Beaver Island Sketchbook

I didn’t visit Beaver Island last year, the first time in fourteen years that I hadn’t been there for at least the month of July, so this trip was a special treat. My house, which I sold two years ago, i found had been razed and replaced by a huge two-storey job with several livingrooms and as many bathrooms.

My friends said they cried when my house came down–we had made so many memories there. I’d held numerous writing workshops, parties, and a meditation workshop there. I’d put up friends, Buddhists monks, and a medicine woman–Keewaydinoquay– before I turned my guest room into a bookstore, and after that a gallery called Beaver Island Arts. I’d learned to paint there, sold my art and books for years, met many interesting people.

But now, although my place is gone, the island with its many natural wonders is still there. Even on foot I was able to reach my favorite beaches, woodlands, wetlands, sweet grass patches, and sunset views. The last day I was offered a car, so I got to spend a perfect summer afternoon on Donegal Bay, my favorite swimming beach in the world.

And I hung out at the Beaver Island Lodge, where the owners, Ray and Nina Cole, always let me sit and paint either out on the lawn or at one of their lovely patio tables overlooking Lake Michigan and Garden Island. Several of my paintings hang inside their lovely dining room and my Lake Effects posters, both beautifully framed, welcome visitors at the front desk.

While I painted the lake, one of my favorite views, yet again (I have done it often at different times of day), a flock of wild turkeys crossed the lawn and then reappeared an hour later on the beach. I’d never seen turkeys on a beach before, and earlier that morning I witnessed another Beaver Island first for me –a pileated woodpecker.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

Kawkawlin River Clean-Up

I don’t do much but function as the photographer, artist, and general recorder of things, occasionally fishing out a beer bottle, plastic trash bag, or even rooting out a tire or two from the cattails. As last year, I was a passenger in Tom (known as Toad) Starkweather’s dingy, The Toadtanic, featuring a 2 horsepower motor that threw up at the slightest contact with the pervasive weeds.

This year I tried something new: a new friend who buys for the Saugatuck Historical Museum in Saugatuck, Michigan, Judy A., gave me a lovely Arches 6″ x 10″ sketch pad called a Carnet de Voyage Travel Book. It’s 15, 140-lb. pages easily take watercolor sketches on both sides. Judy suggested I use an extra-fine sharpie to draw, which amazingly does not run, even when painted on top of.

I find I prefer to paint first and draw around the color shapes and then write on top of that, but on the river everything went by so fast that I drew first and painted afterwards. So far I’ve only painted two: one of the river and one of our friend Bill, who joined us for the first half-hour. Please note that I did these in a rocking boat! Those two big men plus me in the boat made quite a load, but there were places so shallow that I got out and pulled those two guys myself!

Click on a picture to enlarge it.