Giant Lighthouse Painting for the Living Room

Before I moved out and got married and began the home owning adventure documented on this blog, I used to live with my family in the suburbs, in a big split-level home with four bedrooms and two bathrooms and a family room in the basement. For a time, it was a great setup for a family with three high school or college aged kids who needed their space. But then I moved out in 2008, and my sister left for college in 2010 to ultimately become a bona fide resident of New York, and my brother started looking to move into a place of his own. From what I hear, the house was definitely starting to get that “empty nest” feeling.

So in the months leading up to my Dad’s unexpected passing away this July, my parents had actually started looking to “downsize” to a home more fitting to their current needs. Find something with fewer bedrooms and no stairs, and sell the four-bedroom split-level. With Dad gone now, Mom living all alone in that gigantic house made even less sense — the financial burdens of maintaining the house aside, they’d already decided it was too big for two people to live in, let alone one.

So over the past few months, we’ve been working on cleaning the house up and making small repairs where we can in preparation to sell it. We donated and discarded a lot of old furniture and other stuff, including around 3,000 pounds of scrap metal that was stashed in the crawlspace for some reason. Mom’s been staying with relatives, with plans to move into a small apartment of her own eventually, and she rented a storage unit nearby for some of the larger items that she didn’t want to get rid of, but that had nowhere to go for the foreseeable future.

One such item was this gigantic lighthouse painting in a burnt orange and brown color scheme, measuring around 4 by 4.5 feet:

A view of the lighthouse painting.

It shows a lighthouse at sunset with waves crashing on the rocks, and a flock of white birds, and a sailboat in the distance. It’s on canvas with a narrow metallic gold frame, and there’s an artist’s signature in the bottom right corner that seems to read “Collins,” which I tried Googling but doesn’t seem to turn up anything relevant.

The painting is so big that it’s hard to do it justice with a single shot, so here are some closeups of the little details:

Details from the painting, starting from the upper left: a flock of birds flying toward the sunset, a sailboat with crashing waves, the lighthouse, and the artist’s signature.

It had been hanging in our house for as long as I can remember, never really the center of attention, and growing up I don’t think I ever wondered about where it came from. Only in the last few months did I learn that this was actually something my dad had gotten for his apartment before he even met my mom. I never would have guessed — Dad never seemed like the sort of guy who was interested in art, or in decorative objects in general, and it makes me sad that I’ll never get to ask him about the story behind it.

But given that we had a big bare wall in our living room, letting this lovely painting moulder in a storage unit, even temporarily, just seemed wrong somehow. All of which explains the new addition to the wall behind our sofa:

The painting as seen in our living room.

Anyway, that’s the sentimental story of the first piece of art we’ve brought into our home. And speaking of which, does anyone reading have any tips for researching a painting or print? I’d be curious to know a little more about this piece (and the artist, etc.) but I don’t really know where to begin.

21 Comments

  1. Well I started to ask on Kovel’s Antiques page, but they wanted money to get the answer, so I tried my own Google search, and this may be the guy http://artistderekcollins.blogspot.com/2009/08/original-acrylic-lighthouse-painting.html
    The last name signature is very similar, though he currently uses his entire name. If you contact him, he can probably tell you if it is his or not. Nice look btw, I’d add a few smaller bits asymmetrically on either side, thematic but different media, like a small shelf with metal sculpture, or a cluster of photos, maybe from Pensacola Beach?

    • Wow, thanks for the link! I just sent the artist a quick email to ask about it. And it’s funny how even with that gigantic painting the wall still feels kind of empty — creating an asymmetrical arrangement with a few additional pieces sounds like a great idea to try though, thanks for the suggestion! :)

    • Interesting — Just heard back from him, and he said it isn’t one of his, though he’s apparently been asked about paintings by this artist before due to the name thing. I guess it remains a mystery for now!

  2. Speaking as another member of your family of would-be decorators, LOL, I like the painting on it’s own on that wall. But you do need something on the wall to the left to balance the painting (it’s a beautiful painting). I’m thinking about some kind of lamp, either a hanging lamp, or one with one of those big curved arms. You probably need more light there for reading at night. You can get the lighting place to make up a decorative plug-in cord for just about any pendant type lamp. Then a couple of hooks, and you’re good to go! Looking good!

    • Thanks for the suggestions! We’ve actually been talking just this week about bringing in a couple of lamps for that side of the room, since it really does get dark and shadowy over there. And being able to compensate for some of the balance / emptiness issues with the painting would be an added bonus! :)

  3. About ten years ago, my grandmother passed away and I was given the same painting that had been hanging up in her living room. I do know she had it for a very long time. I was looking around trying to see if it was worth anything. Have you found out anything more on this painting?

    • No, unfortunately I haven’t found out anything more about this painting yet — but I’ll definitely post an update about it if and when I do. Thanks for dropping by Matthew, and best of luck to you!

  4. My wife and I are about to close on a house that has this exact painting in the living room. I was also curious about it’s value, as we already have art for our walls. Thanks for posting this, I really didn’t think it would be easy to find anything on this painting!

    • Hi Chuck — It’s always interesting to hear from someone with this exact painting! If you do ever figure out anything about it or its value etc., I’d love to hear more about what you find. Good luck with the new house and thanks for dropping by!

  5. Oh my gosh, we have the same painting also, we bought it at a yard sale for $20.00 we have had it for at least 12 years. Well, with so many of us having it, the artist must be well known. Do you know what year, you dad bought it? It’s a beautiful peice in fact we painted our walls a pecan color from Lowes, for our bungalow house built in 1925. The walls really pop, with the painting on it.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Amy! I’m surprised by how many people have stopped by to say they have the same painting, and it’s so interesting hearing from you guys. Unfortunately I’m not certain of the exact year my dad bought it, but it would have been the late 1970’s — maybe 1977 or so? And thanks for the tip about the pecan wall color — we’re likely going to do something different with this wall at some point down the road, and a color that makes the painting pop would be great! :)

  6. You know what’s weird, I was looking into this some more, and ironically got the notification about the new comments. I was looking at the one I have and while the picture is indeed the same one, the signature is a little different. I am not sure if it even means anything, but thought I’d share.

    • Oh, that’s an interesting little piece of the puzzle to add — I’m not quite sure what to make of it either, but I have a feeling anyone who stumbles across this post will be looking more closely at the signature now. Thanks for taking the time to leave the follow-up comment!

  7. I fell in love with this painting in a thrift store. I can’t seem to find anything about it the artist either, your site being the most comprehensive in details. One thing to note, on my painting is subtle differences. My signature is slightly different and painted with a faded white, not the bright white you see here. Details on your lighthouse is slightly different then mine and such.
    I am really wondering about this artist and the painting much more now, as so many do own one.
    Its huge but its breathtakingly beautiful. People walk into my home and as it’s the first thing they see, they will just gasp and stare at it enchanted.

  8. I have the same exact painting ! But mine has a smeared name in side of Collins …. Exact same 8016037949 please someone call n talk to me about this !

  9. Im in utah m friend said when she moved in basement it was there this was 14 years ago …she lived there 4 …so 18 Yes old so far ! Call or text me if u guys get any leads that 3 Ppl so far same painting … looks very real on canvas !

  10. Thanks for the comments, Megan and Angie — it’s great hearing from you, and I love that this post is still getting a slow and steady trickle of responses from people looking for info on the same (or very similar) painting. If anyone wants to send me a snapshot showing slight differences in the signature, etc. from their version, I would love to see those (and possibly do a follow-up post) — feel free to email me at sarah [at] babytalkbungalow [dot] com. Thanks!

    • This oil painting must be popular. My grandparents had the painting for as long as I can remember, then my mother and now me. I am also doing research on who the artist is. I have found nothing so far. Thank you for sharing. I did find it selling on Ebay :) of course no info on the artist there either.

  11. hmm, strange things, I (In the Netherlands EU)also have “exactly” the same picture on the wall but indeed in details different, like the signature is more ‘friendlier’, ’rounder’, but also the railing of the lighthouse (I see only two, but in your painting I see five lines. The birds however have exact the same formation, but the waves are totally different again. The clouds have the same shapes, but are differently ‘collored’ or filled.
    Could we open a site somehow to post and compare all our versions ?

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