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.

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