Friday, September 13, 2013


"Peaches" -- oil on canvas 30x30" -- Margie Guyot
Late August and the peaches are ripe here in northern Michigan.  I got these at King's Market, on US31, between Eastport and Elk Rapids.  Since tree-ripened peaches are notorious for attracting clouds of fruit flies (!), I worked as quickly as possible. 
Luckily, I happened to have a perfectly-suited vintage tablecloth, in shades of blue.  Years ago I realized that the paintings that seemed to have to most visual impact were the ones done in contrasting colors: red and green, yellow and lavender, etc.  So yes, it was a conscious decision to pair the orange peaches with the blue cloth. 
One of the most fascinating things is to throw a vintage tablecloth onto the table and let it fall into wrinkles and folds.  Then try to paint it. 
I noticed that the peaches changed color the longer they sat there.  They were considerably redder as they aged.  And it being "up north, along Lake Michigan", it was frequently cloudy.  Which greatly affects the colors and shadows.  So it's always kind of a guessing game with painting still lifes up here!
Yes, I did manage to finish this painting ahead of the fruit fly invasion!  The peaches became a pie.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


"Caladiums" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

Ever see something that made you want to jump and shout?  When I saw these at Pine Hill Nursery, I wanted to do cartwheels (ha ha -- wouldn't that be a sight?).  The hot pink was irresistible. 

I'll show you a photo of my studio setup.  99.9% of the time I work directly from life. 

Some years ago I'd bought a tube of "Aurora Pink", by Shinhan, a Korean paint company.  It was perfect for this painting.  It's a very intense, unnatural hot pink.  And I was almost out of it.  Nobody seemed to carry it anymore.  I did a Google search and finally found a seller -- on eBay.  The seller was in Korea.  3 tubes of it are now enroute.  A lifetime supply, I figure. 

Some colors (such as pink) cannot be mixed!  Mix red and white and it turns into a muddy pink. 

I did have a little help now and then from Picasso, my adoring cat.  You may recognize him from my previous painting, "Cosmic":

Notice how Picasso's white fur reflects the pink?  This has not been Photoshopped.  That's another reason why most plein air landscape painters wear black shirts when painting.  The light bounces off shirts onto the canvas.  It can be a huge problem if one is wearing a brightly colored shirt.

Every painting has its challenges.  The hardest part on this one was the pink bowl (upper right).  I've painted it several times.  And it hasn't gotten any easier! 


"Cosmic" -- 60x40" -- oil on canvas -- Margie Guyot

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted anything.  I had some health issues going on.  But I'm feeling fine now!  This painting, "Cosmic", has a lot of symbolism going on.  Picasso (the black & white cat) is lying flat-out, with a glazed look on his face, in a Cosmic Catnip stupor.  Well, I had days of that on Oxycodone.  Thank goodness all that's a thing of the past! 

My usual method of painting is to set up a still life and paint what I see.  But just try to get cats to hold a pose!  I had to refer to a photo I'd snapped.  And the night-blooming cereus (the big flowers at the top) only stays open for 1 night a year.  I'd taken photos of my plant in bloom, so that was the other photographic reference I had to use.  Everything else was painted from life.

This kind of painting (I guess you could call it surreal) is the hardest type for me to do.  I'd made a little pencil sketch before starting, but it was only a guess:

As I painted, I had to make choices about what fabric to use and how to arrange it.  A stop at a grocery store yielded a lucky find: bright gladiolas, which I love.  But how to arrange them?  I had to be mindful of the angle of the viewer: looking down at the cats.  So I had to figure out how to incorporate the tall gladiolas (gladioli?) that would make sense.  And how to position them to make the painting "flow":

So while some people might see the cats and dismiss it as  "sentimental schmaltz", they're not understanding the fact that it's symbolic of my healing experience.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Blue Spotted Vase

"Blue Spotted Vase" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

After painting the last still life, which was predominantly in blue tones, I felt chilled to the bone.  I had to do something in fiery red to warm up! 

The blue spotted vase was a garage sale find.  Last fall I stopped at a garage sale in Elk Rapids and there it was, waiting for me.  Only $4 -- such a bargain!

The wild-patterned silk scarf is one I've had for a number of years.  Somehow it's survived the move from Farmington Hills to my studio in northern Michigan.  The mice haven't discovered it yet, thank goodness!  Who knows how many years old it is.  I just love it for the interesting design!

In the back, on the right, is a hand-blown glass pitcher that I'd found at a shop in Pontiac.  In reality, there's a huge crack running across, but I just can't bear to part with it. 

If you've followed my paintings, you'll recognize the striped glasses.  I love striped glasses and have them in several colors.  They just fascinate me.  And don't think that because I've painted them a number of times that they're easy to paint!  They're like Sirens -- irresistable!  One trick I've discovered is to paint the background first, using Liquin, and once it's dry, paint the back side of the glass.  Let it dry, then finish up by painting the front side.  The stripes are so tricky, usually I have to do some wiping-out.  And if the under layer is dry, then wiping-out is so much easier!

I used the same technique for painting the blue vase: painting the backside first, letting it dry, then finishing up on the front side.  Challenging, yes, but it's so much more interesting than washing floors!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Striped Cat Teapot on Batik Shawl

"Striped Cat Teapot on Batik Shawl" -- oil on canvas 18x18" -- Margie Guyot
Here it is, dead of winter in Northern Michigan, and the temperature's in the teens.  So why not paint a "springy" type painting with daffodils (OK, so they're silk!) and a bright batik sarong?  I love this teapot (I'd used it in a recent painting already) and the whole thing kind of brightened things up around here this week.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Granny Smiths on an Orange Morning Glory Cloth

"Granny Smiths on an Orange Morning Glory Cloth" -- oil on canvas 22x28" -- Margie Guyot
Everybody thinks of Granny Smith apples as being pure green.  Well, not always!  I recently found a bag of locally-grown ones, produced by Friske's Orchards, that had a surprising amount of red tones.  I knew I'd have to use them in a painting.  Notice the bruise on the apple on the far left? 
The vintage tablecloth is rather unusual, too.  I'd been rifling through a big stack of tablecloths at an antique show in Petoskey when I spied it.  All the others were the usual, predictable combinations of red and blue -- and they all looked alike.  I just loved the orange tones!
I always paint under natural light, setting up my still life compositions on a big table next to the windows on the south side of my studio.  Some artists love the constant, cool light of a north window, but I love the intensity of the south light, with its strong sunlight and shadow patterns.  Which you don't really see here this time.  Alas, northern Michigan skies are overcast pretty much all the time in winter!  Some days I had to quit painting at 3 PM, it was so dark I couldn't see the colors properly.
Apples are so much fun to paint!  So reflective!  And I love the vintage tablecloths.  The folds and wrinkles are challenging, which I enjoy.  Why waste time painting stuff that's too easy?       

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Pink Cyclamen on Striped Horse Blanket"

"Pink Cyclamen on Striped Horse Blanket" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

It's surprising how long I've managed to keep this pink cyclamen alive!  It's been what -- 6 weeks? -- since I bought it on sale at Pine Hill Nursery. Every once in a while I'll come into the studio to find it horribly wilted, flowers all laying down.  I'll give it some water and within hours, it looks bright and perky again.  So I just had to use it in another painting before it finally croaks.

My painter friend, Al Maciag, gave me some horse blankets he'd picked up in a garage sale.  I liked this one because of the pink stripes.  But I quickly realized how difficult this painting would be!  I always love to toss the fabric down onto the work table and let the folds fall naturally.  Just try painting stripes on folds!  It got to be pretty challenging.

Painting lots of leaves is not my favorite thing to do, but there's not much else to do up here in the far north, in winter.  No TV reception, gardening season is over, so it becomes a choice of "do I want to clean house" or paint.