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Caroline Henry Art Blog

Point Reyes Lighthouse

by Caroline , February 3, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: color, composition, making art, mood, pencil drawing, sea scape, technique

The rooftop of the lighthouse keeper's residence and the top of the lighthouse stand out in red watercolor in this graphite drawing of the old lighthouse at Point Reyes. This drawing was a long time from start to finish. A number of years ago, I lightly penciled in the lighthouse as seen from a turning in the 200 or so steps leading down to it from the cliffs above. .

The lighthouse sits low, and it is a squat structure. It was actually built to send a warning signal out from below the layer of fog that so often lingers at about cliff level in the Point Reyes area, a peninsula just north of San Francisco. Inside, of course, was that wonder of beauty and engineering, a Fresnel lens, which brilliantly magnified the light of a simple oil lamp to warn the ship at sea of the dangerous rocks below.

A few days ago, I pulled this out of a drawer, lightly sketched and with a pale and tentative touch of red on the rooftop above the light. What to do with it--complete it as a water color painting or emphasize the pencil. My decision was to stick with the pencil except of on the rooftops and a suggestion of blue where the fog and sea were inseparable to the eye. I set to work darkening and defining some areas, lifting some back out on the lighthouse window with my eraser to hint at a view of the light within, using the side of the pencil to create grey areas of fog. I smudged the fog with tissue and finger. The greys preserve the feeling of fog and atmospheric gloom on the day while the touch of color and the walls left largely white, represent not only the bright view of the structure in the gloom, but the essential quality of lighthouses. Here is found a light and guide in dangerous waters.



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