Monthly Archives: May 2015

Project 24: Where a Passion for the Land, Wine and Art Collide

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Shazam … and Project 24 is off and running.

It was four years ago that I started painting the Michigan wine trail, and the first vineyard I visited was L. Mawby. And so it was that I launched Project 24 at the same vineyard with the same gracious host, Larry Mawby.

 

This morning, as Larry spoke of his love for this peninsula, the land and his winery, a prevailing thought was about helping people connect to and the experience land. Wine, like landscape painting, is in fact about nature: every vine, tree and blade of grass. When you care for and tend the vines, or set up your easel and study the land, you experience the beauty intimately, on a deeper level — a level you hope to share with others. That is the premise of Project 24, and likewise, it is also the hope at L. Mawby’s vineyard.

Walking through the vineyards on a sunny early summer morning, as Larry talked about which grape varietals were planted where and why,  with the first vines dating back to 1973, it was truly a “pinch me” experience. I love this history, the beauty, the land and the graciousness of my host. Walking through the vineyards, one foot in front of the other, taking in each detail. Becoming — if just for a moment — part of the landscape, feeling the heat of the sun, the wetness of the grass, the vines beginning to bud. It takes me deeper into the painting experience; the desire to paint is strong.

And so … I spent the afternoon painting plein air, and did a few sketches and studies. It is with great enthusiasm that I look forward to diving deeper into that breathtaking  landscape. Truly its beauty rivaled by none.

As I was packing up my paints at L. Mawby, the rain began to softly fall. And so any hopes of photographing, videoing and painting at my next stop, Bel Lago, were thwarted. However, that didn’t stop us from having a rockin’ little time in the cellar, barrel tasting.

Tasting the wine that comes from the land does, after all, inspire art. Winemaker Blake Lougheed took me inside the passion and process that he and owner Charlie Edson put into creating their wines. Truly, it’s an art form tended to with care and a lot of heart.

I’ll have to save painting at this winery for another day, but my experience there today was rich with fodder for inspiration!

Project 24 is off to a great start, and I’m loving every minute on the Michigan wine trail!

Introducing … Project 24

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To make you look at things in a different light. To reveal what’s beyond the visible and enter the spirit of a place. Going right to that feeling you get when you’re in a sacred space of beauty. This is my job as an artist, and it’s the premise behind my latest project: visiting all 24 wineries of the Leelanau Peninsula and creating art that represents the spirit of each place.

As an American landscape painter, recording the landscape and begging viewers to look at it differently in an effort to honor the land ties back to the role artists played in the founding of the national parks. And it’s a tradition I’m honored to take part in.

The Leelanau Peninsula is truly a “heart place” to many, including myself, and it is with the deepest love of the land that I set out on this journey.

This is a landscape that needs to be seen, a beauty in our own backyards that is rivaled by none.

I hope you will come with me along the way and enjoy this land and its people with me!