Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Ten Degrees in the Shade" -- plein air field study -- 8x10" on birch panel -- oil -- Margie Guyot

This afternoon the clouds disappeared and I thought I'd drop all the varnishing and framing tasks to go out and do a "quickie". Decided to check out Barnes Park in Eastport. Most parks aren't plowed here in the winter, and this one only was plowed as far as the parking lot. So I turned around and on the way out, saw this sight. I loved the way the sunlight streamed across the road, through the blue shadows of the trees.

When I'd gone out to paint, I thought it would be warmer, since the sun is out (for a change). Wouldn't you know I'd pick a view that was in the heavy shade? About froze my fingers off, even wearing gloves. As I painted, a pair of cross-country skiers glided past. I bet they were warmer than I was.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Epiphyllum" -- 0il on canvas -- 40x60" -- Margie Guyot

I thought of calling this "Stripes". Ha ha. The epiphyllum is the strange plant that is hanging out over half the painting. Also known as "the rickrack plant", it's an orchid cactus. Technically a succulent, when it finally gets big enough to bloom, it's spectacular. I'm a big fan of epiphyllums. There are a bunch of this type of plant in the greenhouse down on Belle Isle. When they bloom, the flowers are large as dinner plates and range in color from hot pink to screaming orange, white, red, etc. Give me spectacular, give me opulence! Give me screaming orange, especially!

Then OK, I guess I must also admit I love tough challenges. I tell people that doing a big still life is like doing a big crossword puzzle, only you have to make up the design and pieces for it all by yourself. This striped fabric, all wrinkled, with folds and in shadow & sunlight -- it about wore my eyeballs out! This still life took longer to finish than most of my paintings because of the difficulty. For a while there I didn't know if it would turn out. I may leave it set a while & might change things later, as I see fit.

Robert Bateman once told us that he felt very depressed during the first 95% of his painting; it was only during the final 5% of it that he got excited again. It was kind of like that with this one.

I think I'm going to do a series of smaller still lifes for a while. I really liked the look of that green Depression glass plate on the lower right. The striped fabric underneath got such interesting distortions, I think I'll have to do a small one with that combination. It's a good excuse to go buy some pretty cupcakes!

Often I like to place yummy-looking sweets on a plate in my paintings. But since I moved up to the sticks, yummy-looking cookies & cupcakes are very hard to find. About all I see in the store down the street are bags of Oreos. Nothing oozing and to-die-for. However, maybe I should think about doing a still life with Cheetos? Cheetos & beer? Or pizza? Plenty of those down at the IGA.

Let me explain that monstrous green glass torpedo-shaped bowl in the center. Naturally, it was a garage-sale find. I got it for about 50 cents ten or fifteen years ago. Of course it's butt-ugly, but it's a siren, beckoning me to pull out once every 10 years to try to paint. I liked how it cast blue and green hues onto the white stripes of the cloth.

I used almost an entire tube of alizarin crimson on this painting! But it was a good thing: a few months ago I'd lost the cap to the tube, so I had to do something to use it all up before it dried in the tube. Waste not, want not.....

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Monday, January 19, 2009

"Ford Explorer" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel -- Margie Guyot

A sunny day here! I hung around until mid-day, waiting for the temperature to rise up from the below zero range. What to paint, what to paint? I couldn't resist it any longer: what I wanted to paint was my red Explorer, sitting out in the driveway. I loved how it cast blue shadows onto the snowbanks and how it reflected the blue of the sky. And yes, that's a layer of snow on top, between the luggage rack bars. Remnants of snow also cling to the top of the hood and front grill.

Believe it or not, but I actually was feeling a bit hot.
Had on all my full array of long underwear and hi-tech boots, etc. Even my zebra cowboy hat. Had to unzip a few things.

Then the chickadees were buzzing me. Earlier, I'd held sunflower seeds in the palm of my hand when I refilled their feeder. Some of them were sitting in my hand, eating. So when they saw me again they must have thought I had more sunflower seeds for them.

Elvis and Matisse, my cats, were outside, prowling around, airing themselves out. We'd had about 18" of snow last week and I think everybody and everything was happy to get out into the glorious sun for a change. Elvis likes to hang around me and gives me meows of approval.

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"Late Afternoon - Four Degrees" -- 8x10" plein air field study -- Margie Guyot

This is right at the entrance to my property, looking east. I'd just returned from a big adventure* and wanted to paint a quickie. I loved the stripe patterns in the snow, created by the late afternoon sun. It was about 4 degrees and I was soaked from my earlier adventure, so I did this as quickly as possible. I love these red pines! Their bark has a sort of reddish tint to it and it was catching rays of the low afternoon sun. In the distance is the ridge that runs in back of my house. It's covered in maple, aspen and a few white pines. I used a size 8 brush to paint this whole thing. No dilly-dallying around in 4 degrees with itty-bitty brushes! Especially when you're already soaked in sweat.

Earlier in the afternoon I'd settled into my studio to continue working on a big still life. The heater was going and I had "Prairie Home Companion" going on the radio. Then a friend called. She wanted to see my studio. Afterwards we decided to take a hike at Antrim Creek Natural Area, one of my favorite places. I threw my paints into my Explorer, thinking I might paint another lake scene.

After weeks of clouds, it was a thrill to see the sun! We'd had about 18" of new snow this week. So we both were excited about getting out for a walk in the woods.

Right as we pulled up to the park entrance, another vehicle pulled up, coming from the opposite direction. The park is never plowed in winter, and the snow looked ominously deep. I waved the other driver through, figuring if he could make it, what the heck -- I'd just follow in his tracks.

We both got stuck! Not at the entrance, but way down in the parking area. Luckily he had a shovel. For the next hour the 4 of us shoveled. We took turns getting stuck, rocking back & forth and finally getting free. We shoveled and shoveled and basically ended up shoveling out the whole driveway all the way back to the road. The other driver pulled out some beers to celebrate our victorious efforts. Truly, it was Miller Time!

Lessons learned:
1) Ford Explorers are wonderful in snow, but they can't manage knee-deep snow
2)Always keep a snow shovel in the vehicle

After I returned home, I was soaked in sweat. But when I saw these blue shadow stripes across the snow, I had to get out the paints. I had some real snow boots in the Explorer, which I put on. By the time I finished this painting, my other boots (which had been totally soaked in sweat and melted snow) were frozen stiff.

I just don't know what got into me yesterday. After finishing painting, I shoveled out the mailbox again. It's a daily chore here. The snow is almost 5' high by the mailbox. Thank goodness for Aleve!

And it's sunny again here today. A miracle! I think I'll just have to go out painting again today. The big still life in the studio needs to dry a little before I can do any more to it. Hasta la vista, baby!

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Friday, January 02, 2009

"New Year's Day -- Lake Michigan" -- plein air field study -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

Yes, it was COLD and WINDY! After the last experience of painting in a blizzard down at the lakeshore, I made up my mind to wait until better weather. Obviously, I changed my mind. It was New Year's Day. What better way to spend it than going out painting in the wilds? Actually, this was the 2nd visit to the lake on New Year's Day. I'd gone down there in the morning for a nice, long hike. I wanted to see the ice chunks piled up. I had no intention of going down there to paint. I hiked about 2 miles up along the shoreline, then back again, snow blowing in my face.

Got home about 10 AM, laid down for a little rest. The next thing I knew, the phone was ringing. It was noon! My buddies were calling, wanting to go out painting, down by the lake. How could I say no?

It was threatening snow, but we lucked out this time. Only light flurries. Windy and horribly cold, but I wanted to try to paint the big blocks of ice that were starting to pile up along the shore. We've got another 2 - 3 months of winter to go, and I'm really interested in seeing how much ice piles up. So stay tuned for more ice paintings now & then! I must admit, though, I'm looking forward to doing another still life in my nice, warm studio.

The same thing happened this time that happened last time I painted out there: the wind whipped the painting out of my hands and it ended face-down in the snow. With a fine coating of sand on it. I had to let it sit overnight in the studio so the snow melted off.

I'm really looking forward to returning to this area when we have a sunny day. The ice chunks, some of them, had hints of turquoise blue in them. Ah -- the next best thing to painting in the Arctic! It's my dream to go paint the icebergs someday. Hope I can come up with the money before the icebergs all melt.

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