Monday, July 30, 2012

Frog Party

"Frog Party" -- oil on canvas 40x50" -- Margie Guyot

As I threw this vintage tablecloth down onto my work surface, I wondered what I had in my treasure trove that was green.  Why, my frog teapot set, of course!  I've painted it several times in the past.  The teapot and sugar/creamer came from a garage sale in my old neighborhood of Farmington Hills.  Then I found the pitcher on eBay!  And by now I'm sure you've guessed that I love frogs.

But I've learned NOT to tell everybody that I love frogs.  That can backfire.  Then people start giving me all kinds of frogs -- and there are a lot of pitiful, crappy-looking frogs!  No, I like only certain frogs.  Like there is "tacky but cool" and then there is "tacky but pathetic".  There IS a difference.

The green problem solved, the next search was for "things orange".  Once again, that slot was filled by my vintage orange-striped glasses.  I've painted them several times and they're tricky!  The stripes wiggle and the widths are not all the same.  But they're addictive to paint, kind of like Monet's haystacks. 

By some miracle, my orange tiger lilies were blooming fabulously this year.  It's been hot and dry.  The deer -- naughty little things! -- love chewing all the leaves and buds off.  I've tried to keep up with spraying the Liquid Fence.  Still, the deer manage to squirrel away with some of my flowers.  I cut off a stalk and used a wire frog in another favorite: the frog vase from the Ann Arbor Art Fair.   The potter team of Rita Meech and Terry Oss created this.  Here's a link to their page:  I love everything they do!

I always start a painting by first lightly penciling in the crosshairs.  Then I look through my little view-finder to decide what is in the exact center of the composition.  From there, it's a rather tedious process of continually looking through the viewfinder and comparing sizes of objects and their placement.  I use my paintbrush like a sort of ruler, comparing the width of objects to others.  This is one place where it's a test of being able to control one's panic! 

But still, compared to weeding the garden in 90+ degree weather, with biting mosquitoes and deer flies, I'll take the drawing-in task every time!

Because flowers die so quickly, once I had established the basic placement of a few main objects, I immediately concentrated on painting the lily bloom.  By the next day, lily bloom #2 was open.  I left this painting with only 1 open bloom, though.  Like trying to paint constanly-changing shadow patterns in the landscape, I tend to nail the initial idea down and stick with it.  Chasing shadows (or opening/dying blossoms) could drive a painter berserk!

Last year a gallery had told me they loved my work BUT some elements of it they found "disturbing".  They told me they didn't want to see anything like frog teapots, deer antlers, stuffed fish, etc.  And they loved the complex compostions, BUT they wanted small paintings.  Yikes!  I tried to tow the line for them, but even so, they only sold one or two pieces of mine.  Then they emailed me, saying "come get your stuff".  Ha ha!  I guess you could call this my rebellion piece. 

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