Monday, July 30, 2007

"July Morning -- Boat Dock" -- plein air oil study -- 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

Late summer in Michigan and 2 Saturdays ago we painted along a small, private lake. I did one scene of the waterlilies, raked by early morning sunlight. What to do next? I spied this small boat dock a few feet over. It was at the bottom of a steep, tree-covered hill and was mostly all in shade. You can see just a few little rays of sun falling on the wood planks in the foreground. And the sun was hitting the waterlilies beyond the dock (at the top of this photo). What's unusual about this painting is that it's nearly colorless. The still water was reflecting the hazy sky above. About the only note of color was the few green waterlily pads and the yellow ochre at the back of the boat. The boat blocked some of the sky's reflection, allowing the ochre-colored bottom of the lake show through.

This past weekend I was up in northern Michigan, participating in a one-day "paintout", hosted by the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey. Some of my painting buddies talked me into going at the last minute. There were all kinds of fairs and festivals along the Lake Michigan coast, so it was impossible to find a motel room (unless you didn't mind paying $400 a night). I got the very last available campsite left in a state park.

Oy vey! I must be getting too old & rickety to tent-camp! That old favorite of mine, the Therma-rest camping mattress, just wasn't as comfortable as I remember it used to be. It didn't help that my tent was sitting on lumpy ground. It's one of those 2-man tents that would comfortably serve 2 midgets, maybe. I felt like a crazed hamster, miserably shifting my camping mattress & sleeping bag around, back & forth, desperately trying to locate a comfortable spot. I moved my pillow from one end back to the other several times. Tossing & turning. It was hot. It was smokey. It was noisy. My back hurt. I'd had to wash my face with Colgate (forgot my soap). Hopeless. I didn't sleep worth a darn.

What's it like to sleep in a filled-to-capacity state park, you ask? Envision wall to wall RVs, tents, campers (some decorated with Christmas lights or potted geraniums), airstream trailers, barking dogs, screaming babies, partying teens, shrieking children on bikes -- and all shouting, laughing, shooting off fireworks, radios blaring, with blazing campfires at every site. Hell, in other words. I guess camping in the wilds of Peru spoiled me. Thank goodness for earplugs!

Usually I'm quite organized. I don't know what happened this time. I forgot to pack soap, deoderant, an alarm clock and swimsuit. Went swimming anyway in Lake Charlevoix in all my clothes. Note to self: always pack 3 towels because I immediately get one of them horribly dirty within the first few minutes of any trip.

But I DID remember all my painting gear, thank goodness! We artists got our blank canvases stamped by the gallery at 8 AM and then set out to paint masterpieces anywhere in that general area. The star thistle was blooming everywhere, so I did 2 paintings of meadows filled with lovely lavendar blooms. Painting #3 was of the Lake Michigan shoreline. And painting #4 of late-day, puffy clouds over a hillside. But I forgot to take photos of them -- darn!

All paintings had to be framed and turned in by 6 PM. Crooked Tree Arts Center held a wine and cheese reception. Within the first 15 minutes my first painting sold. Yippee! The show will continue through the end of August.

I still feel like a roast beef, having roasted all day in the hot sun. Would do it again (but will double-check for my swimsuit, soap & deoderant next time). Northern Michigan is BEAUTIFUL!