The Quiet Before the Storm

Perched high on a cliff, East Chop Lighthouse is located in a quiet residential area. Surrounded by a grassy area with a picket fence and benches, the idyllic setting belies its noble purpose. The perils offshore inspired a mariner to raise money to privately build the lighthous in 1869.


Preservation 50 Friday: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Gay Head Lighthouse

Gay Head Lighthouse copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

I thought about the adage, ” A picture is worth a thousand words,” as I began trying to figure out how to paint the Gay Head Lighthouse. The stunning colors of the cliffs were amazing backdrops for the lighthouse.

The two were intertwined. As the cliffs eroded they created additional hazards for mariners sailing through the rocky coast. Thus, part of the rationale for the building of the lighthouse was to warn mariners of these hazards.

Then, I learned that the Gay Head Lighthouse was just moved to avoid dropping off the cliffs due to erosion.

It was now in its final resting place–for at least another 160 years! Yet, a banner and reinforcements were still in place— a daunting reminder of what had just happened.

Finally, I got inspiration and began painting. I call my lighthouse paintings portraits. Each tells a unique story. What a story to tell. In the painting, the lighthouse is in two sections to signify movement.

For more on my lighthouse paintings, visit

Preservation 50 Friday: Saving Gay Head Lighthouse

Gayhead Lighthouse

Gay Head Lighthouse sits with moving banner and reinforcements around its base.

The successful moving of the Gay Head Lighthouse highlights the impact concerned citizens can have on preserving Lighthouses and other precious landmarks.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

Millions of dollars were donated to save the lighthouse (that saves lives) from falling off Gay Head Cliffs.

Free Admission During National Park Week

Gay Head Lighthouse.

Gay Head Lighthouse. The Gay Head Cliffs are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Catch the excitement with free admission during National Park Week through April 24. Enjoy a host of festivities throughout the week. Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 with activities and projects. Grab your cameras for Instameet on April 23. Get fit at Park Rx Day on April 24.

For more information or to locate a National Park, visi

There’s a little “Gauguin” in all of us

Painting by Gauguin

The tranquility in of this painting ” The Day of the god” (Mahaba no Atua) at the Art Institute of Chicago by Gauguin masks the inner turmoil facing the artist.

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Be SMART in the New Year


West Chop Lighthouse

West Chop Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

Next year I want to paint SMART. I’ve got a long list of lighthouses to paint.

There are about 450 lighthouses in the United States and I’ve painted 15 of them since March. Many are inaccessible or located in remote locations which makes it challenging but not impossible. I was fortunate to visit four lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard in one day without a car. It took planning and perseverance. Lots of things went wrong.

Edgartown Lighthouse

Edgartown Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

I want to paint all the remaining lighthouses on Florida’s west coast. But what’s my plan?

Well, I saw this article on “The Resolution Revolution” by Gary Scheiner of Integrated Diabetes Services. He said the key to being successful with New Year’s Resolutions is being SMART. I’m not into resolutions but I do like having a plan of attack for goals.

In the SMART system goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Limited.

Gay Head Lighthouse.

Gay Head Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

He was talking about diabetes but I think the SMART plan can be applied to any situation.

It works this way:
I want to eat better/ I will limit my nighttime snacks/I will have one snack each night/ I will have only one snack on weeknights/which will help me control my nighttime blood sugar and sleep better/for the entire month of January.

East Chop Lighthouse.

East Chop Lighthouse at Martha’s Vineyard.

Finally, he says consider what will motivate you and ease the path toward goal achievement, and consider obstacles that might get in the way.

Don’t Break The Family Bank During Christmas

Marker at Gay Head Cliffs

Marker for Gay Head Cliffs, a Registered National Landmark.

Planning activities for the kids’ Christmas break with no ideas what do to? Getting Christmas gifts but low on cash for R&R for the kids? Why not visit a National Park?

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

With more than 400 national parks and thousands of historic and recreational lands there are endless ways to find your unique connection and save money during the holidays. The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are inviting people to Find Your Park.

The idea is to connect with a park and share your story by using #findyourpark. Kids can even take a Flat Stanley along for a photo op and share their story. Flat Stanley is a literacy project that encourages kids to write about their travels. To learn more about the Flat Stanley project visit

For more information or to locate a National Park visit