It was a retired, “still operational” but never used anymore Tug named the Lake Superior. Yellow and black and was open to tourists until about seven years ago. The tug “Lake Superior” has a rich history with years of service on the Great Lakes, parking and launching ships, assisting in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, busting ice on Lake Superior, and was even used during World War II out on the ocean.
Tied up (starting 1996) for a decade in the Minnesota slip next to Canal Park, the Lake Superior (tug), the 71 year old workhorse was sold back into service. I was fortunate enough to tour it both inside and out while it sat there as an ice-cream shop and tourist attraction.
It did occur to me then that somehow tugboats have a magical attraction in both their shape and their purpose. Approachable in size (114 feet long for this one) tugs are a workhorse, kind of like most of us. They do tasks and chores that keep the big ships and harbors open and working too. They have a friendly profile that makes them all seem as they are like our bath tub toys and a sort of personality is exuded from them. Most are colorful with markings and flags, running lights, radar, antennas, and a cool smoke stack, and seem so sure footed or (finned) as they go about moving huge ships around. Most tugs sport a shade brow or awning over the Wheel house windows, looking like they have a visor like a card dealer would wear. This gives a very confidant and courageous personality to them, Almost all tugs have a curving upward deck and superstructure that rises towards the bow, making them look bent in the middle as if they are raising their chin and puffing up their chest. A rake with panache to their plowing through the water, challenging even the roughest of weather in their assignments.
It is impossible to not be influenced from childhood picture books when drawing a tug and harder to avoid an anthropomorphic rendering. I drew at least six variations before I realized I was doing just that. In this image I decided to just look and render taking less than twenty minutes so as to not get overworked and influenced by “Little Toot” If you don’t know who “Little Toot” is that is because me and this tug are almost the same age and “Little Toot” is too! Look up Disney’s “Little Toot”