Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2011

Former Lighthouse Keeper Paints for History


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Former lighthouse keeper Ernie DeRaps busy at ...
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Ernie DeRaps, an 83 year-old former lighthouse keeper, has recently completed a painting of every Maine lighthouse with hopes to use the paintings as a stepping stone to reprint the dual book Lighthouse Keeping and Light House Keeping that he and his wife Polly authored a few years ago.

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Some of former lighthouse keeper Ernie DeRaps’ ...
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The two-sided dual book was published in 2006 by FogHorn Publishing in cooperation with Lighthouse Digest and quickly sold out. But it was Ernie and his wife who comprised the dual dynamo sales force that led the book being sold out so quickly. The energetic couple gave numerous presentations where they showed slides and talked about their life at Maine lighthouses. Each presentation was followed by an autograph signing of their books.

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Ernie DeRaps’ painting of Maine’s Fort Point ...
Photo by: Lisa R. Shea

DeRaps said that he would like to see his book reprinted so that copies could be distributed to every library in Maine as well as to the many people who have not read their story about lighthouse life. However, current economic conditions have prevented the book from being reprinted.

The DeRaps’ book is unique because one half of the book tells of Ernie DeRaps’ memories of lighthouse life, and then when you flip the book upside down and over, it tells his wife’s view of lighthouse life. The book even has two different covers and includes numerous images and photographs.

Upon his third retirement in January of 2008, at the age of 80, Ernie took up art, painting in Acrylics. With no formal training, he started painting Maine coastal scenes. However, when he read about gallery art shows, he realized that he would need to keep his paintings to one theme. So, he decided to do create a painting of every Maine lighthouse. His thought was that, because the art work was done by a former lighthouse keeper, it would draw some public attention. It also occurred to him that he might be able to sell the paintings to raise money to have his book reprinted.

His first eight lighthouse paintings were 14 inches by 18 inches and were randomly selected from his collection of lighthouse slides. Then, as he painted lighthouses from the southern part of the state while working his way up the coast, he changed to a 16 inch by 20 inch format His last painting was completed on March 18, 2011. The displayed paintings now take up over 250 square feet of wall space when hung 2 inches from each other.

However, Ernie says he does not plan to sell the paintings until they have first been displayed, all together, in a gallery or museum setting. Then, if there is a market for them, he hopes the paintings will generate enough income to reprint his book.

DeRaps says “Our first-hand accounts of lighthouse life are of great historical importance and the younger people of today need to learn about our lighthouse and maritime heritage.”

We couldn’t agree more.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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