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                               Big Red Lighthouse


                                 White River Lighthouse 

A couple of years ago, Richard McNaughton challenged many of his fellow art bloggers to paint lighthouses. My sister was up for this! She has always been drawn to lighthouses and visiting them when she travels. To make a long story short, she made sure I had reference photos of five of them for the challenge. You can see the paintings I did from those references by clicking here.  For a while, now, she has wanted me to paint two more of the lighthouses she has visited.  I finally sat myself down and drew and painted them for her. These are both lighthouses from Michigan that she has visited. She says they call the one on the top “Big Red”.

One thing I had to keep in mind is how I painted the previous five as she would like to hang them together. For these, I used a wonderful coldpress watercolor paper called Cartiera Magnani. I also kept these to the size that I had painted the others and tried to stay true to the colors I had used for the others. I had to use liquid frisket to save small areas of white in each painting, since I worked so small. I really enjoy working on this paper but have not been able to order large sheets of it. Every time I try, I am told it is out of stock. I have two blocks of the small 9 x 12  inch sheets remaining. It is a soft paper with an interesting texture and the water and pigments soak into it immediately. It is great for a rather detailed look and retains the brilliant color of the pigments exceptionally well.


  1. Looks beautiful and cohesive, hope you share a picture of all hung together, I m sure that would be awesome!

    • That is so interesting that you say you’d like to see these hanging together. My sister is going to talk to her framer about this. She may frame a couple together or frame three, one above the other or frame them separately and hang them in a row above something. I don’t think she has decided what she is going to do. If I can, I will photograph what she does. May be awhile. Thank you for your comment, Padmaja.

  2. Both totally amazing, wow! That red one has tons of character. I really love all the colorful and detailed foliage in both.

    • Thank you, Cindy. The foliage in the second one was very challenging to get all that texture to read similar to what I saw. It was totally overgrown around that side of the lighthouse.

  3. What an interesting lighthouse (the big red) and I imagine fun to paint. Your painting is done very well; I thought it was a photograph on first glance.

    • Thank you for that about that “Big Red” one. It was fun…. getting the red to look dark and strong, yet weathered and warm was quite a challenge. Alizarin Crimson was too cool a red, so I went with fire engine red and mixed some burnt unber in it to weather and darken it a bit. This paper helps with that photographic look. I don’t know why, but it does.

  4. I love your painting grandma.It makes you feel like everything that’s good in the world.

  5. What beautiful lighthouses you have! And I love the way that you have treated the foliage… pointillism – perfect!

    • Thank you for your comment, designsweet. I keep going back to this pointillism effect for foliage because I just am not very good at getting things to look as textured as I want them to look any other way. I think I may use too much water when I try swishing them in.

  6. Beautiful! Is the red one in Holland, Mi? Do you know where in Michigan the second one is?

    • Hi Caroline,
      Thank you for your comment. I should have looked these up for everyone, so I edited, above, and if you click on the highlighted blue title underneath each it will take you to their website and there is a brief history of both and why they were needed. The first one is near Holland, MI as you said and the second one my sister called the Montague Lighthouse but is listed as the White River Lighthouse near Ludington, MI on the internet. Hope that helps. 🙂

    • Thanks for the info! We have been to both. You did a great job, as always!

  7. These are all lovely and will be amazing hanging together. I am drawn to light houses as well……mostly seen them in Maine and Northern California. There is just something about them.

  8. These lighthouses are as beautiful as the others! Your sister’s one lucky gal! I remember Richard’s challenge. That was fun. I like Padmaja’s request to see them all framed and hung together. I bet that would be amazing.

    • When she finally decides how she is going to frame them and gets them hung, I’ll see if I can get a picture of them. Thank you for your comment. Oh my, after all the splattering I’ve been doing, it was hard to make the turn around and paint this way. Ha!

      • LOL! I know. After a while you want to splatter everything!

  9. What a loving sister you are! Your lighthouses are terrific. I enjoy reading your proceedural explanations regarding color choices and attention to details. I have a brother-in-law also fascinated by lighthouses. I just completed a painting of Highland Lighthouse, Truro, as a gift for him. See

  10. Beautiful Leslie, both are wonderful paintings with different personalities and steadfast with the times.

    • Inese Poga Art Gallery
    • Posted September 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm
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    • Reply

    Extremely attractive portraits of lighthouses in brilliant colors! Great works as always!

  11. I love the reds in both of these. It ties them together very well. The second one almost has a church like appearance.

    • I agree with you on that second one looking like a church. I have to tell you, when I do something like this, I think of you and your wonderful architectural paintings! Thank you!

  12. Oh my! I have never seen lighthouses like this!! Makes me want to travel… These are lovely Leslie! I love your colors!

  13. what a cool series – more bold colours – kapow – delivered with such confidence it seems – I like these paintings so much – they convey just the spirit of service and adventure that lighthouses should (for me). Long ago when Namibia was wild I lived in a lighthouse for a while so they have a special place in my memories

    • I really liked revisiting the lighthouses for my sister, Stephen. How cool to have lived in one!!! Thank you!

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