September 20, 2014 - Marta Hepler Drahos, Traverse City Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — Joan Richmond attended graduate school about 50 miles from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and often passed by the park on her way to Chicago.
Yet she never visited the park along the southern tip of Lake Michigan, until now.
Richmond, a watercolorist currently focusing on “gouache” or opaque watercolors, is spending two weeks as artist-in-residence at the park. The program offers professional artists the opportunity to live and work along the lakeshore in exchange for presenting a public program and donating a piece of art created during their stay.
“I didn’t know that this was here and how beautiful it is,” said the artist, one of six in residence at the park this year. “It’s just been an eye-opening experience. Now I want to tell the world.”
Richmond, 60, retired from Northwestern Michigan College in August after 10 years on its adjunct faculty. She exhibits her work at galleries in Glen Arbor, Traverse City and Harbor Springs and won third place in this summer’s Glen Arbor Art Association plein air “Paint Out.”
She often paints at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where she experiences the effects of light first-hand and translates her visual and emotional responses to the nature around her directly to paper or canvas. It’s the same way she works at Indiana Dunes, though the region is markedly different, she said.
“The dunes are smaller and more gentle and somehow Lake Michigan seems bigger,” she said, adding that she was struck by the “incredible” way the dunes reflect light. “That doesn’t make them less beautiful. They’re just more like whisper dunes than screaming dunes.”