“There is a Light to Starboard, Sir, right off our lee bow!”, A Medley of Lighthouse Sketches, by Tom Hale, 2010, Tisbury Printer, 60-pages, 28 illustrations. $19.95.
In the Vineyard community there are of course many people who consider the ocean the center of their world, but perhaps none more so than Tom Hale. Through the years Mr. Hale, 85, has demonstrated his love for the sea in countless ways. He has built models of the biggest sailing boats and he has written fiction about the sea. More than once he has stood at the podium at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and talked in great detail about some aspect of past seafaring days. For 25 years he ran Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard off Beach Road; in 1986 he handed the reins to his son who still runs it as a family operation today. Among Island sailors and boaters, he is without a doubt the senior maritime enthusiast.
Now Mr. Hale’s life and love of the sea have been shaped yet again into another piece of artwork. He has assembled a collection of 28 pencil drawings spanning three decades of lighthouses, lights and one fog bell.
“Over the years, I have done quite a lot of drawings. I have a desk full of drawings,” he said in a recent interview. And so the idea came to him to put them together as a book, which he decided to narrow down to a collection of lighthouses. Many of the sketches have been used for Christmas cards over the years.
They include the usual favorites among the Island lighthouses, from Cape Pogue to the Gay Head Light. But they also go farther out to sea, and include the Ragged Point Light in Barbados, drawn in March of 1975. There is the Cape Reinga Light in New Zealand, drawn in January 1987, one of the oddest looking small lighthouses in the collection.
Many of the lighthouses have a personal story connected to a trip the author took. Mr. Hale loves to draw, and if he doesn’t have time to sit and sketch, he will snap a picture and draw later.
It is a rare illustrator who only works in one medium, but Mr. Hale’s book is a product of just that. His sketches were all done with a number two pencil, perhaps an underrated artist’s tool, especially for a maritime artist.
In this fast-paced digital age, a collection of pencil sketches may be just what we need in our lives. And Tom Hale’s collection opens a journey that takes the reader to many delightful places.
— Mark Lovewell