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.