Monday, December 26, 2011

Apples and Gourds

"Apples and Gourds" -- oil on canvas 30x30" -- Margie Guyot

As soon as I began disassembling "Pumpkins and Gourds" (the most recent painting), I stopped and thought why not use most of the same objects, only re-arranged?  You probably have guessed by now that I'm fascinated by gourds!  I had a bag of honeycrisp apples in the refrigerator.  Glad I pulled them out, too.  Two of them were starting to spoil.  So the chickens got those.  And I can't remember where I got the hand-woven grass mat.  Either it was the one I bought in the jungle in Panama or else it's a garage-sale find (one somebody else bought in a jungle somewhere).  And what would one of my still lifes be without good-old turkey feathers? 

I just loved the way the glass bowl distorted things!  Not much going on up here, TV-wise, and house-cleaning is so boring, I'd much rather be trying to figure out how to paint distortions!  And it being winter, I have no distractions from gardening chores.  Although the chickens and rabbits (and cats!) do require a certain amount of attention each day.

I wasn't entirely sure I could do a satisfactory rendition of that grass mat!  Thank goodness I didn't allow myself to go into a panic.  Just about anything can be figured out if you stay calm!

One thing that surprised me was the beautiful green shadow that the green "glass" bowl cast, in the upper right.  It may not show up well in this photo, but it is noticeable in person.  And another surprise to me was the faint reddish tones in the shadows cast by the red apples.  This painting was done under natural light, next to a south-facing window.  It was overcast the entire time I painted; no strong sunlight/shadow patterns.  Maybe the reddish tones only showed up because of the softer light.  Maybe they would have disappeared in strong sunlight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Kitty and Pumpkins"

"Kitty and Pumpkins" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

Here it is, several days before Christmas, and I'm still painting pumpkins!  Well, this year I happened to find a very interesting assortment of pumpkins (and gourds).  I really hope to paint as many of them as I can before they rot. 

And what would a still life painting be without a wrinkled tablecloth and some type of glass?  I love painting both and have quite a collection.  Turkey feathers, too.  I use them often in paintings.  I love their ziggy-zaggy design -- and they're harder to paint than you'd think.

This year I did quite a number of small, 6x6" paintings, as they seemed more affordable.  They were good practice, but for me, it's frustrating.  I love doing very complex, difficult paintings -- and 6x6" is too small of an area for that.  So every once in a while I have to haul out a larger canvas to satisfy my need for "challenging projects".  My friend, Todd Warner, said that it's good to paint a large one at least once in a while to show people that we still can do it! 

I never paint from photographs.  I always use a viewfinder and draw the composition in, using a thin mix of a soft gray paint.  Sometimes there are a lot of wipe-outs, but generally it takes me about a day to draw a painting in.  Then I dive in to painting the darks, moving gradually to the medium tones and finally the very lightest tones. 

For this painting I deviated slightly.  The toughest thing for me was the distortions in the glass bowl.  Distortions in glass are very addictive for me and after having painted a few hundred little 6x6" apples and cupcakes, etc., I just had to slug away on this bowl first thing! 

Making a successful painting is learning how to control your panic!  Unlike plein air landscapes, the wonderful thing about still lifes is that they pretty much hold still.  The distortions stay still.  So that is a comfort.  I have learned to just calmly look at the shapes and paint them.  Painting shapes is all there is to it. 

Yesterday morning I'd pretty much painted in the whole thing except for the gap in the lower right.  The table edge left an empty gap.  What to put there to stop the viewer's eye from falling off into the abyss?  I was sitting here at the computer, mulling it over when Picasso, my studio cat, nudged my leg.  Aha!  I grabbed my camera and snapped his face.  Cats may be wonderful, but none of mine have ever cared to hold still.  So I did have to refer to a photograph for his portrait. 

The title: If I'd called this "Picasso and Pumpkins" it might have sent viewers into a wild goose chase, looking for "THE" Picasso, hidden somewhere. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011


"Blue" -- oil on canvas 16x20" -- Margie Guyot

Last weekend my friend Ann stopped in my studio to show me her new handblown Christmas ornaments.  She suggested I use them in a painting, paired with an old blue Carnival glass bowl I had.  I'm always careful to return borrowed items as quickly as possible, so when we had a sunny day here this past Friday, I painted like a fiend!  This painting would have been impossible to do without bright sunlight flooding in.
If I had the nerve, I would have titled this "Ann's Blue Balls"....

Antique Christmas Ornaments

"Antique Ornaments" -- oil on canvas 18x24"

Until I'd painted "White Poinsettias" (see previous post), I'd never attempted painting Christmas ornaments INSIDE their boxes.  It was rather challenging, but a lot of fun.  So I wanted to do another one, only with more boxes!  I'd thought of doing a very large canvas, but considering the economy, kept this one relatively small.

Every year I yearn for those 4" pots of poinsettias.  Love them!  Alas, the stores never get them here until well past Thanksgiving.  But I wanted to include some type of holiday plant.  So I brought one of my many Christmas cactii down to the studio.  I'd never attempted to paint one -- they seem like such a wild snarl!  But nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I always love a good challenge.  And it was sunny!  I love sunny days with the strong shadow patterns.

Keep tuned for a future painting with those elusive poinsettias.... 

More Pumpkins 12x12"

 "Cheese Pumpkin" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

"Baby Boo" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

Once again I've fallen behind on my posts!  Life is FULL.  The weather here along the NW coastline of Michigan has been balmy, compared to previous years.  We've even had a few sunny days, which I've used to squeeze in a few more plein air paintings of the pumpkins.  I wish I could say I had grown all of them, but the deer population here would never allow it.  No, these are "store-bought" pumpkins from a farmstand in Traverse City.  I never cease to be amazed at the varieties!  All they had when I was growing up were the big jack-o-lantern types.

To paint pumpkins, I've been plopping them in the grass in front of my studio, setting up the Soltek easel and Bestbrella and sitting in my lawnchair.  Usually I stand when painting, but maybe I felt lazy.  And I always, always use a little viewfinder to see my compositions.  

Most of the time it would be sunny when I'd begin; often the clouds would roll in at some point and I'd lose my strong sunshine/shadow patterns.  And the temperature would drop very quickly.  Good thing I paint fast!   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

White Poinsettias

"White Poinsettias" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot
I love painting poinsettias!  Every year about this time, I yearn to find them for sale again.  I live in a rural area in NW Michigan and about the only place you can find them is in the grocery store.  Last year when they had poinsettias "3 for $10", I snapped some up.  Red, white, pink -- I love them all!  For fun, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to paint white poinsettias on a white tablecloth.  Which I did last year.  But there was something that troubled me about the painting.  It looked too blah!

So I set it up on the easel last week and every time I'd walk by, I'd look at it, trying to imagine how to "fix" it.  Finally I got the inspiration to darken the background and paint in a box of antique ornaments.  I have lots of old ornaments (of course you'd know I love old, weird things!).  I liked the way the ornaments looked IN the box, so I painted the whole thing, as-is.  Hard?  Of yes, of course it was hard!  But it was a cold, rainy, dreary week and it was that or clean closets.  

I really like the look of the box of ornaments.  I think I'll be doing another big still life with several boxes of ornaments, maybe a couple small poinsettias, a plate of cookies -- and.....? 

Lemon Meringue Pies

 "Lemon Meringue #1" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

  "Lemon Meringue #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

  "Lemon Meringue #3" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

  "Lemon Meringue #4" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Lemon Meringue #5" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

Lemon meringue pies are SO much fun to paint!  But the ones I've seen in the grocery stores around here look so nasty.  I baked this one a couple days ago.  Alas, I think lemon pie wants to be eaten the same day it is made: it deteriorates so quickly!  In reality, this slice of pie looked nothing like my paintings.  At two days old, the meringue was shrinking and the crust was soggy and falling apart.  Had to use my artistic license to "pretty it up" a little.

The first painting I did showed the slice on a green Depression glass plate.  I kind of liked the colors, but thought I probably should do the rest on a plain, white background.  

I enjoy painting one view (and I always use a little viewfinder at the start), then turning it slightly for the next painting.  One thing I found rather amazing was how intensely yellow-orange the lemon filling was in spots on the shadow side.  And the meringue was quite dark when in shadow.  I just have such a blast, painting lemon pie!  Thinking of doing a few more.  

And what about eating it?  I doubt it.  It really is quite a pitiful, soggy mess!  This might be something the chickens will savor.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blue & Orange Striped Pumpkin

 "Blue & Orange Striped Pumpkin" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

This was another great find in Traverse City, at the pumpkin stand last week.  All pumpkins were marked down to $1 each.  Such a deal!  It was raining cats & dogs, but I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around, picking out such fantastical pumpkins!  Where were these beauties when I was a kid?
We had another sunny day here yesterday -- an amazing thing for NW Michigan in November -- so I set up the trusty lawn chair in the yard, my Soltek, the BestBrella (to shade the back of my canvas) and got to work.  The 4 cats came by to check on me now and then.  Miss America (who is really a "he") jumped up onto my lap at one point.  He's the one who's broken so many of my glass vases.  At least he didn't jump up onto the wet palette.  

The temperature dropped dramatically as the winds picked up at 3:30 (as they usually do), giving me me a final urgency to finish. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big Blue Pumpkin

"Big Blue Pumpkin" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

I love all the unusual pumpkins they're coming out with these days!  When I was a kid, they only had orange.  Big ones & little ones.  So I've been going nuts, painting all the different ones I can find around here.  This one is so cool -- I love the blue tones!

We had a rare sunny day today, so I set my lawn chair out by the studio, plopped this pumpkin down and painted away.  Long about 3:30, the winds picked up and the temperature must have dropped a good ten degrees all of a sudden.  It helped "hurry up" my painting process!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lumpy Blue Pumpkin

"Lumpy Blue Pumpkin" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

Isn't this the coolest pumpkin?  I found it at a roadside stand by Traverse City a couple weeks ago.  To me, it looks a bit on the blue side.  And the lumps just made it even more amazing!  
At first I set it down in the green grass, where I'd painted my other pumpkins.  But since it's rather blue-ish, I thought it might look better in warmer rust tones -- dry grass and fallen leaves.  
The sun struggled to come out this afternoon.  And it was pretty chilly.  I had to wear my down winter coat to paint this.  The wind was pretty steady, blowing my hat off a couple times.  But at least there were no mosquitoes!
Right after I finished painting, the light rain started.  Great timing! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Warty Pumpkin #2

 "Warty Pumpkin #2" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x12"  -- Margie Guyot

Setup for "Warty Pumpkin #2"

I guess you could say I love pumpkins.  When I was a kid there only seemed to be one or two types: the big, jack-o-lanterns and the little pie pumpkins.  My sister and I just loved picking out pumpkins!  Some years my dad would drive us around to several pumpkin stands to find "just the right ones".  

Now that more and more interesting-looking varieties are coming onto the market, I get excited each October, looking to see what the growers have come up with.  If the cold and snow can hold off a little longer, I still have another pumpkin or two to paint.  This is the first year I've tried painting them in this setting.  

While the Northeast was busy digging out from their early snowstorm yesterday, I was sitting on my front lawn, wearing my down coat, and trying to paint this second type of "warty" pumpkin.  Sorry, I don't know the name of the variety.  And I'd gotten a rather late start (3:30) and not only was the sun going down, but the rain was moving in.  Had to use my #8 flat brush and work fast!  The raindrops began just as I was putting on the finishing touches.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Splotchy Pumpkin

 Setup for painting "Splotchy Pumpkin" -- 10/28/11

"Splotchy Pumpkin" -- oil on canvas 18x24" -- Margie Guyot

We had 2 bouts of sleet in the morning.  It was very gloomy and wet.  Then all of a sudden the clouds moved out about noon and voila -- dazzling sunshine!  Hallelujah!  I knew what I wanted to paint....

Last month I found this wonderful pumpkin in the Garden Center at Home Depot.  It was $8 -- highway robbery! -- but it was just too cool to pass up.  I'd seen other big "Cinderella" type pumpkins before, but none with these green splotches.  It's a big one, too.  Heavy.  I knew it would be a great subject to paint.

As with "Warty Pumpkin" (see previous post), I knew it would be more challenging to set it out on the front lawn to paint, as opposed to setting it on a white cloth.  But the green grass and colored leaves are just too marvelous to leave out!  I guess this would qualify as a "plein air still life". 

Normally I try to limit my canvas sizes in plein air to small, such as 8x10".  But this big pumpkin just had to be painted on a larger format!  Scrounging around in the back room, I managed to find a nice 18x24" blank, gallery-wrapped canvas.  

All of us "up north" artists are hoping for sales in this wretched economy, but I've decided to just paint what I just LOVE.  I don't know how many people would want to buy a painting of a pumpkin, but I just know that someday people will be fighting over them! 

Warty Pumpkin

 setup for painting "Warty Pumpkin" 10/27/11

"Warty Pumpkin" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

After about a week of gloomy, rainy, chilly days, the sun came out.  It was such a dazzlingly, glorious day!  Big, puffy clouds flying over.  I wanted to take my easel to the beach and do a bunch of cloud studies.  But then the phone rang.  Good news and bad news.  A friend met a friend who knows a rich art buyer who spends moolah dollars on car paintings.  My friend knows I have scads of them sitting, collecting dust in my studio.  The bad news: I had to re-photograph them ALL and resize into both 72 and 300  dpi.  It took about 3 1/2 hours.  Definitely NOT my favorite thing to do, especially when the sky was so spectacular-looking!
But I did it.  Sent all the 72 dpi images to my friend so she can make a presentation to the potential buyer.  Alas --- by then it was 3:30.  Clouds had all gone.  Clear blue sky.  And I was kind of exhausted from having to use so much left-brain energy.  What to do, what to do?

Instead of wasting time driving around, I decided to paint a picture of one of the odd-looking pumpkins I've collected this fall.  Setting it on a plain, white background would have been the easiest, but I really loved the colors of the green grass and fallen leaves.  So I plopped the little, warty pumpkin down on my front lawn, set up the Soltek and Best Brella and got out a lawn chair.  May as well get comfortable!  

Normally I stand while painting, but I knew if I sat, I'd be closer to the pumpkin and I liked the angle, the view that I saw while sitting.  OK, OK -- I also was kind of tired, so the lawn chair was the way to go.

I haven't done a whole lot of "in the grass" closeup paintings.  I wasn't entirely sure I could pull it off.  And it was kind of late in the afternoon when I got started, so I was under-the-gun, time-wise, as well.  So yes, I used my trusty #6 flat bristle brush to do the whole painting.  I love this particular brand because it holds a nice, crisp edge.  I can paint finer lines with it (if I want) than if I use a smaller brush.  Generally speaking, that is.  Signatures always require a small Kolinsky sable.

Besides the late-day pressure, the temperature became an issue as well.  Around 4, 4:15 there was a noticeable temperature drop.  It's usually around this time of day when the wind direction changes and it gets a good 10 degrees cooler.  Feeling the chill, I thought feets, don't fail me now!  Painted as fast as I could.

This was so much fun, I really want to paint more!  If only the weather holds out....!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Apples

 "Granny Smith #1" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

"Granny Smith #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot
"Granny Smith #3" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot
"Granny Smith #4" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot
 "Honeycrisp #4" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Honeycrisp #5" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot
 "Honeycrisp #6" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot
 "Zestar #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

"Antique #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

The weather's turned foul lately, so instead of going out plein air landscape painting, I'm hunkered down in the studio, painting some of our new crop of apples.  This area is known for its fruit production and the apples are the best!  My favorites are the honeycrisp and sweet tangoes.  To paint them, I set a cardboard box on the studio table, cover it with a while paper towel and paint it from life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


"Cornstalks" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

The other day my friend Al Maciag and I were driving south on 31 when we spied this field of old-fashioned cornstalks.  Wow!  What an idea for a painting!  So yesterday morning we stopped at the farmer's house to try to get permission to be in his field.  I rang the doorbell and pounded on the door, but nobody was home.  We decided to just tresspass.  What the heck.  Live large.

I really loved the design of the cornstalks and the cool morning light!  It would have been fun to stay and do another painting, but we felt we were pushing our luck.  The farmer could come out with a shotgun.  So we vamoosed on down the road.

Full Moon

 "Full Moon -- Rex Beach" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

 "Full Moon and Cloud" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" 

"Full Moon -- Scott Road" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

The other night the full moon was glorious!  I tend to hit the sheets pretty early, but I was just WIRED!  How could I possibly sleep when it was so beautiful outside??  I'd never painted en plein air during a full moon, but nothing was going to stop me. 

Since you see only 3 values during a full moon, the darkest dark, a medium sky tone and the bright moon, painting is relatively easy.  I pre-mixed a dark-dark and a medium tone in the studio before I ventured out.  Once out on location, I only had to turn on my flashlight a relatively few times to see what I was doing.

First stop was my favorite hang-out, Rex Beach.  You can drive right down to the water.  As usual, I had the entire park -- hell! the entire coastline! -- to myself.  Normally I park back in the parking lot, but I felt daring enough to park on the sand.  Sometimes people get stuck there, so I very carefully cruised through in low gear.  It was SO wonderful to be down at the water's edge, painting!  All I could hear was gentle waves and once in a while a coyote yipping.  Still, I did look around once in a while for any approaching cougars.

A big cloud moved over the sky and as it passed under the moon, I was amazed to see the rusty tones and hints of ochre!  Very bizarre.  

I only had 3 panels with me, so the last painting was done on my road: Scott Road.  I could have painted ALL NIGHT.  Really a blast!  Maybe this winter I'll try doing it in the snow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Country Road - Leelanau County

"Country Road - Leelanau County" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

Love those cool shadows across the gravel roads!  While painting this one, I turned to my friend Al Maciag (who was painting a few feet away) and said, "This looks like a pile of gumballs!"  But I stuck with it and managed to get a decent painting.  Sometimes a few bold, straight (more or less!) strokes can make clarity out of chaos! 

Cornfield in Leelanau County

"Cornfield -- Leelanau County" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

I loved seeing the corn rows and just had to try painting them!  NW Michigan is in its full autumn splendor this week.  The farmers are hurridly bringing in crops and the sounds of tractors and heavy machinery is everywhere.  As I painted, there was a wonderful smell -- rather like a hickory wood fire was burning somewhere.  Thin, high clouds were moving in from the west.  In a few more days rain will be moving in.

Ferry Road

"Ferry Road - October" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

This is the second painting I did yesterday, as part of the plein air paint-out, sponsored by the Charlevoix Circle of Arts.  My friend Al Maciag and I headed out on Ferry Road, south of Charlevoix, as it's one of our favorite areas to paint.  We love the views along the gravel road.  This is a big farming area, with lots of orchards and dairy farms.  I'm a real sucker for painting along roads!  
In the distance, on the right, is the edge of a cornfield.  The farmers are working hard this week, harvesting corn, as rain is moving in later in the week.  Several tractors and other big machinery passed by us as we painted along the road.  I'd pulled my car completely off the road, as it's not a good idea to be in a farmer's way!  We were serenaded by the roar of farm machinery the whole afternoon.

Fisherman's Island

"Fisherman's Island Park - Morning" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

This was the first painting of the day, done on the road at Fisherman's Island State Park, just south of Charlevoix, Michigan.  The trees are in full glory now, loaded in golds and reds.  A glimpse of Lake Michigan showing on the right, with Fisherman's Island in the distance.  The lake is low and you can walk on dry land all the way over to the island.  
I love painting shadows falling across the road (as if you didn't know that by now).  As I painted at the side of the road, big RVs rattled past, kicking up clouds of dust.  Fortunately, the wind was blowing steadily from the west, so I wasn't covered in it.  That's not always the case!   


Monday, October 3, 2011


 "Antique #1" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Honeycrisp #1" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Honeycrisp #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Honeycrisp #3" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Zestar #1" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

 "Zestar #2" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

"Sweet Tango" -- oil on canvas 6x6" -- Margie Guyot

I hadn't painted an apple since about 1997.  Then about a week ago one of my friends, Caesar Citraro, asked if I'd give a short painting demonstration at a class he was teaching.  It was a cold, rainy week, so the demo painting would have to be inside.  What to paint?  
Then I realized that the Charlevoix Apple Fest was coming up fast (October 14 - 16).  Aha!  Why not paint apples?  

Compared to cupcakes, apples are a lot easier.  No pleated, paper cups, no intricate frosting swirls.  In short, apples are a JOY to paint!  I love their bright colors and shininess.

During the painting demo, another friend, Karen Kimmel, gave me a Sweet Tango apple to paint.  After the painting was done she cut it up for people to taste.  This is the first year for sweet tangoes around here.  Wow!  That's one crispy, juicy apple!  Given the choice between having $5 worth of dark chocolate and $5 worth of sweet tangoes, the apples win!

So with the arrival of new, juicier apples (such as honeycrisp, zestar and sweet tango), some of the older varieties are falling out of favor, it seems.  Another friend close by has acres of old apple trees.  They haven't been pruned or sprayed in years.  Still, they manage to produce apples.  And there are 4 apple trees on my property.  I haven't a clue what variety they are.  I don't spray them and they are covered in scabs, but once peeled, they still make a good pie.  Apples I don't know the names of I'm calling "Antique".  Stay tuned!

Late September Sunsets

 "Sunset #1: Rex Beach, 9/28/11"  -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

 "Sunset #2: Rex Beach, 9/28/11"  -- oil on birch panel 8x16" -- Margie Guyot
Running behind on my blog posts again!  Towards sunset there was an interesting bank of clouds moving toward the west.  I threw all my gear into the car and headed down to my favorite spot, Rex Beach, south of Charlevoix.  That's the Leelanau Peninsula in the background.
It's amazing how quickly the sky changes!  I painted as quickly as possible to finish the first one, then walked it back to the car.  Sitting finished, wet oil paintings on the sand, I discovered to my chagrin, is a no-no!  Although it might seem to be calm, there is always a little breeze going on down at sand-level.  I have a beach painting that's covered with a fine layer of sand.  And contrary to what people say, it does NOT brush off once the painting is dry!  Same goes for bugs, too.  They are attracted to wet paint and by golly -- they die there.  I end up having to paint over them later.
By the time I got back down to the easel everything had changed.  The sun had actually dipped below the horizon, but there was still plenty enough light to see to paint.  I liked the clouds, how they appeared "dotty" at the top. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

9/23/11 Sunset at Rex Beach

"9/23/11 Rex Beach at Sunset" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10"

It had been an absolutely gorgeous September afternoon, with clear, blue skies.  That morning I'd butchered one of the rabbits (quite a job -- I was new to the procedure!).  And it seemed like I'd labored most of the afternoon, making rabbit stew.  Which was an adventure in itself.  

As evening approached, a large cloud bank came out of the East, promising for an interesting sunset.   It appeared my long-awaited rabbit stew was finally ready.  Ah, the dilemma: paint or eat?  But the clouds looked so wonderous, I just had to shut off the stove, cover the pot, throw my Soltek easel into the car and head down to Rex Beach.  All I'd eaten all afternoon was the rabbit liver (which was delicious!), but eating could wait!

Good thing I'd put on a polartec jacket AND a windbreaker: it was getting a bit nippy!  I set up on my favorite spot, next to a couple relatively flat large rocks, with a view across Grand Traverse Bay towards Northport.  As usual, I had the entire coastline to myself.  Sunsets change SO rapidly, there's no time to chitchat or dither.  It's a race to finish!  Ten, fifteen minutes and the show's over.  Darkness descends.

As I was packing up, a minivan pulled up into the boat launch area and parked.  It was driven by a young woman nurse who had taken her patient, a quadriplegic older man, for a view of the sunset.  They were both friendly.  We talked briefly as she exercised her patient's legs.  Like many of us up here, she'd moved up from one of the Detroit suburbs.  The man seemed in good spirits.  I could see he was in good hands.

So it was another experience reminding me of the importance of making the most of every day.  Everything is a choice: do we want to lay on the couch, watching TV -- or do we want to go paint a sunset?  The rabbit stew?  It was just perfect!  Oh, and I only had 2 bugs stuck in my paint at the end.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rex Beach 9-15-11

 "Rex Beach - 9/15/11" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 8x16"

setup at Rex Beach 9/15/11

All day long the clouds were SO fantastic!  I waited until late in the day, then drove to my favorite spot, Rex Beach.  Glad I'd dressed in layers -- that wind was howing the whole time and it was pretty chilly.  Here I'm looking over Grand Traverse Bay to the Leelanau Peninsula.  Parts of the peninsula were getting rain squalls.  
Up until this summer, I'd not tried painting in this type of format: long and narrow.  It's kind of fun to do, as I get to show more of the dramatic skies.  

And yes, that's a Soltek easel.  After having to get the legs repaired a couple times, I've finally learned to keep the leg tips enclosed in plastic.  Once sand gets inside, the legs go kaflooey!  Other than that, it's been a good easel.

As usual, I had the entire beach to myself.  This little park is only 3.5 miles from my house and I can drive very close to the beach.  There is a turnaround at water's edge, designed for boat drop-offs, but I've seen many people get stuck there.  Which is why I always park in the designated parking lot.  

Although it was still light enough to paint another, I thought it would be pushing my luck.  The rain squall might just hit in the middle of another painting.  I packed up and stashed everything into the car, then returned for a walk along the beach.  Found 2 small Petoskey stones (fossilized coral, originally formed along the coastline of Chile).  Beach visits always revive me!

Sometimes it's almost dark when I walk back to my car, carrying all my equipment.  That is when I think about packs of rabid coyotes, hungry bears, mountain lions on the prowl.