The Tale of the Tugboats

Lighted Tugboat

I don’t know exactly when I first decided to paint a tugboat on a Christmas card. I do know that I was thrilled when our relocation to Baltimore Harbor allowed me to watch these small but mighty vessels on a regular basis. The sight of two tugboats working in tandem to guide, turn, and position ships as they navigate the narrow waterway never ceases to amaze me.

Something else I love to see on the harbor is the Parade of Lighted Boats. Held annually on the first Saturday in December, the parade is a visual party for Baltimore residents as they watch boats decorated with bright lights process in a loop around the Inner Harbor.

I decided to paint a version of my favorite tugboat as I imagined it with colorful lights and a wreath. Then I painted another one, and another one after that. Whenever I felt frustrated or had a bit of downtime, I would simply pull out my watercolors and paint a boat. I finally stopped after completing 70 individually painted tugboats.

What did I do with all of these tugboats? I gave them away in the form of holiday greeting cards. Fortunately, people liked them – they really liked them! It made me so happy to walk into the home of a friend, neighbor, or family member and see my painting on their fireplace mantel, even well beyond the holiday season.

Painting 70 of the same image taught me a great deal about the craft of watercolor painting, but that doesn’t mean I need to do it again. Fortunately, I have found a wonderful printing company that can reproduce my original images far more efficiently than I can paint. I’ve included the printed tugboat card here so that you, too can enjoy this holiday sight.

Tugboats are the best.

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