Birth of a Lighthouse Painting

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The Beginning

IN 2005 I was working in my business as a graphic designer.  Every now and then a job came along that made it worthwhile slogging behind the screen of a computer for endless hours. I was asked to do the design and layout of a book on the history of the Lighthouse keepers who cared for and maintained the lighthouse on the Barranjoey Headland at Palm Beach, NSW, Australia. The person who asked me to do this was Jervis Sparks, the last caretaker of the lighthouse from 1968 to 1999. That was a fascinating journey that not only intrigue me in it’s history but also resonated with me for some reason as an artist. And the word that resonates is ‘solitude’.  Lets face it the epitome of a lighthouse is solitude and for me working as an artist has that same sense of solitude as well.

barrenjoey lighthouse
barrenjoey 1912


The images of Barrenjoey lighthouse in the 1890’s that Jervise had in his collection captivated me. Lighthouses have for me a sad strange sentimental romance about them. The feeling of a lost love, the heartache and the storm ahead, the longing heart etc etc, I could go on and on. But that light this incredible structure shines gives hope and strength, that can guide us away from tragedy.  You can start to get an idea or how my mind started to see this old photo and what my imagination was creating before I evan started to paint it.

A Lighthouse painting is born.

And so begins the journey, for me as an artist, to get this feeling out or expressed on canvas. Does it succeed? Only the viewer can say and that is solely based on their point of view and what they are experiencing when they look at any piece of art.

Hopefully this will give an insight to how and why I came about to wanting to put this image on canvas. I had to….



My initial sketch was done directly onto the canvas with pencil from an old image from 1912 of the lighthouse just after it was built. The underpainting was done in acrylic. I added the solitary figure of the lighthouse keepers wife having just arrived and the feeling of totally being alone and isolated,  with the ship, (companionship) sailing of in the distance.

solitude-detail-barrenjoey lighthouse
solitude-barrenjoey detail


The storm clouds of emotion in the distance signalling what is to come and the gate to her heart removed and open. Yet this lighthouse represented the incredible strength and light of hope for the storms ahead. Romantic I know, but that is what for me art is all about, capturing a moment and feeling that can resonate with the viewer…. and me. My appreciation goes to Jervice Sparks, the last lighthouse keeper, even though he wont admit it, and his amazing expertise and knowledge about this beautiful building at Palm Beach Sydney Australia. His book is called “The Red Light of Palm Beach”


“Solitude”. oil on canvas 180cm x 110cm. Limited addition Prints are available. Contact me for more information.

solitude finished painting


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Realist Artist living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Australia.

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