Painting To Protect: The Great Lakes

Photo by my dear friend and fellow lake lover:  Mae Stier

Photo by my dear friend and fellow lake lover: Mae Stier

The Great Lakes have been a part of my entire life. Born and raised in Michigan, I have never strayed too far from them. While in Chicago I lived only a mile from Lady Lake Michigan and now in Wisconsin I remain surrounded by small lakes and just a 90-minute drive away from The Greats.

I don’t regularly attend church – yet God, a larger being, the Universe, my faith whatever that might be for you, has always been a big part of my life. I feel most connected to that part of myself when in the presence of beautiful nature (often while standing at the lakeshore) and while working in my studio. I have a busy mind – my ideas constantly buzz around distracting me, but The Lakes and painting never fails to steady me. They are a calming reminder that I’m not alone, and that there is someone/something way bigger than my 5’3” self to lean on and listen to.

With recent changes in my own life, I finally have time to invest in a larger, more thoughtful painting series. Naturally, I came up with the idea of tying my artwork and love for The Lakes together. I am calling this series “Lake Lovers” and donating 5% of the proceeds towards Great Lakes protection programs.

The series will release on November 1st. Time TBA. Sign up for my email newsletter to get early access!

12x16 Painting from the Lake Lovers series, releasing November 1st

12x16 Painting from the Lake Lovers series, releasing November 1st

“Lake Lovers” features scenes of just that – “Lake Lovers” - people walking to the lake, lounging near the lake, or simply symbolized by the sandals they kick off at the entrance to the lake. It celebrates the ones who share that cleansing, calm feeling when the crisp breeze of the waves washes over them. The ones whose blood pressure starts dropping the moment they pack their cars and join their families in the yearly trek to those small beach towns. The ones who love it so much they move up there permanently to enjoy Her waters everyday. The ones who wait all year until midsummer when She’s warm enough to swim in for hours. The ones who float on their backs, relishing the quiet of having their ears underwater, with the sun on their face, fully supported by Her.

My very first time publicly showing my artwork was at a fundraising event hosted at the furniture and interior design store I used to work at in Frankfort, Michigan - Betsie Bay Furniture.  It was the first time I was fully introduced to the dangers that threatened The Great Lakes. Our small beach town sits nestled just south of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and our shoreline is a coveted surfer’s paradise. Needless to say, the residents and tourists of the area hold The Great’s very near and dear to their hearts.

During this art show and in the years since, I began learning of several profound issues. I am by no means an expert in this area, simply curious and passionate about protecting the lakes I love so much.  A handful of the many issues I’ve done some research on are outlined below. Click the links to learn more information and to form your own opinions on the subject:

1. The Line 5 Oil Pipeline

“Built in 1953, Line 5 runs from Superior, WI, across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, directly through the Straits of Mackinac, and down to Sarnia, MI. The pipeline is made up of two 20" pipes that carry nearly 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids daily. Line 5 has failed 29 times since 1968, spilling at least 1.13 million gallons of oil. These 65-year-old pipelines run at depths between 100 and 270 feet in the Straits, directly exposed to the water. Built and operated by Canadian company, Enbridge Inc., less than 10% of the the oil Line 5 is used in Michigan. Line 5 threatens the drinking water supply for 5 million Michigan residents and the Pure Michigan economy…” “An oil spill could pollute up to 720 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.”

2. Biological Pollution

“The Clean Water Act [of 1972] took steps in battling industrial pollution. But it failed to deal with biological pollution, which today is causing damage at an alarming speed. Invasive species like sea lamprey and zebra mussels have destroyed ecosystems and set the stage for new disasters, like the toxic algae bloom that cut off Toledo, Ohio's drinking water in 2014.

3. Nestle Bottled Water

“Each day, 4.8 million bottles of water leave Nestlé’s packaging plant in Stanwood, Michigan and  end up neatly stacked one-by-one in gas station coolers across the Midwest. If you’ve sipped from an Ice Mountain-branded bottle in the last decade, you’ve sampled a tiny fraction of the 3.4 billion gallons that’s been pumped from nine wells in Mecosta and Osceola Counties.”

4. Keeping Invasive Species Out Of The Great Lakes.

“Once invasive species are established in the Great Lakes, it is nearly impossible to remove them. Preventing them from ever entering is the best way to protect the Great Lakes.”

5. Great Lakes Plastic Pollution

“As plastic pollution breaks down in the Great Lakes, microscopic pieces of plastic are found in the lakes and even treated drinking water.”

6. Waukesha, Wisconsin gets permission to draw water from Lake Michigan.

“The controversial decision to allow Waukesha, Wis., access to Lake Michigan water marks the first test case of the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement ratified by the lake states in 2008 to protect the Great Lakes from large-scale water diversions out of the Great Lakes basin.” Additional information also found at

And just some interesting, mind blowing fun facts on the great lakes can be found in this buzzfeed article! My favorite:

The shoreline of all the Great Lakes combined equals nearly 44% of the circumference of the planet!

14x18 Painting from the Lake Lovers series releasing November 1st

14x18 Painting from the Lake Lovers series releasing November 1st