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.

Green Cabbage #2

"Green Cabbage #2" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 18x24" 
My neighbors, Sue & Shirley, have 3 giant, organic vegetable gardens they call Verdant Ground.  Their cabbages are always so beautiful, I love painting them!  Alas, this summer I had such a busy schedule, it wasn't until mid-September before I took the time to bring my easel over to paint anything.  And I wore long pants, shoes and socks!  Last summer I had a bumblebee crawl up my capri pants and sting in back of my knee.  OWWWW!

The late-afternoon sun hits the leaves at an angle, making the veins seem to glow.  Love that!  

Normally I do plein air paintings in a smaller format, such as 8x10", but because these cabbages are so huge, it seems a shame to restrict them to such a small painting.  And I'd done 2 similarly-sized cabbage paintings here last year.  So I thought it would be good to do them all the same size.  And that means using big brushes and painting as fast as possible!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Demitasse and Orchid

"Demitasse and Orchid" -- oil on canvas 36x48" -- Margie Guyot

Running WAY behind on my posts!  Trying to catch up.  This painting I did a few years ago.  Right now it's hanging in Gallery 50, in Traverse City, in their "Art of Food & Wine Show".  They had a chef judging the artwork this time and he awarded mine "this is so intense" award.  Which I take as a compliment!  I'd be horrified if it got a "this is so trite" award.  Or a "Thomas Kincade Wannabe" award.

It was really challenging to paint!  The "tablecloth" was fabric from Jo Ann Fabrics.  The pale green napkins were from a garage sale.  I'd found the red & white striped demitasse cups at a consignment shop.  They knocked my socks off, so I HAD to try painting them!  Ascending spirals on vertical tubes -- just try painting those!  Many wipe-outs.  

Other "many wipe-outs" occurred while attempting to paint the wooden stand the orchid is sitting on.  I always work from life, never from a projected photograph, so the trouble happens when I stand and look, then step forward to paint, then step back to look -- and by standing in just a fraction of an inch differently, the angles all look different.  So it's a struggle.

Because I paint from life, some things rot before the painting is finished.  Waste not, want not: I painted the bowl of strawberries quickly as possible, then ate them.  And the cookies -- same way.  Painted them & ate them.  Then it was on to other things.

That orchid was wonderful.  It lasted for months.  I did 3 or 4 paintings of it before it finally dropped its flowers.  It's still alive here, but hasn't bloomed yet this summer.  Maybe it's mad at me?