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"Plein Air Oil on the Shores of Lake Superior"
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Author: Larry_Seiler, Contributing Editor

My family has a cabin in Michigan's glorious Upper Peninsula, though I have only recently sought to explore and better understand the shores of Lake Superior. Little did I realize that within only about 15 minutes of our cabin I would discover a wonderful stretch of beaches, all part of the Presque Isle tract just a couple miles north of Marquette, Michigan and leading up to the harbour lighthouse some 25-30 miles to Big City.

I found this wonderful little stretch just north of an area called, "Wetmore's Landing" with clear footpaths that lead along the wooded shores. I encountered perhaps a handful of people for the time I was there, and all at a distance.

Everything about it shouted the possibilities of many paintings! I've been planning for a couple years to make my trek to the favored beaches of California for painters, such as Laguna Beach, (and still do), but here I was seeing every bit as much the exciting views minus the crowds.

To prepare this day for my hike in, and not knowing how much time I'd have, I taped an 8"x 10" gessoed panel carefully around its edges to the back of my main 12"x 16." In this way, I could do two paintings of varying sizes and exit easily enough. Simply turn the wet and finished larger painting around in my French easel, lock it in and paint the smaller one.
Here you see my path heading to the beaches of "Wetmore Landing" and is typical of what you experience in upper Wisconsin and Michigan. Though, you don't always have the luxury of a nice groomed path waiting for you.

The first time I found this spot, I had pulled into a barely marked dirt entree and a small dirt parking lot. The path is blocked to prevent vehicles. I had no idea where the path led, but that's how I find good spots for fishing, painting, and so on.

About halfway down the path, you begin to hear the rythmic crashing of the waves which is your first hint you are about to see something special.

This is what awaits the inquisitive soul. This particular beach stretch is known as "Wetmore's Landing" and there are about four or five wooden steps built to take path users down to the beach. There is a path that runs about six miles along this Presque Isle tract of shoreline for bikers, runners, and nature lovers. Here we are looking south toward Marquette, Michigan.

  • Click here for a nice video clip!
I've arrived at my site, spent about ten minutes simply trying to decide between a couple possibilities. I ask myself which view has more to reveal to me. The unknowns at this point that I sense will make the best painting from which the engaging process of painting will reveal. That moment of "there...I've nailed it!" is what I often refer to as the "ah-HAH!" The spirit of the inherent beauty of the place captured or realized.

Here you see my El Greco Mohagany half-size French easel all set up and ready to go. I have a waste (grocery) plastic bag attached to the side for gloves, rags and paper. My palette sits and balances across the open drawer (with exception of windy days of course!). A roll of paper towel sits in the back of the easel quite conveniently.

I have been particularly fond of this easel with its solidity and fine craftsmanship. Its strong sturdy nature in all kinds of weather conditions. It sports fine brass hardware, and has proved to be a good investment.

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