"Bill Mitchell Lighthouse Art" is a family run, small business that sells copies of my artwork. My favorite medium is black and white pencil sketches, and I specialize in lighthouse pictures. While I have sketched some East Coast and Gulf Coast lighthouses, I have sketched many Great Lakes lighthouses with Michigan lighthouses being my favorite. I package my pencil sketches into lighthouse note cards and lighthouse matted prints. Please click the “Purchase” menu tab for more information.
I picked up a large dose of sketching ability from my dad Tom Mitchell, a very talented regional artist in the Mason City, Iowa, area from the '50s into the '90s. He dabbled in lots of art forms, but I always thought he was at his peak when he sketched either with pen or pencil. His signature scene was Pilot Knob, near Forest City, Iowa, which he must have sketched or painted a couple dozen times. Although Pilot Knob, strictly speaking, is not a lighthouse, standing on a hill with its cylindrical stone wall it has the look of a lighthouse. When you climb to the top, you have a wonderful, ten mile view of rolling Iowa farmland. Just for fun, and to honor Dad's memory, I also have sketched Pilot Knob. One of Dad's many versions is on the left below; mine is on the right.
After graduating from Iowa State University with an electrical engineering degree, I went to work for an electric utility company in Toledo, Ohio. I used to hand sketch my preliminary engineering, which I then gave to a draftsman to draw a detailed design package. Over a thirty plus year span, I got pretty good at drawing straight lines and circles, which are huge parts of my sketching technique today.
In 1999 I took a camping trip to Michigan's UP to do some canoeing and lighthouse sketching. I did more of the latter than the former, and had a ball overall. I made a 2000 lighthouse calendar featuring the sketches from this first trip. For several years after that 1999 trip my wife Shirley and I visited lighthouses during our summer vacation, and I made several more lighthouse calendars that we gave to close friends and relatives at Christmas.
In 2002 Shirley and I semi-retired and we relocated to a home in the woods near Ludington, Michigan. I started "Bill Mitchell Lighthouse Art", a cottage business, and now I spend a lot of my time with lighthouses and sketching. Big Sable 2, shown on the right below, is probably my favorite lighthouse sketch to date. We also volunteer at Big Sable, and the lighthouse is very close to being on the same line of latitude as is our house. About the time I did the Big Sable 2 sketch, I changed my sketch style from a two hour effort, real time at the sketch location, to an eight hour effort, after-the-fact in front of a photographic print. I usually sketch on 9x12 paper which I grid into 108, 1"x1" smaller sketches. Of course, with this style I obtain much more detail than I did previously. The gridding provides excellent overall proportion of the scene, and from a distance the sketch almost looks like a photograph. I especially like the ability to capture shadows at a particular instance in time. In the pictures below old style is left and new style is right.
Thank you for staying with me this far, for now you know something of what I do these days. I hope you enjoy the lighthouse pencil sketches I have selected for inclusion in this web site, as much as I enjoyed making them!
Bill Mitchell Lighthouse Art - March 5, 2020