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Lynne Roebuck (Handwritten)
Looking back toward the seaside town of Whitby from beneath the taller lighthouse, you see the other one to the left.

‘The Two Lighthouses, Whitby’

Whitby, Yorkshire Coast, UK.

This landscape art print shows the two lighthouses on the end of the harbour piers at the British seaside town of Whitby.

Whitby is on the East Coast of Yorkshire, in the North of England. Its harbour has two piers, and each one has a lighthouse on the end.

Lighthouses of character

One lighthouse is taller than the other, and they look like they were built at different times. They were. The taller one was built 16 years before the smaller of the two, according to records. This is why they're not identical twins.

I'm only aware of one other coastal town in the UK with two lighthouses on its harbour: St Ives in Cornwall. (You might know otherwise)

original art

  • Medium: digital (computer)

Unlike in St Ives, the newer Whitby lighthouse did not replace the older one. In Whitby, they operated at the same time, helping boats navigate the tricky approach to the harbour entrance.

A seaside town with stories to tell

These two beacons stand at the entrance to a harbour with an ancient history.

It includes invasions, battles, trading, alum quarrying, shipbuilding, ship wrecks, departures on epic adventures, and of course, the arrival of notable vampires (Are there any other kinds of vampire, other than notable ones?).

The lights add another tale to the rich history of this small Yorkshire town on the coast. Include the Abbey and the rock formation on the horizon, called Saltwick Nab, and you have a piece of art that's full of interest, intriguing stories and most of all, walks in the bracing salty sea air.

How I made 'Two Lighthouses'

I've visited Whitby many times. I've lots of sketches and some plein-air paintings of Whitby's harbour, abbey, and beaches.

The place draws me back time and again, not only for a grand day out by the sea, but seeking inspiration for art too. I usually see ideas for paintings and prints everywhere I go. At Whitby, I'm bombarded by ideas, almost every few steps, turn this way or that – they're everywhere!

The one thing I'm never short of is inspiration. It would be good if I could turn it off sometimes, in truth. Why? Because my list of art‑to‑make grows and grows, overwhelming me at times.

Hand‑drawn original art

'The Two Lighthouses, Whitby' is hand‑drawn using a computer pencil on a computer screen. I drew it while in my studio from sketches made on location, and from rough ideas drawings. I also use photos to help check details and anything I missed in my sketchbook work.

I never copy, or trace, photos when making my art, by the way. Appart from finding it a boring thing to do, I always use a great deal of what's called "artist's license" in my art. We're not cameras, looking through a lens, and I'm trying to make art that comes closer to how we humans absorb a scene.

In the style of my linocuts

'Two Lighthouses' is in the style of my linocuts. The way I've drawn this art is the same as when I'm planning one of my lino prints. In fact, I now use my computer to plan my lino art.

I create several layers in the art, one for each colour, exactly mirroring how linocuts are made.

I spend a lot of time subtracting one shape from another, almost like carving out bits of lino. This is why the style of this art is the same as my linoprints – I draw them in the same way.

Displaying this art

There are old photographs showing a bustling port. They tell of a harbour filled with tall ships nestled inside the safety of its walls.

The ruins high on the cliffs to the right are Whitby Abbey, historically a considerable influence on the area's prosperity, and its calm.

Whitby is also the only port on a long stretch of coast with little safety on offer otherwise. The town's mismatched twin lights, when built, must have been a welcome sight for those out at sea.

I've read suggestions that entering the harbour could be a tricky affair. The sea visible beyond the second lighthouse hides rocks. They stretch unseen into the deep ocean, concealed even at low tide.

There are relatively recent fragments of shipwrecks, beyond the rock formations on the horizon, to the right of the shorter lighthouse. Having built the one light, did they later decide another was necessary?

I'm not sure there are many ports with two lighthouses – a single light is more typical, I think.

The difference in height between the beacons was not the result of hard times. It was a deliberate design to help ships navigate into the harbour safely.

The duo stands apart, separated by tides, time, materials and construction – individual, yet joined by a common reason for existing.

The taller one is wrinkled by a great deal of weathering, betraying its older status. Perhaps the materials are not the same, or the West pier is more exposed.

A stroll along the harbour walls to the end of the pier is always rewarding, regardless of the weather. But then, there's much to love about Whitby, and I'll be making more Whitby art, no doubt.

More Whitby art