Michigan is absolutely gorgeous. I could just leave it at that! 😉
For Memorial Day weekend my Alex and I drove around the Lake from Chicago up to the top of the mitten in Michigan. We stayed with a dear student of mine who has a home on Lake Leelanau. It’s a beautiful lake with the cutest, quaintest, fishing town called Leland nestled between it and the majestic Lake Michigan.
On our second day there, I participated in a Plein Air competition and exhibit. This event was hosted by The Old Art Building in Leland. I’ve done a number of these over the years, but this one was my favorite—by far! There was no area constraint (I could drive an hour away to paint if I wanted to,) and we had from 8am-4pm to paint! Originally I planned to only spend 3 hours painting, but I ended up painting for twice as long. My student, Karen, painted alongside me (but did not participate in the show—next year, Karen!) and Alex was our driver and wet-paint police; he made sure any paint that ended up on our clothes or fingers didn’t end up spread throughout the car haha!
I first painted on top of a hill with an unpaved road. The weather was unpredictable that day with showers on and off, so I knew I wanted to paint somewhere that had a lot of “layers” to the scene: road, grass, tree line, more tree line, lake in the distance, hills beyond that, and finally sky. (That’s a note for my fellow painters.) This spot was just so beautiful and quiet. We even picked a bouquet of wild Irises growing up there! (That’s for another post!) There were two cars that came up the road during the three hours we were on the hill: The first was an old man who stopped to snip an armful of lilacs that were growing wildly just down the road from us. I pretended he was Matthew Cuthbert. 😉 The other car that came also stopped. It was a man with his father and uncle inquiring to . . . buy a painting! That was a fun moment for us all. Such a joy to be in a small, friendly town.
After finishing my painting on the hill, I had seen a spot in town I wanted to paint. It was overlooking a river with sweet boats full of cheerful people casually floating down it. I happened to paint a scene on this river that had a pretty, white-colored inn that was the same spot my student was married at years ago! She was kind enough to purchase the painting for their home on the lake. It looked beautiful on their mantle! (Thank you, Karen!) Unfortunately I didn’t get a great picture of it without a glare, or I would share! That painting was very fun for me though. I painted through a bit of rain to finish it, and then ran home to finish the rest by memory when it really started to rain! I think it’s fitting that it stay there.
At 4pm all artists turned in their work, framed and ready to hang. At 6pm the show was up and guests were arriving! The ambiance was wonderful, and it was apparent that this community loved the arts and loved their home. I can see why! By this point, I was so exhausted from the day of painting and “braving the elements” haha (and waking up very early the day before to drive there) that I didn’t get any photos from the reception! I’m kicking myself for that! It was so lovely! I think that just means that I’ll have to go back again next year and paint again! Who will join me?
On Top of the Hill – Alpers Road:
My finished painting from on top of the hill! My favorite part is the little glimmer of Lake Leelanau on the top right corner.
The River Scene:
Painting the river scene! Admittedly, I was nervous of falling in the river a few times, but it turned out to be a great place to paint! It was a bit windy, so I decided not to use my easel and just paint with canvas in hand.
Just getting started on my painting here. You can see a little ripple from the first rain drop on this last photo, too! It’s part of the joy of painting en plein air!
–Also, a note for my fellow artists: I’m squinting here to see value patterns. 🙂
A Little More:
The incredible Lake Leelanau after a rain shower.
A beautiful barn (one of many) tucked away among orchards. I could paint on location for 100 years in that area and still have more to paint!
The beautiful orchards that are everywhere! I have a special place in my heart for orchards. They hold many dear memories of mine. This one looked like it fell right out of a Monet painting!
Just a beautiful country road. Can I live here?
Alex and I our first day there–in awe at the serenity! Can you see how clear that water is?! (It was colder than I expected, and I packed t-shirts, so I wore that sweater a lot haha!)
This is the hat I’m wearing in the photos. You can find it on Amazon by clicking here. It’s really awesome for plein air! I love it.
Hope you’ve enjoyed!
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