Ah, an afternoon at the beach. Can’t you just feel the sun warming your shoulders, as your feet relish the sand and the water that never really warms up? I saw this trio the last time I had my daughter at the beach at Fort Sheridan. I really liked the dog leading the parade with his big stick, just like a parade marshal should. The graceful way the mom moves between the child and the dog, linking them. The adorable child, concentrating as she navigates the waves and sand and rocks along the shore. I painted this very loosely, to suggest the casualness of a summer afternoon, and used saturated colors to capture the bright sunshine. It was a bit turbulent in the water that day, so I had a wonderful time with color and brushstroke to suggest that.
This is a place on the shore of Lake Michigan that has a rich history. It was a military fort for a long time~there are photos of soldiers in the water with their cavalry horses dating back to the civil war. The area was closed to the public right after the afternoon in question. The Lake County Forest Preserve and the Corps of Engineers are working together to stabilize the shoreline and the ravines that terminate at the shore. You may remember Ray Bradbury talking about ravines in his wonderful book, “Dandelion Wine”. His ravines are from Waukegan, a bit to the north of the ones at Fort Sheridan. Stabilizing them is a tricky balance, because they are home to unique suites of plants that actually need erosion to thrive. Too much erosion from above, from home building, for example, will of course sweep away the whole thing. Too little and the plants will begin to die.
You may be wondering why I started talking about ravines when this is clearly a beach painting… 🙂 The thing is, it is all connected, all part of the same system. A thriving shoreline helps keep the Lake healthy and clean. Involving the nearby homeowners gives them a sense of connection, too, helping them understand how their actions affect the whole. The beach isn’t just a place to spend the day. It is part of their home.