Chasing Impressionism

Sleeping Bear Dunes Impression

I’m merging my love of Impressionism and our National Parks with my latest 9 x 12 acrylic canvas work…Sleeping Bear Dream…

Inspired by a trip I took to Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2021, I sought to capture the formidable windswept dunes and the crystal clear inland sea in this landscape painting.

Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes of the world and I was stunned at the grandeur of the space. Having grown up near the coast of North Carolina…I’m used to the ocean and dramatic waves, but had never seen a lake so vast.

My process:

I used a mix of unbleached titatanium and raw siena to create the base layer. Acrylic paint works better when you have a base layer of Gesso and other Acrylic paint. Acrylic sticks well to other acrylics, the base layer sets the foundation.

I think worked to build layers of burnt sienna and other ruddy browns and yellows to create the sand dunes. The dunes are pristine, but have layers of driftwood, sandstone and other elements that can create some deeper color constrasts depending on the layer or type of dunes.

I did adjust the reference photo a bit, using my memory with slight imagination to create the coastline.

We had calm waters during our trip, but I studied other photos that included the rough crashing waves against a blue sky.

The painting took about three hours to paint. It was not without frustration…

One tip for any artist, you have to give yourself grace. The middle of the painting can often look terrible – muddy, undefined and you are tempted to give up – but I challenge you to keep adding layers and building out the values and colors. This is part of the process.

Also don’t be afraid to start over on certain sections if it isn’t yielding the initial vision you had. I changed the coastline a bit and am glad I did.

Painting is meant to be fun and it is okay to experiment and take your time.

I invite you to take home this seascape of Lake Michigan…Prints are available here or you can purchase the original on

A few Lake Michigan photos I took in 2021

Thanks and until next time…

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