Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"White Cattaleya Orchid"

"White Cattelaya Orchid" -- oil on canvas 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

Why settle for nondescript, insipid houseplants when you can have orchids?  That's my philosopy.  I'd bought this plant about 15 years ago at a garage sale in Birmingham, Michigan.  It was big then and kept getting "huger and huger" (pardon my English!).  It'd become so pot-bound it quit flowering.  Oy vey -- the mess of untangling the mad snarl of roots!  I separated it into about 5 plants a couple years ago and now each plant is a flowering fool!

Besides being beautiful and stupendous, these orchids have a faint, sweet scent.  And my house sure can use some sweet scents.  I've got 4 cats.

But you want to read about this painting!  OK, ok.  Before I did this particular painting, I did a close-up view of the orchid.  But I thought it was depressing.  It looked too trite!  I just cannot abide trite.  No, what this wonderful plant needed was to be be featured in its full glory: sprawling madly across a larger canvas!

But how should I arrange it?  What color scheme?  More and more, thinking about the overall color scheme is something I consider first of all.  I laid back on my studio couch, feeling agitated, thinking color...color...color....  Then my eyes fell on a painting I did last year, all in shades of gold and lavender.  Aha!

And since Easter is on the horizon, I wanted to include (finally!) an old, metal cake pan in the shape of a lamb.  It'd been another resale shop find.  And a conch shell -- how Easter-y is that?  Ha ha. 

I love that silk shawl!  The fringe on the edges almost gives is an "in flight" sort of feel, like the Magic Orchid is out for a cruise. 

In the background, on the upper left, is an antique yellow dish that I love.  It's got a "busy" pattern to it and casts the most interesting shadows.  Next to it is an antique ice cream dish. 

I love painting shells!  Maybe I should have moved nearer to the ocean.  Did I ever mention that I collect conch shells?  I pick them up whenever they show up in garage sales, up here in northern Michigan.  One of mine I bought in Peru, when I was on a 3 week excursion into the wilds, studying the shamans.  That particular shell was cut at the tip.  It can be tooted, like a trumpet.  I tooted on that thing all along the Inca Trail.  Ah, but that's another story.

Besides the conch, there's an abalone shell in the center, by the orchid.  I don't know how well the colors came through in this photo (or on  your monitor), but it's one of my most fun, favorite things to paint!  I could just fall into those iridescent colors!  I could totally zone out into abstraction when painting that.

I had to use silk daffodils in this painting.  Mine were still coming up at the time of painting.  Am I forgiven?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Purple Tulips

"Purple Tulips" -- oil on canvas 22x28" -- Margie Guyot

Some people might think I'd lost my mind -- all that color!   But I was in the mood to paint COLOR!  Last weekend we'd had a 16" snowfall and were without power for 48 hours.  It was dark.  It was gloomy.  By some miracle my studio stayed about 50 degrees, even without the heating system.  I had to bundle up a bit more to work out there.

So the sun came out.  The snow has melted.  Well, mostly melted.  Robins are singing; crocuses are peeking up.  I was in the mood to do cartwheels across the front lawn.  That is, if I could do cartwheels.  In lieu of doing cartwheels, I decided to yank out the most colorful piece of fabric I could find and do something with the bunch of purple tulips I'd bought last week.  They were about to give out, so I had to paint fast.

But the painting wasn't challening enough.  Why not make it really interesting and add the acrylic box with the butterflies and the pink glass bowl?  It was damned near enough to kill me.  But even so, it was a lark, compared to sweeping, vacuuming and washing floors. 

Painting tulips is hard enough as it is.  They're always enlongating, ever so slightly.  Stick a bunch of tulips into a vase and the next day you come back, they've "grown" taller.  Or swooped lower, which was what these did. 

Purple is a tough color to try to paint.  Almost impossible to mix it and not have it turn out some muddy shade of reddish-brown.  I think I need to buy every shade of purple & violet they make.

This painting is a prime example of why Oil Painters of America seems to hate everything I do.  It's too gaudy.  Not brown enough.  After years of being a member and paying dues and entering their shows, I finally dropped them.  Why was I trying to paint something they might like?  It was pathetic. No, I finally decided life is too short to spend all my time doing things to try to win somebody else's approval.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Tulips in Blizzard"

"Tulips in Blizzard" -- oil on canvas 30x30" -- Margie Guyot

After days of temperatures in the 40's, we had a surprise blizzard over the first weekend of March.  I measured 16" of snowfall in my yard.  It'd started Friday night around 4.  I had to play a gig in Charlevoix from 5 to 7.  While we played, we all watched the snow falling heavily.  The drive home on 31 was slippery!  I drove slowly and was so happy to crawl into my nice, warm bed!  The heavy, wet snow piled up on trees and caused branches to break off, hitting power lines.  Thousands were without power for 2 - 3 days (or more).  My power was out from 9:30 Friday night until about 9:30 Sunday night.

Amazing, the things you can do without electricity!  No email, no Facebook -- you have loads of free time.  There was no heat in my studio, but it's insulated very well.  I threw on an extra jacket and decided to squeeze out another painting from this bunch of tulips.  I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did.

Instead of doing something very colorful, I wanted to show the view from my studio windows this time.  And there are no strong sunlight and shadow patterns.  It was dark and gloomy all weekend.

To be on the safe side, I carried in all my boxes of oil paints, in case my studio froze.

Tulips seem to get more interesting as they age, petals flopping open, stems twisting and looping.  The foliage was contorting into bizarre shapes.  But I love a good challenge.  What else was there to do?  I couldn't even leave my driveway.  No Internet.  No phone, no TV.  My plow guy was running behind.  He finally showed up Sunday afternoon -- with tales of his own to tell!

When the power came back Sunday night at 9:30, I almost threw on my coat and drove down to the Edison bucket truck (on the corner) to give them some beers and kiss their boots!  But I didn't have any beers, doggone it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Tulips on Orange Batik Shawl"

"Tulips on Orange Batik Shawl" -- oil on canvas 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

Surprisingly, cut tulips seem to last a lot longer than I'd expected.  And they get more and more interesting as they age, with leaves twisting and the blossoms leaning and opening wider.  Why throw them out? 

For an interesting challenge, I decided to set them upon a bright orange batik shawl I'd snagged at a rummage sale.  Some people might find this garish, but I loved it.  It's a bright bit of "fire" in an otherwise dark, gloomy Michigan winter.

One trick I discovered about painting fabric wrinkles is to use Liquin and paint in the "hills and valleys" in the solid background color.  In a day or so the surface will be dry enough to paint in the printed design.  I didn't always know this.  Felt like a genius when I finally figured it out!

And no, it still didn't make things much easier for painting wrinkled fabrics --- only a bit quicker!  But what else is there to do up here in winter?  I refuse to pay for TV (so I don't have any).  And housecleaning is SUCH a drag.  You clean and the next day everything's trashed again.  Might as well sit and play around with colors!

"Tulips and Blue Glass Bowl"

"Tulips and Blue Glass Bowl" -- oil on canvas 20x16" -- Margie Guyot

I found these tulips at Meijer's and just loved the color!  The blue glass bowl came from an antique store in Elk Rapids.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be exciting in a painting.  The sun came out for one day, an exciting event in itself.  We see it so rarely in winter up here in NW Michigan.

 It's surprising how challenging it is to draw in and paint the tulip leaves!  Mixing the right shades of green was a challenge as well!  Once cut and put into water, tulips continue to grow -- and change.   But I've learned to compare the difficulty of painting something with the difficulty of painting cupcake frosting swirls (my big project last year).  I figure if I could control my panic with frosting swirls, anything else would be somewhat easier.

It's like comparing the difficulty of tasks with the difficulty of working on the Line at Ford Motor Company for 30 years!  Now THAT was hard work!

Stay tuned for more tulips....