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.