Thursday, December 27, 2012

Striped Cat Teapot on Batik Shawl

"Striped Cat Teapot on Batik Shawl" -- oil on canvas 18x18" -- Margie Guyot
Here it is, dead of winter in Northern Michigan, and the temperature's in the teens.  So why not paint a "springy" type painting with daffodils (OK, so they're silk!) and a bright batik sarong?  I love this teapot (I'd used it in a recent painting already) and the whole thing kind of brightened things up around here this week.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Granny Smiths on an Orange Morning Glory Cloth

"Granny Smiths on an Orange Morning Glory Cloth" -- oil on canvas 22x28" -- Margie Guyot
Everybody thinks of Granny Smith apples as being pure green.  Well, not always!  I recently found a bag of locally-grown ones, produced by Friske's Orchards, that had a surprising amount of red tones.  I knew I'd have to use them in a painting.  Notice the bruise on the apple on the far left? 
The vintage tablecloth is rather unusual, too.  I'd been rifling through a big stack of tablecloths at an antique show in Petoskey when I spied it.  All the others were the usual, predictable combinations of red and blue -- and they all looked alike.  I just loved the orange tones!
I always paint under natural light, setting up my still life compositions on a big table next to the windows on the south side of my studio.  Some artists love the constant, cool light of a north window, but I love the intensity of the south light, with its strong sunlight and shadow patterns.  Which you don't really see here this time.  Alas, northern Michigan skies are overcast pretty much all the time in winter!  Some days I had to quit painting at 3 PM, it was so dark I couldn't see the colors properly.
Apples are so much fun to paint!  So reflective!  And I love the vintage tablecloths.  The folds and wrinkles are challenging, which I enjoy.  Why waste time painting stuff that's too easy?       

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Pink Cyclamen on Striped Horse Blanket"

"Pink Cyclamen on Striped Horse Blanket" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

It's surprising how long I've managed to keep this pink cyclamen alive!  It's been what -- 6 weeks? -- since I bought it on sale at Pine Hill Nursery. Every once in a while I'll come into the studio to find it horribly wilted, flowers all laying down.  I'll give it some water and within hours, it looks bright and perky again.  So I just had to use it in another painting before it finally croaks.

My painter friend, Al Maciag, gave me some horse blankets he'd picked up in a garage sale.  I liked this one because of the pink stripes.  But I quickly realized how difficult this painting would be!  I always love to toss the fabric down onto the work table and let the folds fall naturally.  Just try painting stripes on folds!  It got to be pretty challenging.

Painting lots of leaves is not my favorite thing to do, but there's not much else to do up here in the far north, in winter.  No TV reception, gardening season is over, so it becomes a choice of "do I want to clean house" or paint. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Apples on a Calla Lily Cloth

"Apples on a Calla Lily Cloth" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot
Having just finished another painting with this vintage tablecloth, I had a hankering to yet another one.  But what to pair with it?  I'd found this wonderful glass bowl a couple months ago at a resale shop, but what to put in it?  I live in the hinterlands.  It's not just a 10 minute drive to a grocery store or flower shop.  I kind of wanted to find something -- some kind of flower or fruit that would jive with the colors.
Then I found these honeycrisp apples in my fridge.  OK, it's a bit of a stretch, but they do have slightly pinkish tones, here and there.    Well, sort of!  Considering the colors of the tablecloth, maybe there isn't much in nature than would match all that well.
We always read about painters and their struggles.  Up here, it's always a struggle to try to paint a still life with a strong sense of "sunlight and shadow".  Cold air flowing over relatively warm Lake Michigan results in mostly cloudy days and snow flurries.  A gimpse of sun is a surprise.  People will actually call each other up on the phone, saying, "Wow -- would ya look at that sun!"  
Sometimes it's almost sad to finish a painting.  They're just so addictive!  SO much more fun than washing floors!  It's like doing a puzzle where you have to make all the pieces.  You can forget politics and religion.  Just zone out in your own little world.  For me, painting is a teeter-totter game between panic and control.  If you can control your panic (Yikes! How do I paint THAT?) and take your time (and wipe out what's not working), you can come up with a pretty good painting.  Oh, in case you're wondering, I buy Viva paper towels by the case.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Pink Cyclamen"

"Pink Cyclamen" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot
Weeks ago I'd bought this beautiful plant at Pine Hill Nursery, meaning to use it in a still life painting.  And I was super-busy, what with finishing up planting bulbs, putting away lawn furniture, etc.  Every time I'd go into my studio, I'd look at this plant and wonder how I'd set up a still life.  Cyclamen are kind of touchy plants.  It was loaded with buds, but it could die at any time. 
Finally a few days ago I pulled out a favorite vintage cloth, threw it onto the table and set the plant down.  Aha!  And the more wrinkled the cloth, the better! 
The sun was only out for a couple days, so I really tried to make note of how it looked.  And all those doggone leaves!  Oy vey!  Thought I'd go mad.  Really, making a successful painting requires learning how to control one's panic.  Just keep calm and plug away.  If something doesn't look right, wipe it out and try again.  I do go through a lot of Viva paper towels, by the way. 
I think it's a shame that they just don't make tablecloths the way they used to, don't you?

Guyer Creek #2

For the next painting of the day, I gathered up my painting gear and thrashed through the underbrush to a new spot along the creek.  My faithful companion, Picasso, sat on this log, watching me the whole time I painted. 
"Guyer Creek #2" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot
Here the creek is a smidgen wider.  With the wild tangle of grasses and fallen branches, it was the pale blueness of the water and the reflections that caught my eye.  It's really hard to do a decent painting of this kind of scene.  I've tried so many times to capture it over the years.  Seems like I'm improving on it, but I know it'll take many more painting attempts before I feel I've gotten it "right".

Guyer Creek #1

Guyer Creek setup #1
It was a balmy week, with high temperatures nearly 60 degrees.  We were all doing cartwheels for joy.  Yes, it was also deer season.  I know a woman who won't walk down to her mailbox during deer season!  But I wrapped a fluorescent yellow safety vest around and walked out into the cedar swamp in back of my studio building.  It's all my property back there and there shouldn't be any hunters back there anyway. 
Guyer Creek is a very shallow creek (usually) that empties into Lake Michigan.  I feel very fortunate to have it running through my property.  The land between it and my studio frequently floods and is nearly always mushy.  In the summer I don't go back there, as the mosquitoes are relentless.
"Guyer Creek #1" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10 -- Margie Guyot

It's kind of hard to come up with a halfway decent painting of this creek -- it's just a wild tangle of "stuff"!  What I loved was the water reflection.  And after the screaming greens of summer, it was a nice change to have the subtle mauves and golds. 

Deer Field #2

Setup for "Deer Field #2" -- plein air field study

"Deer Field #2" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot
All I had to do for this one was turn my field easel a little -- and there was a whole, new view.  It's just a simple field, but it's beautiful in all directions.  That's a basketbush in the foreground.  They're named for their basket-like shapes.  I believe they're a type of juniper.  In the back are two white cedars, another very familiar tree in this area.  Past that is a large cedar/aspen swamp.  It's almost impenetratable.  And past that is Lake Michigan, whose waves you can hear if the wind is right.
It was late afternoon when I painted this and the clouds were rolling in.  No sharp sunlight/shadow patterns today.  After having done a series of studio still lifes, it felt very good to get outside and paint!

The Deer Field

My setup for painting "The Deer Field #1"
"The Deer Field #1" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot
Here it was, early November, and we were having a week with "balmy" temperatures!  The sun was "sorta-kinda" out, which cheered everybody considerably.  After a series of studio paintings, I was in the mood to get out and do some plein air landscapes.  But I didn't want to drive for miles.  This field is directly west of my driveway.  I've always loved it but hadn't painted it.  There is a deer path that runs along this basketbush (in the foreground). 

When I painted this, the clouds were moving in and there were no more strong sunlight/shadow shapes.  But that's OK, too.  I always love the soft colors of late fall.  There is a mixture of meadow grasses, mosses and bracken in this sandy field.  Lake Michigan is about 1/2 mile due west.  If the wind is right, you can hear the waves crashing on the shore.

Two more pumpkins

"Polka Dot" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

"Blue Satin" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

These are some of the amazing pumpkins I found at a roadside stand in Traverse City.  It's at an old gas station and every fall it's packed with pumpkins, gourds, apples and cider.  I think pumpkins are just so much fun to paint!  When I was a kid, all they had were orange ones.  My dad would drive us kids from stand to stand, searching for "the perfect pumpkin".  And now there are such cool varieties!
I find it hard to resist painting them every fall.  Last year I did quite a few; this year I painted just a couple.  My time was eaten up by planting 1500 English bluebell bulbs, 80 parrot tulips, 20 oriental lilies and an assortment of shrubs.  I did them all in 3 weeks.  You just never know when the weather will turn foul. 

Green Brandywine

"Green Brandywine" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot
Once again I'm running way behind on my posts.  I painted this on October 31st, after a quick trip to my "home away from home", Pine Hill Nursery.  I'd bought a few plants on sale and saw this green brandywine tomato sitting on a stone wall.  Knowing how much I enjoy painting things like this, they gave it to me. 
Already it was beginning to rot.  See the black area on the lower left?  The new plants had to wait while I painted this.  I loved the way the shiny green tomato reflected the reds of the cloth!  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Northern Lights!

"Northern Lights -- Rex Beach" -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot
This morning I happened to wake up at 4 AM.  Glancing out the north-facing window, something struck me as very unusual: it was way too bright for that hour of the morning. It was a guess, but I figured it just had to be the northern lights.  I'd never seen them before.  Yes, it was ungodly early, but what the heck -- I threw on my robe and slippers and drove my car down to Rex Beach, about 3 miles away. 
I dared parking right on the sand and got out.  There they were!!!  All across the northern sky, shimmering and pulsating!  Unlike many of the popular photos, they appeared fairly colorless.  But still, I was so excited I could have done cartwheels!  I wrapped my excitement in 2 old afghans from the back of the car.  It was kind of chilly out on the beach.
It was surprising.  The sky wasn't pitch black.  I don't know if you could even call it "black", but the darkest parts were the distant line of trees and the line of shrubs and grass on the beach.  The sky was almost a medium tone.  In the distance were low-ling clouds.  And the lights themselves were not a brilliant light, but more of a soft, blurry non-color.  I stared at these things, trying to make myself remember.  A shooting star flew by.
No camera.  No paintbox.  Alas!  But I did grab my mileage log book and do a quick pen sketch.  Later in the morning - when it became light enough to see -- I did an oil painting of the scene, referring to my sketch.  

Here's my reference sketch.  Solar flares are predicted to continue for the next year or so, so I hope to get to make more observations -- and paintings.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cat Teapots

"Cat Teapots" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

Believe me, it'll be a loooong time before I ever paint this tablecloth again!  Thought my eyeballs were going to fall out!  I had to take frequent breaks, hoping the Good Fairy would paint it in for me.  Alas, no such luck.  But the black and white color scheme tied in so well with the two cat teapots, I just had to use it.  Do you notice the blue and pink cast tones from the flower vase and the pink glass bowl?  I love looking for stuff like that when I set up an arrangement.  Things like that make a painting come alive.

The black cat teapot I bought about 30 years ago and somehow it's survived.  I used to keep it on my stovetop and whenever the little neighbor boy came in, he kept a good distance.  He said the eyes frightened him.  The striped teapot I picked up in a garage sale in Bay Harbor this summer.  That was probably what inspired this painting.  Painting the reflections on these was so much fun!

If you've followed my blog posts for a while, the pink glass bowl may be familiar.  I'm fascinated by it and have used it in several paintings.  It's really difficult to draw and paint!  Lots of distortions and reflections to try to catch.  Each time I paint it, it looks a little better.  Monet had his haystacks, so I guess you could say I've got my pink glass bowl.

My ascendant (astrologically-speaking) is Cancer, the Crab.  We Cancers LOVE bags and boxes.  It's been said that if you give us a wrapped present, chances are we'll love the wrappings far more than the actual present itself!  I think that's true.  I love this polka-dot bag!  It came from a fancy dress shop in Petoskey, Talula Boutique.  How could I throw such a marvelous bag away?  I've been saving it (and others) for use in still lifes.  And that hot pink tissue!  I just love stuff like this!

It's been a while since I've used shoes in a still life setup, but this seemed to call for some.  These beauties were a Goodwill find.  Not my size, but hey -- the color just made me feel like doing cartwheels across the store!  I love painting shoes.  Such interesting shapes, colors and reflections!

To echo the hot pink tissue, I plucked a few geranium blooms from the plants on the studio windowsill.  Some of my plants are 6 years old (or more).  They seem to do much better inside the studio during the winter than they do out on the patio all summer.  Go figure. 

I'll be having to take a brief break from painting.  1500 English bluebell bulbs just arrived the other day, so it'll be one mad rush to plant them all before the ground freezes.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Corn and Tomatoes

"Corn and Tomatoes" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot
A few weeks ago I revisited a favorite, funky gift shop at Stonehedge Gardens, near Charlevoix.  They always have such cool stuff!  This metal basket was so interesting-looking, I had to get it.  And that's a "new" vintage tablecloth.  Then it was a short trek down to Eastport Market, where I snagged a dozen ears of sweet corn.  Not one to waste resources, I carefully bagged the corn at the end of each painting session and returned it to the fridge.  And the tomatoes are from the neighbor women's garden.  They were monsters (the tomatoes, not the women) that weighed 2 pounds apiece!  I like the Brandywines.  Not only do they taste good, but they have such interesting coloration.
As a final touch I decided to add a few sprigs of goldenrod and some sunflowers.  They're a new kind of sunflower variety that is kind of like a black-eyed susan.  Somehow they managed to survive the deer this year.  The first blossom I painted looked awful.  I'd painted it facing straight at the viewer.  It stuck out like a sore thumb!  So amateurish!  I wiped it all out (and what a mess that was!) and re-did it in a more natural pose.  I was so happy to finally finish this one, I had to celebrate by hauling more buckets of rocks.  But that's another story....

Apples, apples, apples!

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

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

In my spare moments (ha ha) I've been painting all kinds of apples.  So far I've painted about 55 apples.  Here are just a few of the ones I've done.  Painting this many apples is good for "keeping in practice".  I've found that my skills of observation have sharpened over this past year.  And OK -- I admit it: I am starting to grow weary of painting apples!  

Two Nocturnes

"Full Moon over Grand Traverse Bay" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 10x8" -- Margie

"Lights over Northport" -- plien air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

My plein air setup on Rex Beach

At the beginning of September we had a full moon.  Since I'm an early-riser by nature, it was no trouble at all to drive down to Rex Beach and paint @ 5AM.  I waited until that hour so the moon would be in a better position over the lake.  OK, I admit it: I pre-mixed a dark and a medium tone in the studio, where I could see what I was doing.  For the most part, I was able to paint solely by the light of the full moon.  Once in a while I had to turn on the flashlight.  The second painting happened about 5:45 AM, when things were starting to lighten up a little.  The sun still hadn't risen and everything was a deep gray.


"Pink Begonia" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

"Yellow Begonia" -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

"White Begonia" -- oil on canvas 11x14" -- Margie Guyot
These begonias were on end-of-season sale at Pine Hill Nursery so I snapped them up.  I loved the wonderful shapes and colors of the leaves.  The flowers are gorgeous, too.  I wish I could keep them over the winter, but begonias are one of the plants that I seem to kill within weeks!  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bowl of Cherries

"Bowl of Cherries" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

After suffering out in the 90+ degree heat and humidity, doing the 2 recent plein air paintings, I was happy to retreat into my relatively cool studio!  It's the height of cherry season here, although most of Michigan's cherry crop was ruined this spring by a late frost.  Most of the cherries in the stores are imports from Washington state.

I ate a lot of cherries while painting this!

I ran out of big canvases, so decided to do something smaller.  Art supply stores in NW Michigan are few and far between, so I get most of my supplies online.  Shipping "oversize" canvases has become crazily expensive: there is an extra $110 oversize delivery charge.  Even after paying the extra fee, there's no guarantee of getting your order intact.  Last year I was working in my garden when I heard a strange sound.  I looked up to see a delivery guy DRAGGING my two boxes of canvas all the way down my gravel driveway!  He said he didn't feel confident enough to back his semi down my driveway.  He didn't care that they were ripped to shreds by the gravel.  Yes, I got a refund, but still -- you'd think by paying $110 extra, you'd at least get your canvases delivered in good condition.  I don't know how I'll get more.

Some things I never tire painting.  I love the old tablecloths!  It's fun to just toss them onto the table and leave them stay mussed up.  Painting folds is challenging -- but fun!  And the pink glass bowl -- yikes! -- it's really hard.  But what else is there to do?  Weed in the garden?  Wash floors?  Hah. 

Hay Bales

"Hay Bales" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

As I drove into the Maple Conservancy (north of Traverse City, along US 31), I spied this big hay bale in the field of spotted knapweed.  Aha!  It "spoke" to me.  I love spotted knapweed when it blooms -- a soft lavendar.  Maybe some view it as a pest, but I think it's spectacular.  Most of my yard at home is full of it.

This haybale seemed almost to "glow" in the blazing sunlight.  I was fascinated.

Over the years I've learned to always pay attention to whatever strikes me as "amazing".  That's what I have to paint.  If I don't feel amazed by something I'm trying to paint, it shows in the  painting.  Once in a while I won't see anything amazing, so that's when I'll paint a view of a parked car.

Sunflower Field

"Sunflower Field" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 8x16" -- Margie Guyot

This is the first time in the 5 years I've been up here that I made it to this sunflower field while they still looked good!  I'd always get here when the yellow petals had fallen, shriveled, to the ground and it looked dismal.  So it was kind of exciting to finally get here at the right time! 

This field is one of several, just north of Traverse City, MI, along US 31.  As my friend, Al Maciag, and I painted, several cars stopped to snap photos of the field. 

See the blue haze on the distant hill?  A sign of humidity rising.  And yes, it certainly is humid up here!  The day we painted, the temperature soared into the 90's.  Al and I both wear hats while we paint and we both use BestBrellas to shade our palettes and canvases.  Still, it was sweltering.  From here, we crossed 31 over to the west side, where there was an old barn and hay bales.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Frog Party

"Frog Party" -- oil on canvas 40x50" -- Margie Guyot

As I threw this vintage tablecloth down onto my work surface, I wondered what I had in my treasure trove that was green.  Why, my frog teapot set, of course!  I've painted it several times in the past.  The teapot and sugar/creamer came from a garage sale in my old neighborhood of Farmington Hills.  Then I found the pitcher on eBay!  And by now I'm sure you've guessed that I love frogs.

But I've learned NOT to tell everybody that I love frogs.  That can backfire.  Then people start giving me all kinds of frogs -- and there are a lot of pitiful, crappy-looking frogs!  No, I like only certain frogs.  Like there is "tacky but cool" and then there is "tacky but pathetic".  There IS a difference.

The green problem solved, the next search was for "things orange".  Once again, that slot was filled by my vintage orange-striped glasses.  I've painted them several times and they're tricky!  The stripes wiggle and the widths are not all the same.  But they're addictive to paint, kind of like Monet's haystacks. 

By some miracle, my orange tiger lilies were blooming fabulously this year.  It's been hot and dry.  The deer -- naughty little things! -- love chewing all the leaves and buds off.  I've tried to keep up with spraying the Liquid Fence.  Still, the deer manage to squirrel away with some of my flowers.  I cut off a stalk and used a wire frog in another favorite: the frog vase from the Ann Arbor Art Fair.   The potter team of Rita Meech and Terry Oss created this.  Here's a link to their page:  I love everything they do!

I always start a painting by first lightly penciling in the crosshairs.  Then I look through my little view-finder to decide what is in the exact center of the composition.  From there, it's a rather tedious process of continually looking through the viewfinder and comparing sizes of objects and their placement.  I use my paintbrush like a sort of ruler, comparing the width of objects to others.  This is one place where it's a test of being able to control one's panic! 

But still, compared to weeding the garden in 90+ degree weather, with biting mosquitoes and deer flies, I'll take the drawing-in task every time!

Because flowers die so quickly, once I had established the basic placement of a few main objects, I immediately concentrated on painting the lily bloom.  By the next day, lily bloom #2 was open.  I left this painting with only 1 open bloom, though.  Like trying to paint constanly-changing shadow patterns in the landscape, I tend to nail the initial idea down and stick with it.  Chasing shadows (or opening/dying blossoms) could drive a painter berserk!

Last year a gallery had told me they loved my work BUT some elements of it they found "disturbing".  They told me they didn't want to see anything like frog teapots, deer antlers, stuffed fish, etc.  And they loved the complex compostions, BUT they wanted small paintings.  Yikes!  I tried to tow the line for them, but even so, they only sold one or two pieces of mine.  Then they emailed me, saying "come get your stuff".  Ha ha!  I guess you could call this my rebellion piece. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yellow Shawl and Glads

"Yellow Shawl and Glads" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

This is the yellow silk shawl I'd bought at Stonehege Gardens.  On the way home from buying it, I stopped in at Glen's grocery store, looking like a crazy woman in my new sparkly orange, dangling earrings, black T-shirt and green plaid man's shirt.  I'd been plein air painting with Jordan River Arts Club that morning and had completely forgotten how I was dressed. 
Wandering through Glen's, I spied these yellow gladiolas.  Aha! Perfect companions for the yellow shawl!  As soon as I got home, I set up this still life.  Because of the complexity of the shawl, there was no need to add more components.

From past experience, I knew not to waste time.  Those glads had to be painted -- and pronto!  It was agonizing.  Flowers are always a struggle (as is everything else)!  One would hope the fairies would magically paint them for me, but so far I haven't been so lucky. 

A few years ago I took a painting class with a certain artist (name withheld) and she took an immediate dislike to me.  I have no idea why.  We were painting landscapes, which I hadn't expected, as she was a surreal artist.  I felt a little disappointed, but heck -- as long as we were out there, in the beautiful Rockies, by a stream, I figured I might as well just enjoy it.  "Obviously this comes easy to you!" she snapped, during a critique. 

"No, it's hard!" I replied.  I look at a scene and think holy crap -- this is going to be tough!  But I just plug along, figuring things out as I go.  Kind of like an algebra test.  And don't ask me anything about algebra.  I remember absolutely nothing.

So that's how I paint.  Just plug along, figuring things out as I go.  I knew to paint the gladiolas first, as they would poop out in a day or so.  Sometimes I'll finish painting one bloom, then wander outside to pull a few handfuls of weeds, fantasizing that all the blooms would paint themselves in my absence.  So far, no luck at that.  But eventually I do get them all done. 

The shawl was a pain to do, too.  The fairies were no help.  I do try to stick with it, though, as I usually am sick of looking at a painting after about a week.  To save myself further agony, I try to work quickly, so it'll be done in a week or less. 

Did you ever think artists went through such agony?

Mustard Field

"Mustard Field" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Ever in search of "spectacular", I about had a cow when I spied this field of mustard growing along M-88, between Eastport and Central Lake!  The next morning I was out there by 8 AM, painting it. 

I'm a sucker for long rows of plantings.  Or shady roads.  I just couldn't go out to a big field and do a painting of it.  A big field with no design to it, no features.  Some artists can make something of it, though.  Clyde Aspevig, whom I'd studied with back in the late 80's, would take our class out into a featureless landscape, set up and do a marvelous painting.  Then he'd turn to us and say, "OK -- paint!"  And leave us floundering and sputtering.  He's amazing.


"Delphinium" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

There are lots of plein air groups up here in Northwest Michigan.  After finishing "Circus Circus", a large still life, I was ready to go out and do a plein air -- just to clear out the cobwebs.  This group, from Jordan River Arts Council, went to a delightful spot in between Charlevoix and Boyne City.  The owners of Stonehedge Gardens invited us to come and paint.  As soon as I saw this clump of delphiniums, I knew I'd found my subject.

Whenever I go to a new spot to paint, the #1 question on my mind is always what is the most amazing thing here?  Loved that blue! 

It was hot and sunny.  What a day to find my BestBrella was not working right!  Doggone.  One of the gears was stripped.  I had to hold the umbrella in one hand while painting.  It's impossible for me to paint with sunlight glaring directly onto my canvas.  But I lived.  And I found out it is possible to order replacement parts for BestBrella. 

After painting this, I wandered inside Stonehedge's funky little gift shop.  It's the neatest gift shop I'd seen since New Mexico!  Not the usual tourist crap!  I found a pair of earrings I'd been looking for for years: bright orange, sparkly, dangly balls!  They're my favorites.   I put them on although they didn't go with my outfit (a black T-shirt and green man's work shirt). 

I also found a magnificent silk shawl, in yellow, with long fringe.  Perfect for a still life setup!  I'm into spectacular, if you haven't noticed by now.  "It used to belong to my mother," the woman told me.  Ah -- selling your mother's antique silk shawl?  Sacrilege.  I paid for it & hurried out, lest she changed her mind. 

Oh, and the earrings: I'd completely forgotten I had them on.  After leaving Stonehedge Gardens, I stopped in at Farm & Home to pick up a bag of chicken feed.  Then into Glen's for a few groceries.  People were looking at me funny.  Hmmmm....?  I got out to the car and looked in the mirror.  Hah!  I still had on my sparkly, dangly orange earrings!  I must have looked like a crazy woman.  Oh well. Wouldn't be the first time.

Circus Circus

"Circus Circus" -- oil on canvas 36x36" -- Margie Guyot

Oh, good heavens!  I've fallen way behind on my posts again.  Sorry!  Life's been a bit full this summer. 

I'm particularly fond of orchid cactii.  The flowers are huge and very colorful.  Why waste time (and space) growing anything less than spectacular?  The first time I'd ever seen an orchid cactus (a.k.a. "epiphyllum"), was in the conservatory at Belle Isle, Detroit.  What were those amazing flowers?  Nobody seemed to know.   It took years to find out what they were. 

I ordered a few epiphyllum leaves on eBay, believe it or not.  It only took a few more years before they were blooming like crazy.  They don't bloom all summer, though.  And each flower only lasts for about two days.  One variety, the night-blooming cereus, has flowers that only bloom for one night. 

When I noticed this plant ("Circus Circus") was beginning to bloom, I just had to use it in a still life!  I set it up with a vintage tablecloth and immediately began painting the flowers.  The one on the far right was starting to wilt and the other 3 were only in bud.  I painted as fast as I could. 

And then the iris began blooming!  I had to set this painting aside and do a whole slew of little iris paintings!  Flowers won't wait. 

Once the iris were exhausted, I got back to this painting.  By then all the blooms were brown and shriveled.  As most of my still lifes go, "it was a bitch to paint"!  But given the choice between weeding the veggie garden in the hot sun or figuring out how to paint something, painting wins every time.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Starting the day in the rain!  I huddled in the shelter of a friend's garage for the first half of this painting.  It was the morning of the annual Plein Air Paintout, sponsored by Crooked Tree Art Center, Petoskey, Michigan.  I almost didn't go, since it was raining pretty hard in the morning.  But it was supposed to clear by noon, so out I went. 

"Blue Truck" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

Whenever I'm out plein air painting, if I don't see anything interesting to paint, I find a vehicle of some kind.  At least they're big and reflective!  And don't think that because I've painted lots of cars that I find them easy to do!  No!  It's always a struggle.  I've just learned to control my panic.  Just stay calm and "measure" everything with my brush, find out where lines relate.  And I do lots of wipe-outs.  About halfway through this painting the rain stopped and the sun came out and things got exciting!

"Irish Hills, N. of Petoskey" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas 10x20" -- Margie Guyot

Not far from the truck painting site, I saw a sign for a development that never got off the ground.  No homes had been built.  It looked like a beautiful place, so I parked on the side of a hill and painted.  It was very windy and I could not use my BestBrella.  I was using a stretched canvas and the sunlight was shining through the back of the canvas, which was making it very difficult to see.  And the sun was glaring on my palette, confusing the situation even more.  My hat almost blew off several times.  Hmmmm.... let's see how many more excuses I can come up with!

An added bonus: when packing up to leave, I looked down on the ground.  Right by my car door was a huge Petoskey stone!  I had a small trowel in the car and managed to dig it out.  That thing has got to weigh 20 pounds!

"Emmet Heights Road"  plein air field study -- oil on birch panel 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

This was my favorite painting of the day (the 4th didn't photograph well).  I'm a sucker for this type of scene.  I especially appreciated the fact that I could stand in the blessed shade to paint it!  This was the last painting of the day and I was sunburned, exhausted, sweaty and glad to see an end to things! 

This road is on the way to an excellent musical instrument repairman, Paul Bianchi.  Our sax quartet knows it well!

I live 1 1/2 hours south of Harbor Springs, where the show opening was to be held.  All paintings were due framed and ready to hang by 5 PM.  I ended up going to a shady park and doing all my framing in the back of my Flex.  Some dude was sitting at a picnic table, reading with a radio turned on to loud rock music.  Ugh!  Then a motorcycle gang came through, but they were OK. 

I had no time (or energy!) to drive home, shower and gussy-up.  I looked ragged at the reception, but I really didn't care!  The truck painting won First Place! 

Was one tired puppy when I finally got home.  Unloaded everything, grabbed a beer and sank into the hot tub.  Ahhhhhh!  But I had to get out after about 5 minutes.  The mosquitoes were eating me alive!

more spring flowers

Still struggling to catch up on my posts!  Here are a few more spring flower paintings I did.  All were painted from life, in oils, on 6x6" stretched canvas.  Alas, no more tulips, daffodils until next spring....

June Iris

It's hot, windy and the Japanese beetles are everywhere outside, so I'm trying to catch up with my blog posts.  I'd been too busy painting for the past month.  This latest entry shows most of the iris I've painted in the past couple weeks.  Most are from the Iris Farm, west of Traverse City.  The 2 "black" iris popped up in my yard.  I don't think I could pick a favorite color, although the "black" ones were kind of fun, for a change.  It was heavenly, sitting in  my studio, painting these -- and smelling them. 

I've planted dozens and dozens of iris along both sides of my long driveway.  They're pretty much finished blooming, but when they were in bloom, the smell was unbelieveable!

All were painted from life, in oils, on 6x6" stretched canvas.