Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Mishap in the Snow" -- Margie Guyot

Know how the buttered side always lands face down? I'd bundled up and trudged through the 6 1/2" snowfall this afternoon and stood out there painting as ice pellets drizzled onto my palette and canvas. While I painted, a car tried driving up the steep hill by my house and only got halfway. The hill turned out to be a sheet of ice. Then the mailman barely crawled up the hill. The snow underneath my feet turned to ice and I had to watch my step. This scene is right in front of my house in NW Michigan. I'd gone out earlier to shovel out the mailbox so the carrier could drive up. While shoveling, I'd noticed this interesting little scene and decided to paint it. Could not find my boots, so thank goodness for Smart Wool socks! Even though my feet were wet, they stayed warm. And thank goodness for Aleve! I'd woken up this morning with a cold and Aleve did wonders.

What I'd liked about this scene was the dramatic, angled composition and the tiny "Stop Ahead" sign up at the top left.

The painting (and the painter) were covered in ice pellets by the end. Maybe after melting a little in my studio, I thought the painting would look OK. Then whoomp! Down it all fell, face-first! This photo shows my painting covered liberally with fresh snow. At least I didn't fall. Crossing the road was treacherous. It had all changed to glare-ice. I'm sure Monet had days like this.

I set everything back into my heated studio for the night. Maybe the elves will come and fix it!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

"Sunlight in Cedars" -- plein air oil study -- 11x14" on masonite -- Margie Guyot

Finally I'm done moving! And I'll agree with the statement that "moving is hell"! The past 2 months have been a non-stop marathon of packing/discarding/cleaning/repainting rooms/washing/driving, etc. Yesterday morning Detroit was getting pounded with 8" of snow, but up here in NW Michigan it was sunny. I hiked through our 12" of snow to way back in the swamp, near the little trout stream, in search of my little Christmas tree. While working in the auto factory, I was always too worn-out to put up a tree, decorations or to bake cookies. But now that I'm retired, I can start to enjoy life again.

While hiking along, I noticed this one area full of old cedars. I made a mental note to come back here to do some painting.

I finally found it: the equivalent of The Griswold Family Christmas Tree. Remember National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation"? My tree was similar: a giant! After dragging it back through the woods, cutting it down a bit & wrestling it upstairs, I decorated it with all my antique glass ornaments I'd squirreled away from garage sales.

The weather looked good in the afternoon, so I lashed my outdoor easel onto the old sled. That sled I'd used as a kid in Iowa, and it was old when I got it. I think maybe it'd been my brother's. So it's probably at least 70 years old now. I pulled my easel through the snow, following the trail I'd left with the tree.

This spot is so pretty, deep in the woods, with huge, old cedars on a small hillside. I loved how the sunlight fell across the snow. Some animal tracks there -- maybe those of a deer? As I painted, the only sounds I could hear were the wind in the trees and an occasional raven. I had on my heavyweight down coat from eBay, moonboots I'd saved from the 70's, my wolf fur trooper hat and wool mittens. The heavy forest had protected me from the bitter winds. This was a fun afternoon. I'll have to make more trips into the woods for paintings.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Winter Sunrise -- Kensington" -- 2 plein air oil studies -- Margie Guyot

I'm still working on moving to my new house up north and have been unable to do any painting the past month or so. But I wanted to keep my blogsite up and running. Here are 2 little plein air studies I did last winter out at my favorite Detroit-area metropark. Both were painted on 9x12" birch panels. Every winter they lower the water level of Kent Lake to prevent damage to the boat docks. What you're seeing is mostly snow-covered ice with a small channel of open water. Sometimes these open water areas are filled solid with swans, canada geese or ducks.

I did one and immediately painted another one from the same spot. That scene was so interesting with the shapes and shifting colors, I could have stayed there all day, painting the same scene over & over. I'm sure all the paintings would have been different.

I believe the first one I did is the one on the right, in the pinkish tones. Notice the fog in the distance?

The second one was after the pink sunrise was giving way to a clear day, with tones of pale viridian. It was so hard to tear myself away from this spot!

I'm really looking forward to painting a lot of plein air studies up in my new home. It's in the Traverse City-Charlevoix area of Michigan, which is very hilly, along the coastline of Lake Michigan. It's also in the snow belt, but snow is fun to paint, too.