August 7 is National Lighthouse Day. Let me tell you my one lighthouse story.
Several years ago, my friend, Rick, got obsessed about the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. Rick is an extremely talented illustrator and thought it would be fun to draw an accurate picture of the structure and annotate it with some history.
Rick visited the lighthouse, measured the lighthouse, interviewed lighthouse historians, and went to the Library of Congress to track down the original blueprints.
Rick prefers to work in Adobe Illustrator, a digital application with sophisticated tools to control colors, line weights, and layers. Driven by a deep respect for the people who designed, built and maintained Marblehead, Rick drew every detail—every brick, every step on the spiral staircase, every facet of the Fresnel lens.
Since Rick had a day job that required his attention, he had to make progress during evenings, weekends, or holidays. Because he had no client or deadline, he was free to make unlimited refinements. And he did. Rick’s drawing of the Marblehead lighthouse ended up taking several years longer than the construction of the original lighthouse. The result is beautiful.
There are still a few prints available. They are 15" X 34-5/8" with the image printed on heavy archival paper measuring 18" X 38". You can get one directly from Rick, if you do Paypal. It’s just $30 including shipping to your door. Interested? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to know more? Here is the background story that Rick shares with collectors.
Marblehead Lighthouse was first lit June 22, 1822, becoming the fourth such guardian on the Great Lakes. Shipping was a crucial link between the small towns on Lake Erie, and when the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, an all-water route was created connecting the Great Lakes to New York City and the Atlantic. Immigrants from Europe used this route and were guided by Marblehead’s light on their push west; the population of Chicago alone grew from 350 in 1833 to almost 30,000 by 1850.
Marblehead was a beacon to increasing ship traffic. Raw materials from the opening frontier—fur, lumber, coal, stone, grain, and copper—were shipped to large manufacturing and population centers in the East, who in turn, shipped their finished goods back west to an expanding market.
After vast iron ore deposits were discovered in Minnesota in 1865, locks at Sault Ste. Marie were built allowing ships to bring iron ore from Superior to the lower lakes. Marblehead Lighthouse stood as a safeguard as an ever growing armada of ships sailed past. The ore the ships carried was transformed into steel in the crucibles of Cleveland, Buffalo, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh. This was the steel that built America’s railroads, bridged the rivers of a continent, and forever changed the skylines of our cities.
15" X 34-5/8" image printed on heavy archival paper measuring 18" X 38". Suitable for framing and for display in your home or professional office.
I’m fascinated with America’s industrial past, with big machines and buildings that changed the way people lived. Artists of the day illustrated those machines and buildings with incredible skill, showing every detail, creating depth and texture through light and shadow. Marblehead Lighthouse, 1903 is my homage not only to those artists, but to a time of innovation that changed the world and created the foundation for the lives we lead today.
This artwork represents a personal journey that included many challenges: from learning basic research skills to gaining greater design awareness; the greatest growth came in my abilities as an artist and an illustrator.
My goal was to tell the story of the lighthouse in a new way, to make the story not only clear, but beautiful as well.
Source for the artwork included architectural drawings, the original construction contract, and other U.S. Lighthouse Establishment documents. Historic photos, navigation records, the keepers journal, and even antique postcards provided additional clues. These sources were supplemented by many trips to the lighthouse to take field notes, measurements, and photos of every detail
Pittsburgh, July 26, 2017