The first time I went to visit Lake Michigan, I expected a large lake that I could see across. My husband, a Michigan native, was taking me to his family cottage on the lake, and I assumed I would see the lights of Wisconsin twinkling on the Western side.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a body of water as vast as the ocean! The water faded into the horizon some sixty miles out, so that the earth disappeared. My husband’s family laughed when I tried to run in. The water is clear and inviting, but so cold! Like an icicle in June, but swimmable when the wind blows from the south in August.
Every sunset over Lake Michigan is a ten.
This last summer, due to the shift to work-from-home during Covid, our family traveled to the lake and spent the whole summer there. For the first time, I was able to observe the weather patterns of the lake over a span of weeks. Some afternoons, the light grows bright and sparkling, and the lake turns a teal blue-green. On stormy days, the lake roils with greenish-brown waves that make for wonderful body surfing. On a quiet day, the lake fades from royal blue edges to midnight blue depths.
Every day at sunset, my husband’s family gathers on the cliff to watch the sun sink into the lake. They have a saying that “every sunset over Lake Michigan is a ten.” I have to agree. Some days are plainer, like a glowing orange ball in blue water, but some days are spectacular peach-red-gold tapestries of cloud. Sad days have spooky whisps of blue mist floating by the sun. When you are in the water at sunset, some thirty feet out, the light pours on you and you feel you have entered an ethereal, holy place.
I took hundreds of photographs over the summer and finally started to paint from them. Creating a feathered cloud edge with watercolor is hard, I have learned. Water itself presents a great challenge to the artist. So many ripples in the sea! So many grains of sand! I have attempted to capture the tranquility and majesty of the lake at sunset.
Hope you enjoy these two paintings of Lake Michigan, available for purchase at 4th Street Fine Art.