Five female light keepers may be a record

New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans.

New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans.


Record breaking hurricanes in New Orleans often make the national headlines. New Canal Lighthouse female keepers deserve the spotlight too. With five female keepers, New Canal may hold the record for the most female light keepers. Margaret Norvell faithfully served as a keeper for nearly 41 years.  

The lighthouse has been rebuilt several times and one was auctioned. The current New Canal Lighthouse is a replica that was built after severe damage from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005. The wood from the 1890 lighthouse is now a part of the current 2013 lighthouse.

Shattering the Lens exhibit Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island, New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. It is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Light” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

For more information, visit elainemarieartist.com.

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Casting out Fear

A cubist painting of the Crooked River Lighthouse.

This cubist painting of Crooked River Lighthouse is a style which the Nazis banned.

Completed in 1895, Crooked River Lighthouse is located near the site of Camp Jordan Training Center. Amphibious exercises were held at the camp during World War II. Recalling Hitler’s suppression of artists, I felt unparalleled freedom and vindication as I painted Crooked River Lighthouse. No longer afraid to try something new, I experimented with cubism a style Hitler banned and abhorred. Like the allies who freed the world from tyranny, we must cast out self imposed fears and inhibitions to be all that we were created to be. 

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“None-but a donkey would consider it ‘unfeminine’ to save lives.”—Ida Lewis

Painting of the Statue of Liberty

See my original painting of the “Stature of Liberty” and others at the National Lighthouse Museum.


With so much talk about the gender wage gap today, it’s hard to imagine that back in the 1800’s there wasn’t a wage gap for women lighthouse keepers.

In fact, at one time Ida Lewis was the highest paid lighthouse keeper. She even became the first woman to receive a gold Congressional Medal for lifesaving. Despite this, Lewis received the criticism that it was unladylike for women to row boats. Lewis replied, “None-but a donkey would consider it ‘unfeminine’ to save lives.”

“Shattering the Lens” exhibit Sept 24-October 20 at the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island New York sheds light on the dynamic impact of female lighthouse keepers. The exhibit is inspired by the book “Women Who Kept the Lights” by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford.

For more info, visit www.elainemarieartist.com 

Gasparilla Island Light restored to its former glory 

Built in 1881, Gasparilla Light is restored thanks to efforts by the local community, businesses, grants and the Barrier Island Parks Society. The non profit spearheaded the decades long task. The society received The Florida Trust Award for outstanding achievement. 

The lighthouse shines after receiving a replica of the original 4th order Fresnel lens and being recommissioning by the US Coast Guard. Visitors can now climb the lighthouse and celebrate the view and restoration. 

Words Do Have Power

Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Cape Florida Lighthouse is the closest lighthouse to Miami.

Words do have power. Now that I look back on this quote by a fellow artist, ” First the rats, then the roaches, then the artists…”I realize how it started me on my journey of painting lighthouses. My friend was lamenting the demise of neighborhoods due to the demolition of buildings. This thought planted a seed that came to fruition when I moved to Miami Beach years later. 

Miami Beach

Miami Beach is more than fun in the sun.


In Miami Beach, I discovered the Art Deco District and how it came into being because of the passion and foresight of one woman, Barbara Capitman, a New Yorker. She was the force behind the creation of the Miami Design Preservation League. This non profit organization is responsible for the Miami Art Deco District becoming the first 20th Century neighborhood to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. Through their hard work an entire neighborhood was saved from demolition. 

The Post Office in Miami Beach is an Art Deco building.

The Miami Beach Post Office is an Art Deco Building.


It was in Miami that I began painting landscape architecture, Art Deco buildings. Previously, I only painted portraits. My art and passion for history found a new voice. As I finished painting and exhibiting the Art Deco buildings, I began wondering what my next step would be. 

A painting of an Art Deco building.

The Molbar one of the Art Deco buildings I painted.


Thinking about my trips to the beach as a child and my love of history, lighthouses became my new subject matter. As I researched lighthouses, I learned how they were in dire need of preservation due to neglect. After years of faithful service, these guardians of sea were deemed excess property by the government and irrelevant in terms of navigation. I wanted to help change that perception through my paintings. Not only would I paint lighthouses, I would promote lighthouses for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. 
Brant Point Lighthouse.

Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket one of the newest paintings I’ve done.


So this is where I am now. First the rats, then the roaches, then the artists. 

Drawing a lighthouse

I’ve drawn and painted lighthouses in the United States and Europe.

A Distant Shore 

I must confess. I have mixed feelings about drawing lighthouses off shore. Can I really have the true lighthouse experience at a distant shore? In all honesty can I say I visited a lighthouse when my heart but not my feet has touched it grounds? I wrested with these feelings when painting the Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. Also since the lighthouse was under renovation, I couldn’t see all of it. As I painted the lighthouse I remember being captivated by what I think was the fuel house, the picket fence, the lighthouse windows and the rocky shore. Even at a distant shore these elements resonated with me. 
elainemarieartist.com

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. 

elainemarieartist.com