Tuesday, December 21, 2010


"Gnome" -- oil on canvas 24x12" -- Margie Guyot

I love gnomes!  But only really cool gnomes.  Not stupid gnomes!  This one was found in Meijer's a couple years ago.  The red poinsettia doily was a resale shop find.  

Those glass ornaments have been in my family for many years.  In reality, I was holding the bulbs in my fingers when painting them.  One slipped out and shattered in a million pieces the floor.  I went out into the woods and clipped off a small branch and added that later. 

White Poinsettias

"White Poinsettias" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

I'm a notorious poinsettia-killer.  I don't know why they die so quickly for me.  So I had to move FAST and paint these in a hurry!  This is another type of painting where it's important to control one's panic.  So many leaves!  So easy to get lost and quit in frustration.  It must be all the years on the assembly line at Ford that has taught me to be patient and to "keep on going".  

I love a good, mussed-up tablecloth!  I used to avoid folds and wrinkles in fabric; now I find them addictive.  Hey -- up north, here in the "hinterlands" -- what else is there to do?  Housework?  Ach.  Better to paint.  

At the end of each painting session I had to remove the poinsettias.  There are 2 young cats in my studio that love to rip apart anything "dangly".  And it goes without saying that each night the kitties took great pains to totally rearrange the fabric.  Oh well -- they're adorable.  I have to forgive them.

Those glass ornaments are old as God.  They were old when I was a kid, back in Iowa.  The strand of colored lights was added at the end.  I'm still not entirely sure this painting is finished.  Calling it done for now.

Monday, December 6, 2010


"Butterflies" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

Some years ago while walking through a gallery out in Montana, I realized that the paintings that "grabbed" me were ones done in predominantly complementary colors.  My last post was of a painting I'd done in mostly reds and greens.  Both these paintings began as a decision about color.

In reality, both pieces of fabric were shades of red.  I used artistic license to change them to orange.  The poinsettia was really pink.  I love poinsettias by the way and always manage to kill them within a couple weeks.  I just don't have the touch for them.  One of my friends has plants she's had for years.  Go figure.

The blue butterfly glasses are of 60's vintage.  I found them in an antique store up north.  Love the blue shadows they cast!  The Lucite box with butterflies is also from a resale shop.  To get the blue to "glow", I first painted it white.  After it dried, I gave it coats of ultramarine blue mixed with Liquin.

One artist I was taking a workshop from said (rather snottily), "Obviously this comes easy to you!"  We'd been painting landscapes at the time.  I said no -- it's really tough, but I try to control my panic(!) and figure it out, bit by bit.  I'm far too impatient to take a slide and project and trace onto the canvas.  I always paint directly from life and wipe-outs are a part of it.  

The first painting class I had was out at Scottsdale Artists School.  The teacher was Clyde Aspevig.  He gave each of us a simple, cardboard cutout viewfinder.  I don't know how many people continued using theirs after the class, but I wore mine out.  Using a viewfinder really helps find the composition.  Now I use an adjustable viewfinder.  When I start a painting, I first use a yardstick to lightly draw in the "crosshairs" on the canvas.  Then I look through the viewfinder and determine what sits on the crosshairs.  I relate everything to that.  Without a viewfinder, my composition would end up running off the canvas!

Another essential thing is the principles I learned in Betty Edwards' classic, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain".  During a big layoff from my job at Ford (1980), somebody loaned me a copy.  I saw how the high school students made such dramatic improvements after 3 months of her instruction.  That was enough to make me do every exercise in the book.  I hadn't drawn or painted in over 15 years.  By the time I finished the book, voila!  I could draw!

People say they just want to paint.  They say they don't care about drawing.  Well, the skills you learn in Betty's book are applicable to painting as well.  Everything boils down to measurements and comparisons.  You learn to look at something and ask: is it bigger? is it smaller?  is it at an angle? is it warmer or cooler? lighter or darker?  The exercises teach you to ignore that inner voice that wants to scream it looks horrible!
Patience, patience!  It's all just measurements and comparing.

PS -- the ice cubes!  I added those at the end, on a whim.  They were so fun!  Will have to do more with those....

Monday, November 22, 2010


"Fiesta!" -- oil on canvas -- 40x60" -- Margie Guyot

Last summer I snagged this Mexican sombrero at a yard sale in Glen Arbor.  I just knew it would end up in a painting.  It's a velvety-red, trimmed in gold and silver, with silver sequins.  Very heavy -- I don't know how the guys can stand to wear them!

With the red sombrero as a starting point, I knew I wanted this still life to have a red-green theme.  Years ago I realized that the paintings that seemed to "sing" to me, when I'd walk into a gallery, were the ones that made a big use of the complementary colors.  So I try to do that -- when I think of it.  

Aren't those cool pumpkins?  I'd bought them earlier this fall from 2 young boys in Elk Rapids.  I'd just used the striped one in a still life a couple weeks ago and thought I'd like to use it again -- before it rots.  The vintage, reindeer glasses were found in an antique store up in Pellston.  Green-striped afghan from a resale shop in Ellsworth.  It's just endless -- the possibilities from all kinds of junk!

Every year I bring my geraniums inside and set them on the studio windowsill.  Why buy new?  Some of them are 5 years old.  

What to put in the space under the table?  It's always a question nagging me.  This time I painted a portrait of "Miss America", one of my studio cats.  She (really a he!) was named for her pretty, little face.  I had to hold her in the crook of my left arm, baby doll style, to get a good look at her face while I painted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Striped Pumpkin

"Striped Pumpkin" -- oil on canvas -- 24x30" -- Margie Guyot

The striped pumpkin was found at Oryana, a health food store in Traverse City.  It was horribly expensive: $8!  But it was way cool.  I had to have it for a painting!  

I found the green glass owl pitcher at a resale consignment shop in Charlevoix.  I just knew it would be fun to use in a painting.  To get the bright, green glow, I painted the area in pure white paint with Liquin (to help it dry faster).  Then I gave it a thin glaze of cadmium yellow and emerald green, mixed with Liquin.  The green light seemed to bounce off a lot of things.  Even bits of the feather in front and the lighter parts of the ceramic owl planter.

One thing I really love to do in still lifes is to show reflected lights and colors.  The clear glass pumpkin was great.  It just showed everything. 

If you're familiar with my still lifes, you might recognize the green striped glass.  I've used it in a number of paintings.  And no, painting it hasn't gotten any easier!  But it's just so interesting, I have to add it. 

While setting this one up in the studio, I noticed my dying sunflowers out in front.  Decided they'd look good in this setup.  

And those apples were really starting to turn soggy!  Figured I'd use them in this painting and then give them to my chickens.  Apples are so fun to paint.  I love the colors and reflections!  I could paint apples (or any fruit or veggie) all day long. 

Usually it's overcast here along Lake Michigan.  Luckily, the sun came out yesterday and today, so I carefully watched the shadow patterns.  It's the shadow shapes and highlights that make still lifes "sing".

Scott Road, Looking West

"Scott Road, Looking West" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x24" -- Margie Guyot

This is the road I live on.  That's Lake Michigan and the Leelanau Peninsula in the distance.  The fall colors were in prime condition, with the maple trees all shades of gold and red.  Last year I stood on the distant ridge, facing east to paint Scott Road.  This time I decided to paint the opposite view.  

Normally I wouldn't use such a large canvas for a plein air.  There's such a large area to cover -- in so little time!  But I really wanted to paint a long, horizontal view and this 12x24" canvas was the only thing I had.  I was painting with a buddy, Al Maciag, and I didn't want to hold him up, so I painted fast as I could.  

Every time I drive over Scott Road, I'm thrilled at how beautiful it is here.  

That's a new field of corn on the right.  That field hadn't been used in years.  The landowner rented the land this year and I think all us neighbors were surprised the corn did so well.  It had been planted late and the ground is quite sandy.  If you got up close to it, you'd see the outer edge of the cornfield had been quite "gone over" by the resident deer and raccoon population.

I'd like to do a winter painting of Scott Road, but I doubt it will be painted from this location.  The wind is quite fierce up at this ridge!  Half the time I had to hold onto my Soltek easel while painting this, or it would have blown over.

Autumn Road

"Autumn Road" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

I've gotten a little behind on my posts -- sorry!  With the change of seasons, there's always much to do.  

Back in October I went painting one sunny day with my friend, Al Maciag.  We were cruising the roads SE of Traverse City, MI.  I'm a sucker for sunlight/shadow patterns on roads, so I urged Al to pull over.  The trees were in full glory, covered in golds, bronzes, rusts, etc.   

Right after finishing this painting, we continued our hunt for "the perfect view".  The view of the Boardman River (posted last month) was where we stopped next.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boardman River

"Boardman River" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

My friend Al Maciag and I were cruising around the "Seasonal Roads - Unplowed in Winter" areas, east of Traverse City when we stopped at a little campground.  It was really beautiful, with large pines, hemlocks, ancient oaks -- and this lovely stream.  

I was struck by the colors in the water and the reflections.  Painting water is always challenging, but fun.  It's always a juggling act: the water refuses to hold still and the light conditions are constantly changing.  But I find painting water addictive.

It was pretty chilly out, and breezy.  Thank goodness both of us had extra jackets along.  The water looked deep and not too far above freezing.  I bet the fishing was good along this stretch! 

The painting was quite wet when photographed; I couldn't escape the wet glare on the left and right sides.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunset - Rex Beach 10/01/10

"Sunset - Rex Beach 10/01/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Rain, rain and more rain!  It stopped for a few hours at the end of the day, so I took a chance and went back to Rex Beach to try to do another field study.  I'd finally run out of canvas panels, so used a birch panel, heavily shellacked, my friend Caesar Citraro gave me.  Wow -- a friend with a table saw -- who's not afraid to USE it!  Worth his weight in gold!

I really enjoy painting on birch panels.  Unlike canvas, they are nice and smooth, allowing the oil paint to goosh out freely.  I'd paint on nothing else if I could.

The entire sky was filled with dark rain clouds, with the exception of this thin wedge of gold to the north.  Right as I finished painting, the rain started again.  Chilly rain, too!   

Sunset paintings @ Rex Beach 9/29/10

 "Rex Beach #2 --  9/29/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Sometimes I'll get 2 paintings in before it gets too dark to work.  This is the 2nd one of the evening.  When I look around, trying to figure out what to paint, the question on my mind is always "what is there that is most amazing?".  In this case, it was the bank of dark storm clouds to the north.  While I painted happily away on the beach at Eastport, Harbor Springs and Petoskey were getting pounded!  The rain didn't arrive at my house until after 10:30 PM.   

"Sunset #1 - Rex Beach 9/29/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

This view is looking west across Lake Michigan from Rex Beach.  That's the Leelanau Penninsula in the distance, home to many small vineyards and wineries.  When I came down to paint this evening, what struck me immediately were the beautiful clouds to the south of the larger, ominous storm front in the north.  I had to paint very fast to get this onto canvas.  
This winter I might use some of these small field studies in a larger work.  I'd like to experiment with a technique to get the skies to appear to glow.  First I'll paint the sky in pure white and leave it dry.  Then I'll follow with some very thin glazes of color and Liquin.  It seems that when you mix white into colors to create a pastel, it tends to gray everything.  Make things chalky.  Which is not "glowing".  It's worth a try.

Dusk - Rex Beach 9/27/10

"Dusk - Rex Beach 9/27/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Again, another view of Rex Beach after sunset.  We'd had about two weeks of cold rain and high winds.  Finally I was able to get back down to the beach to paint.  I loved the pattern in the sky to the north and how it reflected in the calm water before me.  

Dusk - Rex Beach 8/29/10

"Dusk - Rex Beach 8/29/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

The cooler, chilly and rainy weather of late summer has arrived.  This view was painted from my favorite "sunset" spot, Rex Beach.  It's about 3 miles from my house, right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  People may be surprised, but the lakeshore is full of little inlets like these.  The water stays shallow for quite a distance out.  

We're starting to experience an invasion of "phragmites": tall, non-native reeds.  Efforts are underway to eradicate them before they take over the entire shoreline.  

This painting was done AFTER the sun had dipped below the horizon and the light was fading fast.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


"Cantaloupe" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 12x24" -- Margie Guyot

This was painted entirely outside last Sunday afternoon.  So -- although it's a still life, done "in the plain air", yet not a landscape --  can I still call it a "field study"?  Good question.  I've just been in a "fruity mood" lately and wanted to paint cantaloupe, doggone it!  That's a very shiny purple cloth the cantaloupe halves were set on.  I did this out on my patio table on one of our rare sunny days.  Well, it was more like "sunny for a couple hours" type day.  Didn't know if I could pull it off, but hey -- nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My chickens got to eat it when I was finished.  I used to love cantaloupe, but developed an allergy to it.  Boo-hoo!

If you could look very closely at this painting, you'll see it was painted "very gooshey".  About the only detail was the seeds; other than that, I used a #8 flat brush and shmooshed the paint around thickly, thanks to Liquin.  Well, I had to rush -- rain was moving in fast!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmall Tractor

"Farmall Tractor" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas board -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Last week I had to drive way down to Mancelona, MI, for a band rehearsal.  And right west of town I saw this wonderful, old tractor, sitting in a big field of goldenrod!  Wow!  Way cool!

And it rained and was terribly windy all week.  Impossible to go out plein air painting.  Yesterday the wind departed and the clouds left -- and I loaded the Flex and took off down M-88 for Mancelona.  Nothing was going to stop me!

But -- oy vey!  I'd pitched my Soltek about 10 feet from the little highway to paint this -- and was surprised at the volume of traffic!  M-88 is a "major through-way" out there, with semis and cars, zooming along at 55+ mph!  I didn't enjoy that, painting so close to those tons of speeding metal, whizzing past at 10 feet away.  But I was determined to paint this thing!

The goldenrod was on its way out.  Good thing I got there when I did.  Today it's supposed to rain again.  

The Farmall looked ancient.  The red paint was very faded.  But I bet it'll run! 

Frog Tea Party

"Frog Tea Party" -- oil on canvas -- 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

"Congratulations!  Your work has been juried into the American Women Artists 2010 National Juried Competition in Dallas, Texas.
The jurors...had a very difficult task to select the pieces that make up this exceptional exhibition. 
Of over 1547 entries ... the jury selected 65 works to be displayed from October 9 – November 9, 2010 at Southwest Gallery.  Since your work was accepted into the exhibition, we hope that you will plan to attend and participate in the activities October 8 in Dallas which include an Awards Brunch at 9am and Artist Reception from 1-5pm on October 9th." 
I painted this last year and entered it into this competition a couple months ago.  Was happy to learn the results!  Will be shipping it out to Dallas this next week.  Thank goodness I haven't gotten rid of all my large shipping boxes!  
The frog teapot and creamer came from a garage sale in my old neighborhood in Farmington Hills.  Then I about fell over when I saw the matching water pitcher up for bid on eBay!  Alas, that really cool "woogedy" glass vase (in the center) is no more.  One of the kitties knocked it over and broke it.  Boo-hoo!  

That's one of my favorite vintage tablecloths.  Really difficult to draw!  But my general rule is: don't panic!  Just slug away and figure it out!  
Although I hate leaving Paradise, I'm considering flying to Dallas for this show.  Maybe I can schmooze and get into a high-scale gallery.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Looking South -- Lightfoot and State Roads"

 "Looking South -- Lightfood and State Roads" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

We'd had days and days of high winds and rain here, making me itching to get out and do some plein air painting!  This morning I had to schlep 2 paintings up to Crooked Tree Arts Council in Petoskey, then take several others up to Three Pines Gallery in Cross Village.  Quite a haul.  But I had my thinking cap on and had all my painting gear with me.

Every time I'd come back from Three Pines Gallery, I'd see this road.  Finally I was able to stop and paint it!  The wind was bearable.  The clouds were quite interesting.  It wasn't too hot or too cold.  In other words, it was a perfect day to be out painting!

Seems like every painting I've done with a road has sold.  Wow -- a light bulb finally came on: I need to paint more road paintings!

Woke up at 4 this morning, got up at 4:30 and am about to get my bike ride in.  Then I'll load up the car and drive south, towards Bellaire.  Last week I saw an old tractor in a field of goldenrod.  Let's hope it's still there!

Monday, September 6, 2010


"Corn" -- plein-air field study -- oil on canvas -- 18x24" -- Margie Guyot

I'd been wanting to paint a pile of sweet corn for a while, so I finally bought a bunch the other day at a farm market.  This was one of the more pleasant plein airs to do, as I was able to paint it on my little patio.  A rare treat, being close to all the creature comforts!  

Again, I used one of my favorite vintage tablecloths.  In reality, it's got stains and a couple holes in it, but I prettied it up for the painting.  
I did this one day last week, right before we had several days of heavy rains and wind.  Knowing the bad weather was fast approaching, I painted as quickly as possible, using my trusty #8 flat brush.  I do probably 85% of most paintings using that #8 flat.  Generally I only use 2 brushes to do a painting, switching to a smaller one (sometimes a #4) only when absolutely necessary.  I've found a brand of brushes I really like: Silver Ruby Satins.  They're a blend of natural and synthetic, and what's so great about them is they hold their shape very well.  I can do a fine line with even a #8 brush.  It's usually easier to use that brush than a skinny brush for fine lines.  The fine silk hairs in this painting were done using the #4.

The corn ended up being pretty dried up, having laid there in the blazing sun all afternoon.  I gave all of it to my chickens.   Lots of happy clucking that afternoon!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green Cabbage

"Green Cabbage" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas  18x24" -- Margie Guyot

Sunday morning I went kayaking out on Lake Michigan with a couple friends.  I'd have gladly quit after an hour -- the sun was blazing, it was going up to 90 degrees and the waves made it rather challenging.  But nooooo -- we stayed out 3 hours!  I was pretty well tuckered-out by the time I got home.  Had to take a nap.
Ah, there's nothing like a little rest and cup of Starbucks to get me going again!  I loaded my Soltek, BestBrella, Gamsol and paints into the car and drove over to my neighbor's garden.  OK -- call me soft.  I could have carried it all over, but why suffer needlessly?  I'd had my exercise for the day.

Wearing my long bumblebee-free jeans, socks and shoes, I felt confident I would be safe from marauding insects, although I sweated like a pig.  90 degrees at 4 PM.  Did I mention I'm not a "heat person"?  But I had been wanting to paint one of the green cabbages for days.  Nothing was going to stop me.  Except rain.

How quickly the sun was sinking behind the row of trees to the west!  Brushes, don't fail me now!  I painted as fast as I possibly could.  Slap that paint around, girl!!!  It would be no good to try to paint without strong sunlight and shadows.  Notice how the sunlight seemed to make one of the leaves on the left side appear to almost glow?  It made the central vein appear a surprisingly strong yellow.
There's nothing like painting in good-old, strong sunlight!  You see colors you'd never be able to get if you were using a photograph as reference.  Depending on the angle of the leaf, some sections would be reflecting the blue of the sky; others would be reflecting the warm gold of the sun.  It's the strong shadow shapes that make an object "pop".   To me, if something doesn't "pop", it's just blah.  And why paint "blah"?

I usually do plein air in smaller sizes just because the light changes so quickly.  But I wanted to paint larger, showing the cabbage nearly life-size.  Impossible to do it proper justice on an 8x10" canvas.
The most difficult part of any painting, for me, is drawing it in.  I always use a little view-finder to help figure out the composition.  And I always use skills I learned from Betty Edward's wonderful book, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain".  I used my brush handle as a kind of measuring stick, basing all the drawings of the leaves on the gauge of the tight cabbage head.  Otherwise this would have been impossible for me to draw.  And yes, I always have lots of wipe-outs!  But that's the great thing about oil paint -- it dries so slowly, it's easy to wipe out what you don't like.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


"Corn" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 24x12" -- Margie Guyot

I'd been looking at this cornfield near my house for the past couple weeks, hoping to find time to paint it.  The deer and raccoons have been ravaging the outer edges.  In reality, there are ears with chunks missing, ears hanging and entire stalks ripped out.  I "prettied it up" for the painting. 

And talk about a hellish, mish-mash of green to try to make sense out of!  Oy vey!  Didn't know if I could pull this one off, but hey -- nothing ventured, nothing gained! 

What I loved most about this scene was the interesting patterns on the ground, cast by the stalks and leaves.

And speaking of leaves: the wind was blowing them around, making it as difficult to try to paint as trying to paint a barnyard of crazy chickens!  I couldn't really tell you how I figured out how to get this picture painted!  Felt like I was treading on "new ground".  But I think it worked.

The wind blew my umbrella off twice.  But no bumblebee stung me this time -- I had the sense to wear LONG pants.  So maybe tomorrow I'll return to my neighbor's garden and paint their green cabbage (site of the infamous bumblebee sting of a few days ago).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Purple Cabbage

"Purple Cabbage" -- plein air field study -- 18x24" -- oil on canvas -- Margie Guyot

Normally I wouldn't paint a plein air study in this large a format, but I decided to try it this afternoon.  I'd been over at the neighbor's garden, picking a few green beans, when I noticed their beautiful row of cabbages.  Aha!  Time to drag out the old easel!

Thank goodness I threw everything into my car and drove over.  It took a couple hours to paint this and the sun was hot and I was rather tired at the end.  My BestBrella didn't want to stay put in the wind, so I had to hold it most of the time with my left hand.  Then my canvas blew off the Soltek easel!  I managed to catch it before it landed face-down in the dirt.  But worst of all: a mean bumblebee (one of those fat, black & yellow jobs) crawled up inside my capris and stung me in back of my left knee!  OWWWW!  Talk about "suffering for one's art"!  I was happy my car was nearby and I could just heave all my gear into the back. 

Cabbages are so cool!  I might come back and paint one of the green ones.  But next time I'll be sure to wear LONG pants!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Sunset #1: Rex Beach 8/15/10"

"Sunset #1: Rex Beach 8/15/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

It's been very windy here the past couple days, so when I first got down to Rex Beach I prowled along the shoreline, hoping to find a Petoskey stone or two.  The waves usually bring them in.  No luck.  I was killing a little time, waiting for the big cloud bank to move south a little more.

The view was spectacular!  I could see patches of heavy rainfall out over the lake.  Somebody was getting pounded.  I found out later Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Charlevoix were catching hell.  Dry as a bone where I stood (just north of Eastport).  

But the wind!  It was difficult to paint a straight horizon line with my hand being buffeted by the wind gusts.  I looked up and saw the sun in this position, peeking out for one last look before being covered by the clouds.  

The view changes by the second!  There's the urge to keep changing the painting, but I've learned from experience not to do this too much.  You can drive yourself crazy, following the endless changes.

"Sunset #2: Rex Beach 8/15/10"

"Sunset #2: Rex Beach 8/15/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

The sun had just dipped below the horizon, but there was still lots of light, enough to paint a second (or even a third) painting.  I was looking north, out over Lake Michigan, towards Harbor Springs.  I could see there was quite a rainstorm going on out over the lake.  Still very windy -- hard to hold my brush still enough to paint the horizon line.  But very refreshing, after last week's heat wave!

After I got home, a friend called to say his wife (an oboe player) had gotten rained out of the Harbor Springs Community Band's concert.  They'd gotten through about mid-way through their third number when the conductor had to stop and announce they had to end.  Such a mad scramble to pack up instruments, stands, chairs and music!  They managed to square it all away seconds before the giant deluge.

It was dry as a bone where I stood, thank goodness.  The rain didn't hit here in Eastport until after about 11 PM. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Rhubarb Pie"

"Rhubarb Pie" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

About two months ago I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking that I needed to paint a picture about rhubarb pie.  I've been so busy this summer, I never got around to baking an actual pie, though.  The one in this painting was painted entirely from memory.  Lord knows I've baked enough of them to know what they look like!  Same goes for the bowl of sliced rhubarb.

There are two young kitties that stay in my studio, so it would have been a huge mistake to have a real pie sitting there.  They'd have tasted it and walked on it in no time.  The piecrust (upper left) I painted from memory, too.  The cookbook was all made-up, too.  The potholders (lower right corner) were taken right out of a page from Martha Stewart Living Magazine. 

Summers are just a madhouse!  I also play in a saxophone quartet and the Charlevoix Community Band, plus sometimes I sit in with a little jazz band.  Then there's gardening.  And 10 chickens to take care of.  Weeding.  The distractions are endless.  So I have to slug away on paintings sometimes, doing bits of work when I can fit it in.  

Of course I listened to "Prairie Home Companion" while painting this.  Always love the "BeBop Arebop Rhubarb Pie" stories Garrison Keillor tells.  

Also currently listening to CDs by Mega-Sax, the sax quartet led by Miles Osland, at University of Kentucky.  Pretty wild stuff! 


Monday, August 2, 2010

Geraniums and Frog

"Geraniums and Frog" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

After finishing painting "Porch Ornaments", I looked down and saw this at my feet.  I had an hour or so before I had to frame things and drive back to Petoskey, so why not go for a third painting?  It had been such a dark, gloomy day, I thought it would be nice to do a funny, cheery painting.

Porch Ornaments

"Porch Ornaments" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

After finishing painting "Charlevoix Train Station", I felt discouraged.  It was dark and gloomy and rainy -- not a good day for plein air painting!  All of us painters were under the gun to come up with nice paintings, framed and turned in later that afternoon.  Everything looked so blah!  Oh, what to do, what to do!

I packed up my gear and left Charlevoix.  Went home.  I was hungry.  Made a salad for lunch and had a cup of Starbucks.  There had to be something I could paint!

Standing out on my front porch, I looked up and saw it: my next painting!  Bright, cheery and whimsical: it was perfect!  There was the little "flying fish" tincan sculpture by Rich Branstrom and the string of plastic owl patio lights.  It gave me goosebumps.  Goosebumps, for me, are always a sign that I should do it, to follow through on an impulse.  I couldn't stop smiling the whole time I painted this one.  This was my favorite painting (out of 3) that I did on Saturday for the annual Crooked Tree Art Center's Paint-Out.

Charlevoix Train Station

"Charlevoix Train Station" -- oil on canvas -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

Ah, the morning of the Crooked Tree Art Center's Annual Plein Air Paint-Out -- and it was raining!!!!  Boo-hoo!  And I had two surprise houseguests, fortunately both painters: Heiner Hertling and Mike Toderoff.  We had to check-in up in Charlevoix at 8 AM.  Pay our fee, get our blank canvases stamped on the back.  Everything was due back in Petoskey by 5 or 6 PM, framed and ready to hang.  Such pressure to produce -- and have it look GOOD!  

Neither Mike nor Heiner knew of any good spots to paint, especially protected spots.  So I took them down to the old train depot in Charlevoix.  There were covered spots we could stand under.  About the only view we had was of the train station, now owned by the Historical Society.  

None of us likes paintings buildings.  All those windows!  All those straight lines!  But it was the only option at that point.  So we slugged away on it, muttering and complaining the whole time.  

Heiner and Mike finished theirs and headed on north, towards Petoskey.  I packed my gear up and drove home.  Had to recharge -- have lunch, a coffee, and consider what on earth I could paint next.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Ferry Road 7/27/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

I've been in love with painting shady farm roads.  And if I'm able to find a shady spot to stand in while painting one, so much the better!  This one is at the corner of US31 and Ferry Road, south of Charlevoix, Michigan.  We've had a heatwave lately.  Down towards Detroit, they've had 100 degree temperatures.  80's up here.  We're all used to cooler weather and some of us start complaining if it gets above 75!

New-Mown Alfalfa

"New-Mown Alfalfa" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

I had just finished painting a view of Ferry Road when I heard a tractor running in the distant field.  A farmer was mowing a field of alfalfa.  By the time I was able to carry my gear over there, he was finished.  The designs of the rows always fascinate me! 

There really wasn't a great deal of variance in the "values" (lightness/darkness) of the field.  Mostly it was a case of color that made the painting. 

So glad I'd thought to bring along my BestBrella!  It's been so hot here and painting with the glaring sun beating down on my face is torture.  Even with a hat, it's no fun.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sunset 7 07 10

"Sunset 7 07 10" -- oil on stretched canvas -- 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

I've been lagging behind on my posts!  Trying to catch up.  Last night a storm was rolling in over Lake Michigan; there was no bright red sun peeking out.   No dazzling oranges, no golds.  It was actually quite monochromatic between the shades of grays/lavenders/blues.  But I drove down to Rex Beach (only about 2 miles away) and painted anyway.  I loved the way the distant water seemed to have a bright glow, reflecting some of the clouds above.  I liked the "dappled" look of some of the darker, closer clouds.  

As usual, I had the entire beach to myself.  It was very peaceful.  Once in a while a big fish -- a carp?  lake trout?  would leap up and grab a bug.  I'd sprayed myself with mosquito lotion back at the car, so I was able to paint relatively undisturbed.

Today I had to gently scrape off 6 dead gnats that had imbedded themselves into the painting, in between the beach and my car.  At least they were small!  Sometimes the larger mayflies swarm and stick not only my painting but the palette and turpentine bucket as well.  Such fun!

That's the Leelanau Peninsula in the distance.  And it's Lake Michigan.  A great place to live (and paint!).

Friday, July 2, 2010

"Yellow Glads"

"Yellow Glads" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

Lately I've fallen in love with fabric folds.  As soon as I finished painting "The Blue Bowl" (see earlier post), I threw this vintage tablecloth onto the table and loved the way it landed!  The local grocery store had gladiolas on sale cheap, so I bought 2 bunches.

There are 2 young, frisky cats in the studio and I knew they would rip the glads to shreds if I left them on the table overnight.  Each afternoon I'd lock up the glads in a back room.  The tablecloth would be completely rearranged each morning.  

I knew from past experience that I'd have to paint the blooms in first.  Especially now, in summer, because I'm always getting interrupted by band rehearsals, gardening, etc.  So after struggling to draw in the basic composition (which always involves many wipe-outs), I painted the flowers. 

Some artists take a photo, then project it onto the canvas and trace.  Certainly, it's quicker and a good tool for some subjects, but I know I can draw complicated subjects -- as long as I don't go into a panic.  I think that's the difference between a beginner and an experienced artist.  The beginner freaks out at the difficulty.  The experienced artist knows it's just a big puzzle.  It's endless comparison of the objects: is this one bigger/smaller?  Is it in the middle?  Is it one-quarter of the way over?  A painting is a big puzzle, solved.  You just learn to control your panic and keep at it.  And, what the heck -- TV's lousy, the Malls are an hour's drive away, my closets are too full already.  So I may as well stay in the studio and figure it out!

A few years ago I had taken a workshop with a well-known artist and she said, "Obviously, painting (landscapes) is easy for you."  I told her NO -- it ISN'T easy for me.   It's hard.  I set up, look at it and think Good God!  This is going to be TOUGH!    The trick is I'd learned how to shut up the little voice inside that says it looks awful!  "Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards is where I learned to really SEE.  If you get her book and do the exercises, you'll learn how to shut out all the negative -- and really see.  That book changed my life.

I'd finished most of the painting and worried about what to do with the bottom.  If I left it empty, it just seemed to look so sterile, so lifeless.  I decided to paint in a portrait of my favorite cat, Elvis.  He watches me like a hawk all the time.  If I walk out to the mailbox, he follows me.  If I drive to a band rehearsal, he sits in the driveway, with a sad, worried look on his face.  He's my little pal!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blue Bowl

"Blue Bowl" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

I'd meant to set up a sprawling, multi-colored summer party themed still life.  But when I went into the studio, I was struck by the blue shadow cast by the bowl.  I threw down this great, vintage tablecloth and loved the way the folds landed!  Why not just paint this?  The party one can be next.

Drawing in my still lifes is always the hardest part.  Lots of wipe-outs.  I always use a view-finder and am constantly comparing the sizes of things.  For instance, I measured the orange in front and noted how the ones in back compared in size.  The orange was like the "standard unit of measure".  

Another thing I always do, soon as possible, is to figure out where the center of the painting is -- what object (if any) falls right in the center.  This is essential when drawing in the composition.  Before I'd figured out this trick (and before I used a viewfinder), sometimes half the composition would be running off the canvas.

Love the old tablecloths!  Can hardly wait to start the next painting....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nearing Sunset - the Deer Field

"Nearing Sunset -- the Deer Field" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

The clouds looked promising for an interesting sunset painting at Rex Beach, so I loaded up the Flex and headed down Old Dixie Highway, towards Norwood.  On the way I decided to pull over and check out this field.  It's only about a mile north of my house.  What a view!  I had to paint it.

I love painting in late-day.  Love the shadow patterns and colors!  Very peaceful time of day.  Unlike where I used to live, in a suburb of Detroit, up here the air is clean.  Very little traffic.  Nobody hassles me.  I was able to paint this "unmolested".  The only sounds were the insects.  

Right here the soil is very sandy.  I guess it used to be part of the old lake bottom.  Lots of rocks.  If you're lucky, you can spot old Indian arrowheads.  Or maybe Petoskey stones, which are fossilized coral that was originally formed off the coast of Chile.  Over the millions of years, these fossilized coral pieces have moved (via plate-shifting) up to the coastline of Lake Michigan.  They're found nowhere else in the world.

So the soil is very poor in spots.  Some fields aren't used for crops.  There are certain weeds that do well here, however.  A type of wild sorrel, known by some as "British Soldiers" for its red blooms, likes it here.  And moss.  Daisies grow here, too.  I added a few into the foreground of this painting.  In the distance you see maples, aspen and birch.  Out of sight, to the right, is a lily pond.

My some miracle, the mosquitoes weren't too horrible.  Or at least I didn't notice them much.  Threw it all into the back of the Flex and hurried down to Rex Beach, where I painted a sunset scene (see next blog).

Sunset - 6/16/10

"Sunset - 6/16/20" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

I painted this down at Rex Beach, south of Norwood.  Nobody else on the beach (which is the usual case).  It's wonderful here!  Felt like a millionaire -- like it was my private, personal beach!

But there was no time for dithering!  I'm always careful to park in the parking lot -- not in the turnaround place, as it looks like a good spot to get stuck in the sand.  Seems so rude to park there, even if nobody else is around.  And I don't have a cell phone, so if I got stuck, that would be a major hassle.  

There were very large dog tracks in the sand.  Or at least I hoped they were dog tracks and not coyote tracks.  Large, ravenous coyotes.  But one has to think positively!  Can't wimp out!

The sun was sinking fast.  I'd left most of my gear back at the car, only carrying the Soltek easel, my turpentine, paper towels and a canvas panel.  Set up the easel and realized my palette wasn't very full of "the essentials", especially white paint.  Wondered if I'd have enough to paint this, but didn't want to walk all the way back to the car.

Sometimes I think paintings turn out better if you paint them fast as possible, anyway.  Use a big brush.  Go for the main shapes.  Small canvases are good, too.  And thank goodness the bugs left me alone!  Or, at least I was so interested in what I was doing, I didn't notice any mosquitoes.

How does one paint a brilliant sun?  It's impossible to look at.  I had to look to the side, as it was absolutely blinding.  White with a touch of yellow is about the brightest, most intense tone I could use.  All the other colors had to be related to that, to make the sun appear glowing. 

Ah, I wish I could let you hear the tree frogs in this post!  They were almost deafening as I walked back to the car. Wonderful little frogs -- and I never see them.  May they prosper and multiply!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ferry Road

"Ferry Road" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

I'd been wanting to come paint this view ever since I saw it a few weeks back.  Finally I made the effort to get over there today.  It's east of US 31, in between Charlevoix and Ellsworth, Michigan.  I'm such a sucker for rolling hills, gravel roads and trees casting shade!  Kind of a scorcher here: up near 80 degrees.  Well, that's HOT for here.  Lots of us are complaining.  Tomorrow's supposed to be even hotter.  Darn!

Up until fairly recently, I had only done plein air in 8x10, 11x14" formats.  A friend suggested trying 8x16's.  I tried it once and became hooked!  They're also great for painting seascapes.

I was fortunate to find a shady tree to paint under!  I'm not a fan of sunburns and heat.  Two farm dogs woofed at me initially, but soon got bored and left.  They took turns chasing each other out in the fields.

I'm at home now, recharging with a salami & mustard sandwich.  Would like to drive down to Rex Beach and paint a sunset tonight.  Clouds look like they'd be interesting.  And I couldn't paint at the beach last month -- too many swarms of bugs.  They would dive into wet paint -- either on my palette or onto the canvas.  Thought I should make the most of today -- tomorrow's supposed to be sweltering, in the upper 80's.  I'll be holed up inside my studio, working on a new still life (where it's cooler).

Coffee Break with Orchid

"Coffee Break with Orchid" -- oil on canvas -- 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

The inspiration for this one came from the beautiful slipper-type orchid I found at Meijer's in Traverse City. I'm such a sucker for orchids! Love them. Their blooms last for quite some time.

Right away I knew what I wanted to pair it with: the old metal cookie tin (on the left). I'd gotten that last month at a garage sale. It used to be my neighbor Pete Peterson's. I love the red bird on it!

And I'm re-using that tablecloth. It came from an antique store in Traverse City as well. Boy o boy -- it's a tough one to paint, too! But totally fascinating.

The big green glass vase I got from a mail-order about 15 years ago. Amazing -- it's survived and hasn't broken! I love the curlicues on it. Love the color!

Guess I'm kind of hooked (also!) on painting gloves. And I love this type of gardening glove! It's knit and the fingers are dipped in neoprene. I've bought all kinds of gardening gloves and this is the best! All the rest quickly blow out the fingertips. I tend to get fungus under my fingernails from the soil, so I really appreciate how these gloves hold up. And not that expensive, either!

It was overcast pretty much the entire time I painted this still life. So I had to guess about the shadows.

The cookies in the tin were painted from memory. I have no time to bake cookies. And the store-bought cookies are nasty! So you can call these "pretend cookies".

I usually like to fix a nice, strong cup of Starbucks coffee about mid-day. When I painted the coffee in the painting, I'd fixed a little extra and poured it into the thermos cup. Painted it quickly, then drank it. Waste not, want not.

Don't you just love the old thermos? I never buy them new. I snag as many as I want at garage sales. Who knows how old this one is? I always brought my own coffee when I worked at Ford Wixom Assembly Plant. The vending machine stuff was horrid.

You say the roses are too little? Well, they were snipped off my Blaze climbing rose. They were the first roses to open. I prettied them up a little, as the Japanese beetles had chewed them up somewhat. Maybe I'll treat myself to a bunch of store-bought tea roses soon....

"Lepman Farm" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

I painted this entire painting with one brush only: a #8 Ruby Satin flat. Love the Ruby Satin brushes! They can hold a knife-thin shape, making it possible to paint even thin lines, like the metal gate you see on the left, in front of the barn.

My friend Al Maciag and I decided to go join the Jordan River Art Club's plein air group on Tuesday morning. We were to meet at a historical farm, east of Charlevoix. It was very cloudy and rain was in the forecast, but there was the lure of shaggy cows! Al's "big" into painting cows, so he was especially interested. Why I'd left my camera at home....!

Most of the barns on this property are over 100 years old. Most had been moved onto this property and are in surprisingly good condition, at least from the outside.

The cows WERE so cute! When Al sends me a photo, I'll add to this post. I was tempted to try to paint them, but I knew that they wouldn't hold still. So I painted this view of a couple of the barns.

Every once in a while a light mist would fall. I painted as fast as possible, using the #8 flat brush. #8 is rather large. My very first teacher, Clyde Aspevig, had told us to use the biggest brush for as long as possible. Good advice!

At my feet were miniature daisies of some sort. I love those! I don't know the name of them, but I'd love to get some for my yard. Mostly white, but there were a few pale pink ones.

One of the great things about the Jordan River Art Club's plein air painting sessions is that they always have a thermos of coffee, a cooler of pop and water, fruit and bakery items. Members take turn bringing stuff. I'd never been out painting with such luxuries!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"June Field" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

A painter friend and I were driving around the Leelanau Peninsula the other day, looking for good spots to paint. I spied this view of the furrows and row of willows. That's a new crop of corn peeking up. The farmer apparently didn't plow last year's crop of cornstalks under. They'd been harvested, but all the stubs were still in place.

It was supposed to be partly cloudy, but it turned out to be mostly cloudy, turning to completely cloudy. At one point, just for a couple seconds, the clouds parted and sunshine appeared on the upper left portion of the field. I tried to capture that view.

"Leelanau Barn" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

The sky was completely overcast. My friend and I were hoping to find something with a bit of color. He loves painting barns, so we stopped at did this view of an old barn. It was on one of the largest cherry orchards on the Leelanau Peninsula.

In the foreground there were a few daisies and a type of weed that has a rusty-pinkish bloom on it. Some call it "British Soldiers"; others call it wild sorrel.

"Peony Garden" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

Lots of rain here lately! But it's a good thing. Everybody with a garden is happy. Although I'm sure the campers are miserable. I knew my neighbor's peonies were in full bloom. They don't last forever, so I took a chance on painting yesterday. The sky was leaden. Every once in a while I'd feel a drop of rain, so I painted as fast as I could.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Love Shack

"Love Shack" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- Margie Guyot

I painted this yesterday afternoon over in back of The Cycling Salamander, an art gallery on US 31, south of Charlevoix. Rebecca Glotfelty, the owner, let me have the roam of the place. And what a great place it is: rolling hills, flowers, a little pond, fruit trees -- all perfumed by the autumn olive shrubs that are in bloom.

When looking for a spot to paint, I walk around with my little plastic viewfinder, framing potential views. Clyde Aspevig taught me to use a view finder back in 1987. I use it faithfully.

Rebecca's got this little building out back, next to a pond. I call it the "Love Shack". I loved the way the shadow fell across the side. And the green and red combination of paint. Rebecca's got quite a knack for choosing paint colors.

And I always love to show what's going on with window reflections. Sometimes you can see through the windows; sometimes you just see what they're reflecting.

There was the loveliest willow tree next to the building. It had some hanging branches that I couldn't resist throwing in the painting.

And, it being spring in Michigan, there were loads of hungry mosquitoes bedeviling me. Bullfrogs croaked. Birdies sang. Gentle breezes. Sunny skies. Ah, it was grand!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Tea for Two" -- oil on canvas -- 40x60" -- Margie Guyot

Fortunately I had anticipated a long string of interruptions when I started this painting. I'd started this right at the beginning of May, when gardening season started. That's when everything else gets shoved aside so you can get your flowers and veggies started. I used to feel guilty about leaving my art, but have made peace with it.

So I painted the blossoms first. I knew they'd only last a day or two. Used a Hawaiian-print shirt as a "tablecloth". I loved the colors, yellow and blue, of the fabric. And if you're familiar with my still lifes, you'll recognize my frog teapot set. They're so much fun to paint!

I guess the theme of this painting has to do with the Joy of Spring!

"Lilacs - Norwood" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

3 weeks ago we had snow flurries. This week it hit 90 degrees! The poor lilacs are burning out fast, so I've been trying to paint some views. I found these growing on the side of a ridge in Norwood, overlooking Lake Michigan. I was SO happy to have a nice shade tree to stand under!

"Lilacs" -- plein air field study -- 9x12" -- oil on birch panel -- Margie Guyot

A friend and I were driving to a concert on Sunday when I spied these in Eastport. Monday morning I drove over and painted this view. That's a little gravel road that leads down to Torch Lake. I took the liberty of moving the lilacs closer to the road.

The oil color I'd bought a few months ago, Vasari Ruby Violet, has really helped. Purples are hard colors to mix. The Ruby Violet has been a very handy color! I found out about it from one of my teachers, Scott Christensen.

I love painting in the early morning or late day -- I think the shadows really help create excitement.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Maples -- Early Spring" -- plein air field study -- oil on panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

The weather had turned foul. Most of the day it rained and snowed -- and it was May 8th! I stopped by to visit my friend Cal, who lives south of Charlevoix. He's got lots of big maple trees that fascinate me. Gnarly old things!

The rain and snow had stopped around 2:30 PM. The sun came out for about 5 minutes, long enough for me to see a bit of the highlights. Then it was obliterated by the clouds again. I set up my easel and had on my warmest winter coat: heavyweight down, plus my wolf fur trooper hat. That's some of what I wear when painting the ice pileups and it felt good! The wind howled. Where were my gloves, darn it?

Feeling rather miserable always has an effect on the speed with which I work. Sometimes that's a plus!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Old Mission Peninsula Plein Airs

"Barn on Old Mission Peninsula" -- plein air field study -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

My friend, Al Maciag, and I were spending the day, tooling around the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula. It's NE of Traverse City, MI. He called me in the morning to say the cherry orchards were in bloom -- and did I want to go painting? Whatta question! I enjoyed the chance to be a passenger and sat, dog-like, gazing out the window. While I'm not a big fan of painting old barns, we decided this scene was pretty enough to paint. I believe this is a horse farm, as two were peeking at us from behind the wooden fence on the hill. A few clusters of blooming daffodils were livening up the scene. Please scroll down to the the two other paintings I did that day.

"Forsythia" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

While waiting for my friend's daugher and son-in-law to prepare dinner, Al and I scooted down the drive to paint some forsythia bushes in full bloom. After a dreary winter of blues and grays, the chance to paint screaming yellows was irresistable! Although the day had been overcast, the sky cleared later on. I loved the patterns of shadows on the street. Notice how the shade of yellow changed on the painted center line of the street? Showing sunlight and shadows is fun!
One more painting to check out:

"Cherry Trees" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

This was the first painting of the day. This area of NW Michigan is filled with orchards: apple, cherry, apricot, peach and plum. When they're in bloom, it's like heaven! We painted this orchard on Old Mission Peninsula, just NE of Traverse City.

The sky was bright but overcast, with a layer of thin, white clouds. No blue. As soon as I saw this scene, I realized that the cherry blossoms were actually quite dark, compared to the bright sky. They looked rather medium-gray in comparison. I loved the pattern of the sky and blossoms most of all. Of course, it was rather challenging to figure out how to paint this, but, like figuring out an algebra test (or a jigsaw puzzle), I knew to just stick with it and not panic.

You won't see any strong sunlight/shadow patterns in this one because there weren't any.