Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Todd's Truck" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- Margie Guyot

Friends and I went over to sculptor Todd Warner's house today and visited. Some of us got out our easels. So much to choose from -- he lives in the most interesting house I've ever seen, with quite a menagerie. Still, this red truck caught my eye.

I only had 2 reds with me: cadmium red light and alizarin, plus no small brushes. I think I painted 95% of this with my favorite #8 flat brush. The sun was only out for about the first 20 minutes, so I kind of had to wing it as far as the lights went. And Todd had to leave before I was finished, so that's the excuse I'm using if anybody has any criticism!

The only bad thing was that this truck was parked right next to his poultry pen. We're talking Peeee-yoooooooo when the wind was just right!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Beach Study" -- plein air field study -- 6x8" oil painting on canvas panel -- Margie Guyot

This is one of the smaller paintings I've ever attempted. 6x8" is about the smallest size that my Soltek easel will hold. Still, I used a #8 flat brush for about 90% of this painting.

It was very sunny here -- but chilly. The good-old Goretex jacket saved the day again! I hiked down to the lakeside from Antrim Creek Natural Area and set up at my favorite spot. This time I finally remembered to bring the wet canvas carrier! It really helps. In the past I've ruined some paintings by setting them on the sand while packing up my equipment. The wind is always blowing here and more than once I've ended up with a sand-coated painting.

Glad to have my trusty hat and sunglasses! Normally I don't paint with sunglasses, but that sun on the water is quite glaring.

I love this spot and have painted it many times, including in several winter time blizzards. Painting water is a mystery! I plan on continuing with my water studies....

Labels: , , , , , ,

"Plum Trees" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas board -- Margie Guyot

With the change of seasons, my neighbors and I are all in a flurry to do everything at once! Which is why I haven't done as much painting just lately. Suddenly there's an urgency to plant gardens, straighten up the yard, etc. And I finally received a long-awaited check from Ford that's enough to pay to get my art studio drywalled, a skylight installed and new lighting. My current "hot" task is to move everything out from the front half of the studio so the drywalling can begin.

I know: excuses, excuses! I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get as much done as possible, enjoying life like there's no tomorrow. I really wanted to paint something yesterday. The lakeshore would have been gorgeous, but horribly cold and windy. The weather was very changeable: overcast, dark and rain-threatening one minute, clear blue skies the next. Relentless winds, too. I'd be hot one minute and freezing the next. Throw in some hot flashes & it was maddening.

The first trees to bloom on my property this year are the two plum trees. They've been covered in tiny white blooms (and bees) for the past couple days. I set up my easel out in the field and painted this view. Throughout much of this painting, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. Painting orchards in bloom is tougher than I'd imagined.

Thank goodness my hat has a chin strap on it -- the wind was very gusty and my hat would have probably blown all the way to Charlevoix!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Orchard -- Early May" -- field study -- 9x12" -- oil on gessoed paper -- Margie Guyot

It's still too early for the blossoms to open on the fruit trees here in NW Michigan. I found this orchard on Maple Hill Road and loved this scene. Something very ordered, very geometric about it. The growers up here are very fastidious with their trees. They plant them in carefully laid-out grids and usually keep the ground beneath the trees free of weeds. The belief is that the weeds rob the tree roots of nutrients.

Even though no blossoms were open yet, it was such a beautiful, warm sunny day, I had to get out and paint. Loved the bright green of the grass. If you look along the upper portion of the painting, you'll see a pale greenish-gray. That is from the thousands of small branches, covered in pale green leaves that are just peeking out. The sun was striking the branches, which have a bit of a sheen to them.

I also love how thick and gnarly old apple trees can get! Each spring the trees are carefully pruned to allow for sunlight penetration into the tree. I've heard pruning should make it easy enough for a bird to fly right through the tree. Sometimes these years of pruning end up creating some unusual-looking trees!

Several beehives were about 50 feet away. With no blossoms open yet, the bees were frantically racing about, looking for something to eat. Several came close to me, buzzing around, but I knew not to be afraid. When they realized I was not a flower, they flew off.

Stay tuned for more orchards!

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Macintosh" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot
For the longest time I'd been noticing there is a certain variety of apple tree up here that has beautiful pinky-peachy tones on the branches. Apple orchards are everywhere up here, and I'd been meaning to set up my easel and paint one of these wonderful trees before the leaves and blossoms appear.

So yesterday afternoon I drove over to Friske's Farm Market, south of Charlevoix, on US 31, and asked if they minded if I painted on their property. It's always a good idea to politely ask a property owner's permission, I've found. Some people are quite touchy about somebody painting something of theirs -- even when you're merely standing on the road, not even touching their land!

Thank goodness I'd thought to bring along my Gore-tex jacket and windstopper gloves! It was about 60 degrees and sunny, but the wind ripping off Lake Michigan (about 1 mile west) was truly bone-chilling.

Smart apple-growers now keep the ground beneath the trees clear of weeds. The belief is that weeds compete for nutrients, resulting in lower apple yields. Friske's followed this practice, and underneath the trees was mostly moss. This time of the year the moss was a very interesting golden olive tone. In between the rows of trees they keep the grass neatly mowed.

As usual when I paint trees, what I love to see are the darker shadow shapes and the sunlit portions. The blue of the sky was reflected in places. Some of the branches reflected the blindingly bright light of the sun. It all depended upon their angle. It's this variation of reflected lights and shadows that give a tree painting a feel of 3-D.

I found out this tree is a macintosh.

Stay tuned for some "orchard in bloom" paintings. It might be another week or two before we see blossoms.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,