a clear blue sky after a week of rain.
My mother orchestrated Thanksgiving in our home. From the food to the table settings. This was her day to show off her culinary expertise. Over the years our traditions changed as we traveled to visit my siblings for Thanksgiving. Still my fondest memories of Thanksgiving are of her dinner table.
Like nurturing mothers, a fleet of lighthouse tenders saw to the needs of lighthouses. The U.S. Lighthouse Service used lighthouse tenders to carry fuel, food and other essential supplies to lighthouses, lightships, their keepers and crews.
My beautiful and colorful lighthouse art of the Lilac Lighthouse Tender captures the dynamic and heroic Coast Guard Cutter. The intense colors of red and blue hint at the patriotic mission of the Lilac..
Alluding to their life giving nature, lighthouse tenders are all named after flowers and trees.
After visiting Tybee Island Lighthouse two hours away, I was excited about finishing the day with one final Georgia lighthouse. I drove along the scenic Georgia coast called the “Golden Isles” to St. Simons Lighthouse.
Although the lighthouse was closed, I was delighted to be able to walk the grounds. Stopping on the walkway near the ocean I gazed into the distance. I walked around the lighthouse trying to decide on the best vantage point for my painting.
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.
J. Candace Clifford used her expertise to help advance the cause of lighthouses and women during life. She co-authored the book, "Women Who Kept the Light" which sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. Candace served as a maritime historian for the National Park Service and the United States Lighthouse Society.
I met J. Candace Clifford at the reopening of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in Florida. She took photos of the event and did a television interview. I was sketching when our paths crossed. Candace paused to photograph me. We exchanged business cards and talked briefly.
After the publication of the article she encouraged me to write, I was contacted about an art exhibit. I was contacted about an art exhibit. My exhibit “Shattering the Lens” at the National Lighthouse Museum in New York paid homage to Candace Clifford and female light keepers.
The pandemic has transformed everything including family. Last year, I found solace in how Millennial parents were able to spend more time with their children because schools were shut down and parents were working remotely. Parents slowed down and took road trips because air travel was a risk. Somehow the world seemed better for families in the early days of the pandemic.
The US Lighthouse Board understood the value of family. Wives, daughters and sons sometimes fulfilled the duties of a light keeper without pay. Wives and daughters filled in when the light keeper was absent or died.
New Dorp Lighthouse was a family station located two miles from the shore. It was part of a system of three sets of lights to mark the Lower New York Bay. Female keepers Annie C Langston 1901-1902, Mary Coons 1908 served officially. Their husbands preceded them as light keepers.
When I am not traveling to or painting lighthouses, I am writing or researching lighthouses.