Friday, February 26, 2010

Check out the snow on this palette! I could barely paint with it by the end.

"Snowy Afternoon 2/26/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

It was only snowing lightly when I left m house, bound for Charlevoix. A photographer from the Petoskey News was going to meet me at the Charlevoix Circle of Art and I couldn't stand her up. Originally the plan had been to meet at the Circle and then head out for the ice at Norwood. However, a blizzard was in progress, so we decided to stay more in town.

I parked next to the Circle of Art and set up my Soltek right next to the building. Anything to keep out of the wind! I also tried setting up the BestBrella to try to keep the snow off my palette. But it was useless. I just vowed to paint fast as I could.

This view is looking north, down a small alley in Charlevoix. The photographer came and got a charge out of my crazy outfit. I had on my neon-orange polartec pants from LL Bean and my wolf fur trapper hat. And my heavyweight down coat that makes me look like I weigh 400 pounds. Rather eccentric. Oh well. At least I was warm.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Bananas" -- oil on stretched canvas -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

Can you tell I like this tablecloth? Monet had his haystacks; I have my vintage tablecloths. It's just so great to use in still lifes. And fruit: I could paint fruit all day, day in and day out! I hadn't painted any fruit in a while and these bananas were signing a siren song today.

No dilly-dallying about when it comes to painting bananas. They ripen so quickly and change their looks almost by the hour!

It was overcast and snowing all day. No strong sunlight/shadow patterns. Only very slight shadows were showing, but it's OK. Soft shadows are a nice change now and then.

If I'd had my camera in the studio, I could have gotten a photo of Picasso (my black & white kitty) lying in the center of these bananas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is what I was looking at while trying to paint the picture (below). Little Miss America and Picasso love toying with my flowers, dipping their paws into the saucer, nibbling the leaves and finally tipping everything over! I included this photo to let you know that there is often an interesting little story that goes along with each painting.

"White Cyclamen #2" -- oil on stretched canvas -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

This is the second painting I've done recently, using this beautiful white cyclamen. It just keeps blooming and blooming! The shop I bought it in said to always keep water in the saucer and never water from the top. I'm amazed at how that thing sucks up the water!

And I've used this tablecloth before a couple times as well. It's quite a challenge to draw in and get the perspective right. I'm still not sure if I have it right yet. Painting and looking down on my subject as I do, it is rather difficult sometimes to give the feeling of proper aerial perspective. There is a fascinating drawing/study by Edgar Payne that I want to copy. In it, he draws a series of circles, supposedly lying flat on the ground, continuing all the way out to the horizon line. The circles become obelisks as they recede. I need to study that example and try to replicate it as I think it would be helpful.

And it was rather challenging to paint white flowers on a white tablecloth and get them to "read". The more I looked at the white tablecloth (which was quite wrinkly -- I refuse to iron it!), the more towards an ochre-tone it became.

Why did I chose this format? There is a call-for-entry coming up for "things 10x20", in honor of the year 2010.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Banks Twp. Park 2/21/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

A beautiful sunny day here and the temperature rose above freezing. Still, I was glad I had my heavy down coat, balaclava, hat and gloves! That wind coming off the lake was still pretty chilly. I parked in the lot at Barnes Township Park and pitched my easel on the little hill overlooking Lake Michigan. A low cloudbank was in the west, but otherwise it was blue skies. The ice was breaking up and I loved this view. Snow has melted enough to catch glimpses of the boulders along the sandy shoreline (in the foreground). In the distance you can see the Leelanau Peninsula.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Waves - Norwood Beach 2/19/20" -- plein air field study -- 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

It was a rare sunny day here in NW Michigan and it had me inspired! Not wanting to waste time showering, I pulled on snowpants on over my pajamas, threw on my heavy down coat, loaded my gear into the car and drove to Norwood Beach. The wind was brisk, raising tremendous whitecaps. And the wind had created some deep drifts in the snow since the last time I was there. It was about knee-deep in places as I headed out to my favorite spot.

The ice beyond the big pileup clumps looked treacherous. The crashing waves were causing the ice to undulate. Really cool to watch!

I was glad to have received my box of 10x20" stretched canvases in the mail. Painting in that format is rather new to me -- and I think it's just the thing for this type of landscape.

Wore my balaclava and new hat, which was a great combination. My face didn't feel cold (for once!). The new hat has a wide brim, is very lightweight and has a strong chinstrap. No fun having to chase your hat across the ice!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Norwood Beach, 4 PM, 2/13/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

Doesn't this scene look like something a polar bear would be seen in, roaming around? I loved the way the open water reflected the pale viridian hue of the sky. And the snow was reflecting the pale violet-gray tones of the clouds.

Notice the odd olive-tone of the distant water on the horizon? That's the way it was. Very strange. Usually the water at that distance is a very deep blue-ish/brownish color. Go figure. Hey -- I just paint 'em as I see 'em. That's the Leelanau Peninsula in the distance.

The ice was about 3 feet thick where I was standing (I think, anyway). I wasn't worried about breaking through. Even if I did, I figured the water wouldn't be more than waist-deep at that point. I could hear the ice moaning all around me. Moaning is OK -- cracking sounds isn't!

There was a buildup of ice chunks in front of me that I'd have liked to have set up on, but it was super-slippery. Maybe I should buy a set of those new cleats that you screw into your boot soles. I did order a new pair of Pac boots (said to be good up to minus 100 degrees Farenheit). Maybe I'll put cleats on those.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Early Afternoon -- Norwood Beach 2/13/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

I love coming to this site! It's always looking different, from day to day -- and from second to second! Compared to the weather we'd had earlier in the week, it was practically balmy today here. Still, I was glad I had on my sub-zero boots, snow pants, balaclava, etc. Walking across the ice is rather treacherous. So easy to slip! I wasn't worried about falling through the ice so much. Having grown up in Iowa, I know what ice sounds like when it's about to crack.

The ice was making all kinds of moaning sounds. Quite interesting! I loved the way the wind had blown the snow into patterns, as you can see here in the foreground. The sky was fascinating. Constantly changing. I almost felt like I was trying to chase it with my brush.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Freezing Lake Michigan - February

"Ice Chunks 2/11/10" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

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

The weather forecast called for a 60% chance of snow, but my friend Janet and I decided to risk going out to paint anyway. The day before, we'd both bought balaclavas at a ski shop in Traverse City, so we were excited to be able to try them out. And wow -- were they ever worth the bucks! We painted right on the ice at Norwood Beach (south of Charlevoix), with a stiff wind blowing the whole time -- and our faces didn't get chapped!

I probably wouldn't have gone out to paint if it hadn't been for my friend Janet. I'd probably have stayed in the studio, working on a still life.

We discovered this great spot the other day, following the suggestion of our friend, sculptor Todd Warner. We've painted there twice already and the ice changes constantly. What had been open water two days ago was frozen yesterday. In these two little field studies I did yesterday, the small chunks of ice were practically frozen together into a solid sheet by the end of the painting session. The wind was relentless (of course!) and it would have been nice if I could have used my BestBrella. But I was certain the wind would have caught it and sailed it out into the drink for sure. I didn't feel like throwing away $100.

Finally I remembered to bring along a thermos of hot tea to a winter painting session! So in between paintings we had a little "warming break". Little things mean a lot, as they say, and a cup of hot tea out on the ice is fabulous.

The ice made interesting cracking and moaning sounds the whole time. And even though it was quite thick (and safe) where we stood, it was quite slippery, so we had to watch our movements. There were coyote tracks in the snow, running all over the place. I bet it would be quite an interesting place to be, some moonlit night.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Barnes Park - 2/08/10" -- plein air field study -- 11x14" on canvas board -- Margie Guyot

It was one of those rare sunny days here in NW Michigan, so I wanted to go down to the little park south of my house and paint the ice pileup on Lake Michigan. I was dressed warmly -- it was only about 20 degrees -- but my poor face got SO chapped! The wind was whipping off the lake, making it fairly miserable to work. But I loved this scene!

Having grown up in Iowa, I never saw scenes like this. Lake Michigan is only 1/2 mile from my house and I never tire of looking at it, in all seasons.

Notice the icebergs in the distance?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

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

It was 4 degrees out this morning but the sun was making diamonds in the snow! How could I resist? I layered on the clothes, threw on the snowboots and lugged my stuff out into my little orchard. For once I was thankful for hot flashes!

"White Cyclamen" -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

It felt SO good to be inside my nice, warm studio this afternoon! I'd bought this white cyclamen a few days ago in Petoskey and thought it might look pretty, paired with this old tablecloth. About half the time I spent removing one of the cats from the setup. They liked to bask next to the plant in the sun.

If I can keep this plant alive for another week or so, I'd like to use it in another still life or two.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Pink Hyacinth"

"Pink Hyacinth" -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

Everybody up north here is really chomping at the bit for Spring. One of the best ways to deal with this (to me, at least) is to buy some spring flowers. And use them in a painting. These beautiful hyacinths smelled wonderful out in the studio. I just moved them into the house to enjoy before the studio kitties decide to rip them to shreds.

This is another painting in my "vintage tablecloth" series. If you'd like to see many more paintings -- not all flowers, either! -- check out my old blogsite:

Thanks for looking!