Category Archives: Painting the Protected Lands (Leelanau Conservancy)

A Fall Guide to Leelanau


Processed with Snapseed.

We are really lucky this year. The fall colors are lasting, and as I type, on Oct. 23, color has not quite reached peek in a Leelanau. This is rare, and I think you should take advantage of it and book your trip north. There is still time. Today I heard we are at 70% color; my eye agrees. So good news, people: still lots of fall goodness to be had.  Here’s my must-do fall list for Leelanau.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m always influenced by my latest projects, and having just finished Project 24, a series where I painted on location at all 24 (26, by the time I finished) wineries in the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. And I just launched a project with the Leelanau Conservancy to paint their protected lands. (A side note: On the Conservancy’s website is a book you can not leave home without, “The Trails of M22: 40 of the Most Beautiful Paths along Michigan’s Most Beautiful Highway.” My copy is dog-eared and very loved after its first season.”
Processed with Snapseed.

Fall goodness off of M-22

That being said, here’s how I’d spend a perfect day in Leelanau:
I’d get up early and head down Bohemian Road towards Bohemian Beach. About halfway down the road, you will see swamp lands on both sides of the road, where the cold mornings create some amazing fog and mist. Teamed with fall colors, it’s spectacular.
Processed with Snapseed.

Moon rise over the swamplands on Bohemian Road

After you snap your photos, head on down to the beach for a stroll in the magical morning light. Take note of the pine trees lining the shore. They are very expressive and always bring a smile to my face.
You’ll be hungry now, and stoping at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor is how I like to start my days. It’s an experience and by no means a secret. It will be your new favorite dive that’s not really a dive at all.
Processed with Snapseed.
Then I’d head down M22 to Clay Cliffs for a hike. The lookout point over Lake Michigan is a breath catcher, and  the view over Lake Leelanau in fall is not to be missed. Enjoy!  I’m excited for you just thinking about it.
Processed with Snapseed.

The view of Lake Leelanau from Clay Cliffs

Now that you’re done hiking, you’ve earned a treat: It’s time to hit a few vineyards, many of which serve small plates along with their delicious libations. I’m not biased: They are all wonderful. A few with views that will show off fall colors include L.Mawby and 45 North; both of these vistas are protected by the Leelanau Conservancy. A few others where you can sip and enjoy the  fall color parade are Rove Estate, Black Star Farms and Blustone Vineyards. There are plenty more — just check a few out, and next time you’re up, a few more. They all have maps with all of the wineries listed. They are ALL worth the visit (just not in one day, ha).

Fall goodness at L. Mawby

The sun is setting earlier these days, but it’s no less extraordinary. Head over to Van’s Beach in Leland to watch the sunset and finish off your day with a meal to remember. You know the saying “October skies”? You’ll see why. But bundle up, it gets cold on Lake Michigan this time of year.
Processed with Snapseed.
Dinner time? This is foodie country, so you can’t really go wrong. Since you’re in Leland, the Riverside Inn is always exceptional, but there is so much good food in Leelanau — I recommend them all!
Now, have fun editing up those amazing photos, and patting yourself on the back for throwing caution to the wind and spending the day in Pure Leelanau! Cheers!
As always, I love hearing from you. I hope you’ll post your favorite things to do in the fall in the comments. And to see many more photos, art and adventure, follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

Painting the Protected Lands


Nature turns me into a little kid and a sage elder all at the same time. The wonder of discovery and the stillness and greatness of the infinite all at once. This latest project has me deeply steeped in the wonder of it all.

Here is a Leelanau insider tip: hike these protected lands. The Leelanau Conservancy has a full guide to all their properties and which ones you can hike and what to expect at their Leelanau office or online. They provide docent hikes, which are filled with nuggets of nature wisdom, and highly recommended. Sign up for their email and check their website for more information. They also have, available for purchase, the book “The Trails of M22” — this is your new hiking bible. The scoop on all the best trails, their locations, their lengths, what you’ll see, etc., is available on the Leelanau Conservancy website.

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of these magnificent properties and a look into how I work. It has never been enough for me to show up and paint a place; I want to know the story. I want to fall in love with the place through each step as I hike, feet touching the ground, and then again. Eyes wide open to discover its hidden treasures.

This fall, my big discovery is mushrooms. I will probably not paint them, but oh the joy of knowing they are there!



Ed and Karl, two rock star docents, patiently teaching me the stories of the land. The areas that were once part of Lake Michigan or other long-gone inland lakes.

Processed with Snapseed.

Teichner Preserve on Lime Lake

Processed with Snapseed.

Birding at Kehl Lake Nature Area

Processed with Snapseed.

DeYoung Natural Area

Processed with Snapseed.

Chippewa Run Nature Area


Whaleback Natural Area, as seen from South Beach in Leland.


A precious little jewel called a Witch’s Cap at Finton Natural Area


Lion’s Mane mushroom found at Clay Cliffs


More mushrooms found at Clay Cliffs on a docent-led hike.



The detail astounds me!