A Stroll Down the Beach Turned Into a Painting

Golden Hour at Sunset, 24 x 36, oil on linen by Susan Pragaspathy

Last November, a stroll down the beach with my kids turned into a painting called the Golden Hour Before Sunset which started my series of paintings called No Footprints. Since I was a child playing and walking on this shore, I have been delighted in the fleeting moments when there are no other human footprints on it. This is how I found it last November after an autumnal storm. However we were surprised by the amount and size of the abandoned junk laying around on the beach. 

The idea of taking a relaxing walk turned into a rescue mission saving the shore from trash and lost junk that had been churned out from a recent storm.  We carried large, pieces of plastic and garbage up and over a 300ft dune to take them on a short drive to the trash container. It was not an easy task. Below are photos from that day.

SusanPragaspathy_StrollDowntheBeachPainting.jpg
SusanPragaspathy_StrollDowntheBeachPainting.jpg

By the time we finally took a walk in the evening, disillusionment had set in about what lies embedded in the dune sand and below the surface of the water. In fact my older son lost interest completely in taking a walk after the cleanup efforts while my younger son still wanted to play in the sand. This is not just any beach. I've walked on it with four generations of my family since I was born. Many of us who live along the lakeshore take time to keep it liter free and like our neighbors, we have noticed the increasing amount of junk that washes up.  In some unexpected way, my younger son relished in his clean up efforts and is strongly aware of what kind of garbage we have to keep out of the Great Lakes.

This shore is deep in my senses from playing in the sand as a child to swimming in the lake and sleeping on the beach. I've even dreamt about this particular spot off and on for ages of giant waves plundering the coast and have imagined writing children's books based on its habitat. In real life, I've seen 40 foot waves in November and in calmer seasons, I've played with a baby turtle who walked up the calm shore which is a rare sight to behold.

Like a comparison between dreaming and wakefulness, art can illuminate real life. It's my desire to show these fleeting and beautiful moments of no footprints on the shore. Art can show us what we are capable of and in this case it's a healthier shore and Great Lake. 

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Happy Painting! -Susan

 From a distance the beach can look mostly clean depending on if there has been a storm. If I made this photo smaller you'd miss the layers of garbage in the sand dune. There is a ballon with a string buried at the top and center along with tiny pieces of plastic and styrofoam layered along with all the plastic bottles and cans on top of the sand. 

From a distance the beach can look mostly clean depending on if there has been a storm. If I made this photo smaller you'd miss the layers of garbage in the sand dune. There is a ballon with a string buried at the top and center along with tiny pieces of plastic and styrofoam layered along with all the plastic bottles and cans on top of the sand. 

Thank you for reading! The big lake is such a source of inspiration for painters. Have you painted it and/or what inspires you to paint water? .... because its not easy painting water.