Thursday, September 25, 2014

Painting Michigan

For ArtPrize 2014, I decided to create a series of paintings that capture Michigan's beautiful and unique landscape.  I traveled across the state in order to paint these scenes immersed in nature on location at various parks.  With these paintings, I hope to bring a sense of pride and appreciation to the beautiful state of Michigan.

I created this painting of the Sleeping Bear Dunes from the Empire Bluff in Empire, Michigan. I wanted to get a great view of the Sleeping Bear Dunes for my collection of pieces and researched places I could go. This was the winner. After a long hike through the woods, I reached my destination and was in awe. The view from the Empire Bluff is stunning, because you are up so high. I sat on the edge of the bluff to create this painting and enjoyed watching seagulls and black birds fly below me. The color differences in the water was very alluring. I can only hope this piece captures how beautiful the scene truly was.

I created this painting at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I hiked up the dune at the Dune Hike to get this stunning view of Glenn Lake. The vegetation growing on the dune was very diverse, and one plant that stuck out to me was the beautiful purple shrub-like flowers that were growing everywhere. It was a very windy day, especially at the top of the dune, and I tried to capture the movement of the wind in my painting with my line work and brush strokes.

 I often ride my bike along the Kent Trails in Grand Rapids and admire the scenery along the Grand River. The day I went to paint, I rode my bike up and down the river until I found the perfect spot. I enjoyed the way the little stream under the canopy of trees pored out into the Grand River in this scene. Cottonwood trees where releasing their cotton and it was quite magical the way they floated from the sky, landed in the river, and floated downstream. I enjoyed watching a little robin take multiple baths in the stream, but unfortunately did not add him in the painting.

I visited the Pictured Rocks for the first time last fall, and knew that I had to return to paint the amazing sandstone cliffs. I created this pieces at Miners Beach along the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. I thought this scene was really interesting the way Miners River leads into Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks begin.

I visited the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore for the first time last fall, and it was amazing. When I decided to create a collection of Michigan landscapes for ArtPrize, I knew I had to return and capture the Pictured Rocks' stunning scenery. I specifically chose mosquito beach, because of it's unique layering of sandstone formations that emerge out of Lake Superior. After a two mile hike through the Picture Rocks National Forest I reached the beach and created this piece on scene.

I created this painting in Charlevoix when I went up for the Charlevoix Summer Solstice Art Show in June. After conversing with a nice couple about my ArtPize entry, Painting Michigan, they suggested to go to North Point Park along the outskirts of Charlevoix, and I am glad that I took their suggestion. I easily found a perfect view of the lakeshore. Seagulls, swallows and butterflies all were playfully flying amongst the scene while I was painting in the sun. In my painting, I captured seagulls taking a dip in Lake Michigan, along with the swallows that kept flying across the sky. 

I chose to paint this scene, because it captured the beautiful wildflowers that grow in the meadows here in Michigan. Blandford Nature Center is a wonderful place to hike and to learn about nature. As I walked around the center to find the perfect spot, I saw a few yellow finches and other birds in the trees along with multiple butterflies in the field. It was beautiful.

I chose to paint at the Hoffmaster State Park, because it is a beautiful park with wooded hiking trails that lead out to untouched dunes. I decided to paint this scene, because of the high viewpoint over looking the dunes and Lake Michigan, which sparkled in the sunlight. The vegetation along the terrain and variety of color in the water defiantly inspired me when creating this piece and brought it to life.

The Saugatuck Dunes State Park always gives me plenty of inspiration when I visit, because of it's rolling dunes and abundant forests. When I went to create this piece, I first hiked along the shoreline, but then decided to follow a trail into the woods. I had already painted a wooded scene in Sturgis, but the woods along the lakeshore did not resemble the woods I painted previously in southern Michigan. The ground was filled with sand, and different trees were growing here. I chose this specific spot, because of the way the sun illuminated the leaves of the trees against the dark pines. The fungus growing on the trees added a wonderful little pattern to the scene.

I painted this painting where I grew up, in Sturgis, Michigan. My Grandma lives there and her home has beautiful woods. I thought it would be a perfect place to paint for my collection of Michigan landscapes. I hiked around her woods until I found the perfect scene and composition that captured the beauty of her luscious Michigan woods.

While I was in Munising, in order to paint the Pictured Rocks, I also wanted to capture one of the many waterfalls that are present there. I spent the morning visiting each waterfall in order to see which one inspired me the most. The Wagner Falls was the winner. I chose the Wagner Falls, because of the magnitude of the falls and complexity of the way the water pored over the rocks, and the greenery that surrounded it. It had rained earlier in the morning that day, so the colors of the plants illuminated more and contributed to the making of a beautiful painting full of color.

I always notice this beautiful marshy area on my way to Kirk Park, so I decided to paint this scene and make it a part of my collection of Michigan landscapes. I have spotted bald eagles here before when I have visited, and also learned from many of the residents in the area that passed by while I was painting, that the eagles have a nest here. As I was painting this scene I did not see them, but I saw a few white cranes that flew in and spent some time walking around in the water together. It was beautiful to watch them as I completed this scene.

Original paintings and prints are available at