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

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.

Ideal Setting at Martha’s Vineyard

Edgartown Lighthouse

A Festive look at Edgartown Lighthouse.

According to the sign, the Edgartown Lighthouse was a popular place for weddings. It was easy to imagine wedded bliss in this platonic setting with flowers in full bloom.

Edgartown Lighthouse is located in a plush resort town. I had passed by restaurants, art galleries, churches, houses, and resort hotels on my way to the lighthouse in this idyllic and picturesque town. Boats lined the ocean and people strolled along the shore.

Edgartown was my first stop of the day. I had read that Florida lighthouses were tall because the land was near sea level. Still I was struck by the contrasts between the tall Florida lighthouses and this one
short one.

Since the lighthouse was closed, I rapidly began sketching. Three more lighthouses to go in one day!