Beach Mitten

mixed media of Lake Michigan

Since I am no longer a resident of Michigan, when we travel there to visit friends and family I inevitably visit stores selling Michigan merchandise. On the last trip, I saw a lot of the inspirational quote + shape of MI artwork. As I've been playing with watercolor, I thought I would try my hand at mixing some colors together on the paper.

I ended up with most of the Great Lakes looking decent enough, but I wanted to do something different than a quote or motto. Leaving it as-is was one idea, but then I remembered a gift my mother had sent along with my sister.

Watercolor image of The Great Lakes

2017 was an emotional year and I wasn't sure that I was ready to face people or be social. So instead of using air miles or points to fly to MI in the summer, I used them to fly my sister to Canada. Aside from her smiling face and compassion, she brought some sand from the beach on Lake Michigan. I found my gift and did some research to find out how to get it on my watercolor paper.

I imagine some acrylic gel would be the best option, but a helpful woman at the art store said she probably wouldn't use it on anything under 300lb paper. Oops. So, I decided to try some Elmer's Glue-All. I used a scrap piece of my watercolor paper and glued some leftover beach sand that my spouse had from her collection. I mixed the sand and glue in one spot and on another I dumped sand onto the glue. The dump method looked better.

Watercolor of The Great Lakes and Michigan made of beach sand

It was a process of adding glue, adding sand, drying, dumping any leftover sand, and repeat. Afterwards, I decided that I really needed the Upper Peninsula to complete the image. I recalled the one time that I may have actually been to Lake Superior, the beach was pretty rocky. My partner's beach sand collection leftovers saved the day again. Below is the completed work.

Small pebbles making the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

I worked on this on and off for a couple of weeks. I struggled with my anxiety coupled with the perfectionism as I stepped outside my box to work with sand and rocks. Then I just thought, "It doesn't have to be perfect. I'm making this because I want to, not for anybody else, an assignment, or a blue ribbon." Once I let go, I was free to make mistakes and learn. If it turned out poorly, I could always try again.

Now, I really have no idea what to do with it. I suppose I can frame it and gift it to somebody? If you have ideas or need for some dirty artwork by me, send me a message.

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