Sunday, October 21, 2007

"October Fishermen -- Kent Lake" -- plein air oil study -- 9x12" stretched canvas -- Margie Guyot

I don't know why, but I seem to be attracted to zig-zaggy patterns this year! Notice the water ripples in the lower left? I've done lots of still lifes using a zebra-patterened fabric as well. And when I go plein-air painting I wear my zebra-print cowboy hat. Hmmm.... Must be all the oatmeal?

Anyway, my friends & I were out at Kensington Metropark yesterday morning, painting the beautiful fall colors. Of course this particular painting shows no bright oranges, yellows or reds, but what I loved was the bold, angular composition. I have a horror of painting bland, trite scenes of water and fluffy foliage. Maybe because I've painted hundreds of that type of thing already. So when I saw this wooden fishing dock and ziggy-zaggy ripples with cloud reflections and distant shoreline, I knew I had to paint it. There were a couple fisherpeople out there and I threw them in (into the painting, not the water -- ha ha!).

The wind was ferocious, I might add! Had to hang onto my hat. 2 of my friends had their easels blow over & left in a huff. But the worst wind I'd ever painted in was so bad, I had to tie my easel onto a tree to keep it upright. All in suffering for one's art.....

The distant shoreline reminded me of something that Rockwell Kent used to do. He reduced much of his northern landscapes to bold, simple shapes. I happened upon his work last year and really love it. I'd love to visit his stomping grounds up along the Newfoundland coastline for a painting trip! In fact, all last year I read just about anything I could find on the Arctic, Baffin Island, Newfoundland, Greenland and that general area. Since I just bought a house up near Charlevoix, I don't have the $$ to take any trips for a while. But it's a goal!

Also -- I decided to drop my website ( and change the name of this blog to The website was an expensive beast that never paid off for me. But I love this blog --- and it's FREE! Thanks for looking!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Ripples" -- plein air field study -- 11x14" -- oil on canvas board -- Margie Guyot

Yesterday afternoon I was out painting with friends at Kensington Metropark and saw this beautiful scene of the water reflections, all rippling in the wind. I set up my easel and was getting ready to start painting when a painting buddy (who'd enjoyed several beers at lunch) came up to me and began lecturing me on how this would not be a good painting. He thought I'd be concerned with painting the island. I tried telling him no, I was more interested in the shape of the ripples and water reflections. It was like trying to talk to a brick wall! I just let him do his spiel, smiling sweetly and agreeing. Apparently satisfied that he'd "set me right", he staggered off, imposing his opinions on other unfortunates in our group.

I've been painting too long to fall for this type of intimidation! It was the amazing sight of the shimmery ripples that I loved -- and I was hell-bent on painting them! The dark reflections of the trees on the island grew more ochre as they approached the foreground. At that point, the darkness gave way to the ochre sand/mud beneath the surface. Again, we were blessed with quite interesting clouds. Very chilly, though, but this week we were fairly well prepared.

When we got there, one of my friends handed me a Killian's Red (I'd never had one before) and it was good! But after 3 hours painting, I still had half of it left. Well, the bathrooms were far, far away. I don't mind using the bushes, but still -- it's just an annoyance! I'd sooner paint!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Heat Wave" -- plein air field study -- 11x14" oil on birch panel -- Margie Guyot

We've been having an unusually warm October here in southeast Michigan, with near record-breaking afternoon highs. Mornings have been foggy and a bit on the chilly side. The colors are just hinting at shifting to the typical oranges, reds and golds. Of course none of that shows in this painting! I'd just finished slugging away on a painting, looking the opposite way. I didn't really care for it. There was something too blah about it, so I wiped everything off with a turpentine-soaked rag. Then I turned around and saw this view! Aha!

That distant bluish background really caught my eye! And the blindingly-bright sky and water reflections seemed to cast such an interesting mood! By this time of year, the waterlilies have filled in much of the shoreline areas and they're reflecting the bright sky. It's very nearly a monochromatic, with just faint hints of the green foliage showing at the top rims of the oak trees. I used my #8 flat brush to paint about 98% of this painting. It went fast & was a lot of fun.

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"White Owl" -- oil on canvas -- 24x36" -- Margie Guyot

This one just won Best of Show at the Livonia Fine Arts Competition (Michigan). I painted it last February up in my studio, having reached the point of being tired of standing out in the freezing snow, looking at the dark, dreary landscape. I was in the mood for hot colors! Ziggy-zaggies! This was painted on a recycled canvas, an older painting that nobody wanted. Rather than destroying the canvas, I sanded it out with a power sander, then went to Home Depot and bought a quart of oil-based primer. One of my painting buddies recommended this. Well --- Hah! Don't try it!

Not only was this a tough composition to draw (it took me several days of drawing, wiping out, re-doing) but I quickly discovered that regular housepaint oil primer is NOT compatible with artists oil paints! The lilies would wilt and die quickly, so I painted them first. Immediately the paint started reacting with the oil primer. It felt gummy. Then it appeared to be dissolving into the primer, turning chalky! I was furious, but refused to throw it out. I kept going, piling the paint on thickly.

Eventually I managed to get it all under control. Maybe it was the orange paint that was the most difficult, the most reactive.

Since then, if I want to recycle an older canvas, I sand it with the power sander, then coat it with a thin layer of titanium white, mixed with a bit of raw sienna.

Most everything in this painting came from a garage sale. I'd gone to my very first garage sale back in the early 70's and have enjoyed them ever since. Most of my house is furnished with garage sale items. I love garage sales -- they're like "shopping roulette"! My latest find? A unicycle. I'd gotten it cheaply, thinking I'd sell it on eBay for a profit, but alas -- I see eBay's loaded with unicycles for sale. Nobody's buying them. So -- look for a "Still Life with Unicycle" sometime in the future!

PS -- My entries have been somewhat limited lately because I'm in the process of buying a house up north and trying to pack up everything down here. My time for painting has been cut to a minimum (temporarily!).