This painting titled “Light Keeper” (oil and acrylic on canvas 24″ x 18″) is a portrait of a modern-day docent, Del, at the Point Sur Lighthouse in California. Apart from the cap he was wearing and his portrait, the rest is Frank’s researched imagination.
The drill for the Light Keeper over 100 years ago was to have the big light on a half hour before sunset, and keep it going until a half hour after sunrise. This painting depicts him running to make his appointed time with the setting sun.
It took a dedicated person to keep a lighthouse flame going so it would project its lifesaving light 20 miles out to sea. Light Keepers were highly respected by most for their critical, yet lonely work. Often isolated far away from busy towns, they would sometimes work through the night to keep the light burning and the emerging technology of gears and pulleys functioning to turn the massive lens shining its distinctive light code, revealing a specific place.
Keeping the light burning and the hundreds of lens prisms polished, was a very disciplined and courageous practice. It may seem romantic, being at the seashore and all, but the reality is that some of the Light Keepers went over the edge, either figuratively or literally, while fulfilling their lonely duties. Some landlubbers on the shore just took the Light Keeper’s work for granted, even scoffing at their value or disrespecting their lifestyle.
The captains and crews of the vessels plying the coastal waters had great respect for the unseen Light Keepers. These traders and builders of commerce showed their support for those protecting them from unseen dangers. It would have been unheard of to demean their vital work or cast aspersions on their lives.
Today, we all should show proper respect and consideration to those who labor to make our lives better. We need to give appropriate consideration to those who serve us with their skills, seeking to protect and serve those in danger, lest shame fall on us for being thoughtless and inconsiderate.