Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Conchs #4" -- oil on canvas -- 12x24" -- Margie Guyot
For days I'd thought of doing this painting! Two conchs, paired like at a dance. Don't they almost look like they could just jump up and do the polka? I was home from work today (health issues) and finally around 2:30 PM I felt good enough to paint a little. This is what happened.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"Conch Shell #3" -- oil on canvas -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

"Conch Shell #2" -- oil on canvas -- 12x12" -- Margie Guyot

"Conch Shell #1" -- oil on canvas -- 10x10" -- Margie Guyot

Amazing fact few people know about me: I like conch shells. I've got 5 or 6 of them, which is a thing that most Michiganders don't have. OK, I cheated: some I got in Peru and some were from garage sales. Two of them have been altered so they can be blown, like horns. The first Peru trip I went on, I had to carry my conch shell horn on the Inca Trail, stopping to blow every few minutes. We were hiking with 2 shamans and they wanted us to do a lot of horn-blowing. The mountains near Machu Picchu are very steep -- nearly vertical, and the trail hugged the side of the mountain. One false step and you'd cascade thousands of feet down. But it was a great place for echoes!

Another memorable place I've blown my conch shell is while marching in the Telluride, Colorado Mushroom Parade. Everybody was dressed like mushrooms and banging on drums or making some kind of noise. My kinda place! I think that was the most fun I ever had. I had on hot pink tie-dyed longjohns and my Peruvian hat that I'd haggled for in the market place. Did I paint my face blue? I don't remember.

Anyway, somebody wanted me to do some small conch paintings and this is what I came up with this weekend. Conchs are such fun to paint! I could probably do 100 conch paintings and still find them fascinating. Having worked for nearly 30 years on an auto assembly line, doing the same motions for 8 - 10 hours a shift, makes me not only tolerate doing what appears to be "menial, boring tasks", but to kind of enjoy doing them! Years ago, when I had an exhausting job of installing rear fascias on Lincoln Town Cars (they were heavy!), I longed for an easier job. "I don't care how boring it is, as long as it's easier!" So, sitting and painting pretty conch shells is kind of nice. Far better than installing carpeting in Town Cars, on your hands & knees, soaked in sweat and covered in fibers!

Monday, April 09, 2007

"Red Tulips" - oil on canvas - 36x36" - Margie Guyot
This painting I kind of did by surprise. I'd planned on doing an entirely different scene, with totally different colors. On the way home from work on Thursday, I stopped at Kroger's to buy flowers in a gold or ivory color. But wow -- I saw these tulips and they just blew me away! Loved the hot pink wrapping paper around the pot, too. I knew I had to paint them when my heart started going on overdrive!

So I got home with them and had to rip everything off my little makeshift table (actually part of a large cardboard box, propped on a plant table). I'd had it set up for a scene with a teal/gold/ivory theme and that just HAD to GO! Just the weekend before, I'd unearthed this marvelously embroidered silk shawl (from a garage sale, of course). I arranged it on the "table" and composed around the pot of tulips. I'd picked a small bunch of forsythia from my backyard last weekend, which was a good thing. Michigan's weather has turned truly foul, with blowing snow and killer frosts, which threw the brakes on all outdoor flowers.

The cockatiel is really a candle (another great garage sale find). Actually, everything in this painting came from a garage sale -- except for the spectacular pink leopard stiletto booties. Oh, and the cool, swirly, hand-blown glass pitcher (on the right side) came from Goldner Walsh Nursery (in Pontiac). I love the way it distorted the shape of the leopard stilettos, don't you? It also looks good when filled with lemonade. But that's another painting for this summer.

Drawing the composition in is always the hardest part, but I MAKE myself do it. Too easy to find excuses to put off drawing, but the elves won't do it for me, so I gotta just DO it. Drawing in the complex folds of the hot pink trim on the pot of tulips was kind of fun. Hey -- it's SO much more fun than washing floors! Another thing I enjoyed about painting this one was getting to pull every tube of red paint out -- and using it. Some colors just can't be mixed. I started drawing this in on Good Friday and finished painting it on Easter Sunday.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

"White Owl" -- oil on canvas -- 48x36" -- Margie Guyot

Once again I played hookey from going plein-air painting with my buddies and stayed home to do a still life painting. Since last November, I think we've only had 1 Saturday with sun here in Michigan, and I was just tired of dark, gloomy (and rainy!) days. Yesterday was just another classic "sour owlshit brown" Saturday, so I holed up in my studio and painted screaming oranges all day, listening to my collection of Diana Krall CDs. Last Sunday I started setting this one up and it was driving me nuts for days. I kept taking everything off my rigged-up table, then putting stuff back on, taking it all off, putting back on. I wanted to find orange tulips, but nobody seemed to have them. So I bought orange lilies. All the vases and figurines I've scavenged from garage sales. The owl came from some old guy's garage sale and he was such a flirt! He'd built a treehouse in his front yard and had a mannequin in a bikini posed as if she was waving at passersby. And of course those are my shoes! Life's too short to be conservative.

I woke up during the night on Friday, thinking about this painting. Or, more correctly, the canvas surface. Originally I'd started painting something else on it but didn't like it. Last year a friend told me he recycles unwanted paintings by coating them with oil-based primer. I slapped some on this stretched canvas spring of 2006. But -- oy vey! When I tried painting on it, all the dark colors were dissolving into the supposedly dry primer! It was actually sticky to paint on. Very frustrating. I laid there in bed, thinking about that nasty canvas, thinking I'd have to go buy a new canvas in the morning and throw this old thing out.

Saturday morning I slept in until 4 AM (my usual time is 3 AM) and was so impatient for the sun to rise. Due to glare, I never paint from artificial lighting. When it got light enough to see decently, I went in and just started painting. Drawing this one in was pretty tough (I am far too impatient to take slides, wait for processing, then project and trace images!). I think it took me just as long to draw the basic arrangement in as it did to paint it. At least it felt that way. The glass bowls and large vase were interesting challenges, but not impossible.

So now it's Sunday and the sun is out, of course! I'm going to a big orchid show with my neighbors and maybe to our favorite resale shop.

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