Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lighthouses in winter

The wind has pretty much blown itself out, taking with it a lot of the leaves and twigs and branches.  All this reminds us that our fall season will soon give way to winter, and we all know what that brings. Well, a couple things actually, snow, and Christmas.  Songs like "White Christmas" and even old carols like "Good King Wenceslas"  tie snow to Christmas.  All this sort of explains why Christmas cards usually feature snowy scenes.

Painting snow; let me re-phrase that, depicting snow with paint, is really painting the way light behaves when it reflects off snow, a variety of subtle colours and shadows.  A couple of my lighthouse paintings are snowy scenes, and in note card form would be a real Maritime way to extend the best of the season to friends this coming Christmas.

The "West Quoddy Winter" card illustrates a feature of northern lighthouses that not many people may have thought about.  Red markings were used on these white lighthouses to help mariners see them more clearly against a backdrop of winter snow.  This lighthouse, at West Quoddy Head, near Lubec, Maine, is the easternmost point of the United States.  The first lighthouse was built here in 1808, with the present brick tower being built in 1858.

The other winter lighthouse scene is "Swallowtail Snow".  Swallowtail Light at the northern end of Grand Manan Island, stands tall at the outer end of a promontory.  All by itself high up on the end of a rocky point, with no backdrop of snow in the winter, it does not have the same need for bold red markings that are to be found in the red stripes of West Quoddy or the bold red cross on Head Harbour Light.

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