The Pursuit of Happiness is Written in Our DNA 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal by their Creator, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Amelia Island Lighthouse

I traveled less than 2 hours to paint my first lighthouse.


Lofty words from the US Constitution. I read somewhere that the “Pursuit of Happiness” is written in Americans’ DNA—we are wired never to be content. To always be grasping for something more, is this the American Dream? Or perhaps it is the foundation of our capitalist society. Or maybe it is what propels that American spirit within us to achieve the greater good. 

Trinity Lightship in London.

I journeyed to London to paint this lightship.


I thought of this recently as I prepared for my Retrospective Exhibit called the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Sometimes times we are like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz looking for happiness in distant places. But often our happiness is found within arms reach or by the click of two heels. I’ve traveled the world pursuing happiness only to find it eluding me. Now, however I’ve discovered that for me happiness is simplicity. It is a life devoid of the distractions of consumerism and just simply pursuing God, serving others and quietly dipping my brush in paint. 

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A Marvel of Human Ingenuity 

West Rathlin Lighthouse.

West Rathlin Lighthouse was built with beacon below the tower.


The upside down lighthouse on Rathlin Island in Ireland is a marvel of human ingenuity. Unlike most lighthouses, the Keepers at West Rathlin Lighthouse had to climb down to the light. The Commissioners of Irish Lights Engineer-in-Chief CW Scott came up with this novel idea. Because the top cliff was often obscured by fog and low clouds, a traditional lighthouse would not do. 

Built in 1912 on a somewhat vertical cliff, the upside down lighthouse was a huge undertaking. It took almost 4 years to complete. The enormous amount concrete used had to be mixed by hand. An inclined railway was built for transporting materials. 

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Weird Perceptions of Artists 


I know people have weird perceptions of artists. I never thought I’d feel like a race horse!I had 5 minutes to draw this lighthouse. It was an unscheduled stop during a tour of Ireland lighthouses. The other passengers cheered me on with “Go Elaine, go!” as I was finished the drawing. 

Golden Memories for the holidays

Flagler Memorial Church in St. Augustine, Florida

My painting “Golden Memories. “

Recognized as one of the 20 most beautiful churches in America, Flagler Memorial Church lives up to its reputation. Located in St. Augustine, Florida the church was built by Standard Oil magnate Henry Flagler. It was constructed in 1889 in honor of Flagler’s daughter who died in childbirth. The Tiffany-style stained glass adorns this magnificent edifice. 

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TGIF: You won’t need a pot of gold when visiting Ireland

I am not sure what I like best about Ireland; the kind people, good food, spectacular sights or low prices. The accommodations and restaurants are extremely affordable or down right cheap. I really can’t say enough good things about Ireland. Whether exploring the Wild Atlantic Way, or visiting castles, you’ll find much to explore in Ireland. You can climb the highest peak in Europe at Slieve Leage. Splash in Ireland’s pristine turquoise waters. Along the way, you’ll witness seals and puffins on the scenic shores. You can also enjoy an expedition to a upside down lighthouse and escape to a quiet island. 

Evocative cliffs encapsulate this fairly land island.Tory Island has the distinction of having a resident, King. Besides greeting visitors, I’m not sure what his official duties are. The King of Tory rules over a small and quaint island kingdom. Tory Island lighthouse, a monk’s tower recall local history. There’s a hostel and hotel, grocery store, some shops and a post office within walking distance. Tory Island offers a quiet retreat and a taste of the past.

 
Rathlin Island is a popular destination. You can scale an upside down lighthouse. Catch a bus to the lighthouse and enjoy nature. West Light builders ingeniously came up with a way to avoid clouds that could obscure the light. Watch puffins, skylarks and other birds at the West Light Seabird Center. It’s largest seabird colony in the United Kingdom. Over 250,00 seabirds return to breed on Rathlin Island each year. 

Stop by Dublin and don’t miss Trinity College. It is the oldest university in Ireland. Its stunning architecture transports you to another era and dimension. Venture to the Long Room, one of Europe’s most impressive libraries. Beautiful marble busts adorn the aisles of the library. Star Wars used the library for inspiration. Walk through the pages of history and see the Book of Kells. It is a medieval manuscript of the four Gospels that is considered to be Ireland’s finest treasure. 

Whether you’re a history buff, beach goer, nature lover or lighthouse enthusiastic, Ireland offers a lot for your money as well as fun for everyone.

TGIF: The stars make no noise at Ireland’s Blackhead Lighthouse

Sunset at Blackhead

Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse in Ireland.

Hailed as one of the great lighthouses in Ireland, Blackhead Lighthouse is perched high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Belfast Lough.

I stayed at Blackhead Lighthouse during John Eagle’s Northern Ireland Lighthouse tour. Sitting on the porch one moonlit night, my hearted pulsed with the beam of the lighthouse as it swirled quietly in the darkness.

Warning off perils ahead and nearby, Blackhead Lighthouse faithfully stands guard. While the lighthouse has saved countless lives, it stood watch as the Titanic tragically passed by on its final journey.

My stay at Blackhead Lighthouse was the highlight of the tour. As I stepped into my bedroom, I was delighted to see a self portrait of one of my favorite artists,  Albrecht Durer, hanging on the wall. My room had a fire place and a magnificent view of the ocean.

Almost every room at Blackhead had a fire place including the restroom. Today we consider a fireplace in every room a luxury but in times past it was a necessity as it was the only source of heat.

Sunset at Blackhead

Sunrise at Blackhead Lighthouse.

We stayed at Blackhead three days and two nights. I made the most of my stay. I witnessed a blazing sunrise, glorious sunset and quiet moonlight while sitting on the porch of Blackhead Lighthouse.

Yes, the stars make no noise as the Irish quote goes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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TGIF: A Perfect Setting for “The Crown”

Queen of peace

“Queen of Peace” the perfect name for a craft at the serene Island of Tory.

Tory Island’s cliffs, mountains and shoreline are like an instant replay of the award-winning drama, The Crown. In the beach episode in Scotland, the Queen Mother escapes to a quiet shoreline to gather her wits. She got some peace of mind and a bargain on a castle. You’ll find bargains and a royal retreat at Tory Island.

Tory Island, Ireland has the distinction of having a resident, King. Besides greeting visitors, I’m not sure what his official duties are. The King of Tory rules over a small and quaint island kingdom. Tory Island has a hostel and hotel, grocery store, some shops and a post office. We spent two enjoyable days on Tory Island during John Eagle’s lighthouse tour.

A sign for the ferry.

A sign for the ferry to Tory Island.

We caught the ferry to Tory Island and checked into the Tory Hotel. The lightkeeper welcomed us. After freshening up, we headed to the Tory Lighthouse. We walked around the lighthouse grounds and posed for group pictures.

Tory island lighthouse.

Tory Island Lighthouse.

Later while the group had dinner, I scouted the nearby sights. I wanted to see and draw a few buildings before sunset. I gave a sketch of a house to one of the locals I met. The people of Tory, like the rest of Ireland, are very friendly.

A sign in Irish dialect.

The past and the present converge at Tory Island.

They are also proud of their Irish heritage and speak an Irish dialect. Tory is home to a colony of prominent artists. The King of Tory is also an artist.

Street sunset

Sunset on the streets of Tory Island.

After sketching, I went with the group on a sunset tour of Tory Island. We saw a spectacular view of the mountains, cliffs and the ocean. It was a wonderful way to close the day.

Sunset view of a cliff.

The sun falls softly on a cliff at Tory Island.

From my hotel room, I had a glimpse of the Tory Lighthouse. Before turning in for the night, I paused for a while and watched the flashing Lighthouse beam against the dark sky.

In the morning, I arose early for a final walk through Tory Island. I was glad I did. I got a close up view of a historic Tower.

Tory Island offers cultural sights and breathtaking views in a peaceful setting. It is ideal for a retreat or a quiet getaway. You’ll get the royal treatment at Tory Island.

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