I know, I know. A lighthouse is a tiresome cliché. Haven’t we seen a thousand paintings of lighthouses just like this one? It’s like other well-worn motifs——the barn or the fishing boat. It can be hard to find a twist or a connection to make it interesting.
But I was tired from walking for four miles along Gibraltar, and I just plunked down and painted it from the first angle I saw it from. There was nothing interesting or unusual about the painting. I was just thinking as I painted the lighthouse how the brave lighthouse keeper had protected ships from the dangers of the coast.
Imagine my surprise when I finished the painting, packed up my stuff and walked a hundred yards farther. Hidden behind the level of the bluff was a jaw-dropping shipwreck. In the foreground was a junkyard of refrigerators inhabited by wild monkeys. Motifs everywhere! But I had to go catch a plane.
I guess the lesson is to take a minute to walk once around the motif before you get started.