How Were the Great Lakes Named?

Great Lakes art

The Great Lakes are five freshwater lakes located in the central-eastern part of North America. Most people know this, but few also know the origin of their names.

Lake Superior

Its name is merely a reflection of its huge size - 82,100 square km and 12,100 cubic km, but probably also of its position, north of Lake Huron (“lac supérieur” in French means “upper lake”).

Lake Michigan

Its name comes from the Ojibwa Indian “mishigami”, which means "large lake." Lake Michigan is actually only the third largest of the Great Lakes, but its size is still impressive and it also has an unusual water flow.

Lake Huron

Lake Huron shares the same body of water with Lake Michigan and is the second largest (59,600 square km) of the Great Lakes. It was named after the Hurons (Wyandot Indians) who lived there.

Lake Ontario

In the language of Wyandot Indians, “Ontario” means "lake of shining water". Located at the base of Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario is the smallest of the five lakes (only 18,960 square km), but it is deep and holds about 1,600 cubic km.

Lake Erie

Its name comes from “erielhonan”, which in the Iroquoian language means "long tail". It has to do with the lake`s shape. Although it is slightly larger than Lake Ontario, it has the smallest water volume of the Great Lakes (only 484 cubic km).

Look for beautiful Great Lakes art created by Cap’n Jim Clary at Cap’n Jim’s Gallery in St. Clair, Michigan.



Common Themes of Maritime Art

maritime art

 Maritime art is a category that includes various creations where the sea is the main character. Maritime art has a special atmosphere in which the sky and the water are the most important elements.

Exquisite maritime art has appeared since the Middle Ages. It was very popular especially in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The subjects of this genre are landscapes that include ships in estuaries, beach scenes, storms, boats in their fight with huge waves, or boats on quiet waters, predisposing to calm, meditation and relaxation.

In the Romantic Period there was a reorientation in the style of maritime painting. Representative for this period is Le Radeau de La Méduse, created by Théodore Géricault between 1817-1819. The very large painting (491 cm x 716 cm) represents the moments after the shipwreck of the French frigate La Méduse, on July 5, 1816. Of the 147 people saved on rafts, only 15 survived during the 13 days on the sea, until they were found.

One of the great 19th-century marine art creators was the Russian Ivan Aivazovski, who really loved the sea, and this is obvious in each of his approximately 6,000 paintings. His favorite themes are sea storms, but also historic events, such as the Battle of Navarino in 1827, which he transposed into a painting in 1846.

Celebrating Mother's Day at the Great Lakes

Happy Mothers Day!

If you plan to take your mom on a trip for Mothers Day, the Great Lakes are a wonderful destination providing many outdoor opportunities to enjoy your time together.

The Great Lakes offer hiking, diving, kayaking ,boating, gorgeous hiking trails, silent forests, pristine waters, and a wide variety of wildlife.

If you prefer a more formal way to celebrate mom, you can visit some of the towns on our lighthouse-peppered islands, exploring cities like Chicago or Milwaukee, with their superb architecture, beaches, shopping, restaurants, dynamic museums (The Automotive Museum and the Henry Ford Museum are just a few examples) and a vibrant nightlife. And don’t forget to visit the many art galleries to find exceptional pieces of nautical artwork!


Awesome Spots and Sights You Need to See Around the Great Lakes

From cities to beaches and from islands to hiking trails that span for miles, the Great Lakes have just about everything you’d need for an entertaining and relaxing vacation. Some of the following spots will definitely dazzle you, while others will outright amaze you and make you want to plan all your vacations on the beaches of the Great Lakes: 

·       The beach on Lake Michigan will offer you one of the most incredible places in the world for viewing the sunset. Here you can visit with your spouse for a memorable and romantic time spent watching the sunset and enjoying the hospitality of the locals. You may also want to bring some water colors and try a hand in creating a piece of Lake Michigan themed nautical artwork.

·       The Sleeping Bear Natural Lakeshore is one of the best places to go to if you enjoy solitude and long walks. Here you can definitely lose yourself on the 65-mile long shoreline, and you can take some breathtaking photos as well.

·       Finally, the shallow waters of Copper Harbor are a great place for fishing. If you want to relax and avoid the world for a few days, this is just the right place to do it. Even though Lake Superior’s water is not the warmest in the world, you can’t really find a more pristine and eye-catching, naturally beautiful place in the entire area of the Great Lakes.

nautical artwork

Learn About Geography the Fun Way: Great Lakes Trivia You’ve Never Even Heard

Geography is one of the most beautiful subjects on earth, and it definitely doesn’t have to be boring if you know how to look at facts and how to find unique facts about common geographical places like the Great Lakes. The following trivia facts about the Great Lakes will make you wonder whether you should rewrite your children’s geography textbooks yourself: 

·       Driving around the lakes would take an enormous amount of time to complete. If you’re looking for a fun and extremely long road trip, then this is it. Going around the Great Lakes by car will provide you with an impressive 6,500 miles of fun on the road.

·       An unlikely fire that started in 1969 on the Cuyahoga River was actually the catalyzing trigger that spawned a new movement towards clearing up the waterway responsible for feeding Lake Erie and starting a series of environmental reforms that have transformed the way we look at the Great Lakes today.

·       Do you know how many islands the Great Lakes contain? The actual number is even higher than 35,000. The biggest of them is Manitoulin in Lake Huron, which is considered to this day to be the largest freshwater island in the world, measuring 1,068 square miles.

Find wonderful Great Lakes art at interesting galleries found throughout the Great Lakes area.

Great Lakes art

The Creative Way to Learn About History: Start Painting It!

If you were like me in school, you probably thought about history as a pretty boring subject. However, as everything, history can show its true value if it’s regarded through the right “lenses.” And there are no better ways to see something than through the eyes of an artist. 

When we look at the figures and dates associated with a battle like the Battle of Hastings, we can’t really imagine the actual scenes and the brutality of war. Also, when we read about kings, treaties and pacts between various allies, it’s hard to imagine how everything went down and where the meetings took place. So history can get boring pretty fast if all you have is information. 

historical paintings - marine art

However, when you start repainting some paintings depicting famous battles, scenes or personalities from history, things will start changing pretty fast. Not only will you feel like you’re actually there, taking part in a historic scene that came to life, but you’ll actually start getting addicted to that feeling. 

Also, painting historic scenes can help you learn the facts and figures a lot more easily too. When the painting is suggestive enough and tells the story of a certain battle or scene quite faithfully, then it’s easy to associate the scene with the information you’ve read in your history book.

Painting historical marine art, illustrations of famous ships, shipwrecks, or battle scenes will also give you historical references and timelines.

Exploring the Art of Painting: Why Are Ships so Popular Among Painters?

If you walk into a pub or a restaurant by the port, chances are you’ll find a painting with a large ship or a boat showing right in the middle. However, if you walk into a painting class or walk in on one of your family members practicing their painting skills, then you might actually find the very same scene. So, why is it that maritime art and ships are such a popular topic among painters? 

maritime art

From an artistic standpoint, the sea and the ships that navigate it actually carry a lot of weight. The uneven motion of the sea and the smooth edges of a ship’s contour makes it possible to almost capture the movement of the waves and the ship that passes through them in even a beginner’s painting or drawing. Simply put, ships look very artistic almost regardless of who is drawing them. 

Another reason why maritime art is so popular has to do with symbols. From a symbolic perspective, ships carry even more weight. They can be regarded as symbols of life and of the artist’s journey through the troubled ocean of life. They can also be seen as a person’s willingness or determination to take charge of their life and navigate that ocean despite the fact that they are constantly faced with agitated waves and the peril of being lost at sea.

Popular Maritime Sayings


The sea lore is rich and provides endless inspiration to artists creating memorable nautical prints, writers, artists, filmmakers and even regular people. In fact, although you may not be aware of it, you may be using some saying and phrases in everyday conversations that originated aboard ships. 

While the original context may be lost or irrelevant, these sayings stay fresh and meaningful even today. And so we keep using them. But which one are they, and what is their story? 

1. “Showing One’s True Colors”

We use this saying to describe someone who reveals its true character after playing a role in order to achieve certain benefits (a promotion at work, getting acquainted with an influential person). 

The origin of this saying comes from the days of battles at sea. It was not unheard of for a ship to bear the flags and pennants of the enemy in order to penetrate their harbor and then reveal their true flags (color) and open a devastating attack. 

2. “To Be Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”

This saying describes an impossible situation, where no acceptable solution can be found. For sailors, the devil was the name of the seam at the bottom of the ship, from bow to stern. This seam was prone to breaking and leaking – thus the sailors had to choose between waiting to be drowned by water entering the ship and jumping in the ocean. 

3. “Learn the Ropes”

This is the advice a new hire is given – to become familiar with the work procedures and company culture as soon as possible. For sailors, learning the ropes was very important, because they were used for handling the various types of sails. During a storm, knowing how to handle the ropes properly made the difference between life and death.