Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Waves -- Lake Michigan" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

After painting the sunit ferns on Antrim Creek, I decided to go further and take a peek at Lake Michigan. Today the wind was up, creating the most fabulous waves! I lugged my easel over right to the edge of the sand and set up. Sometimes waves would wash over my feet. I noticed my easel legs were slowly sinking down in to the sand. When I finished I had to rinse the legs off in the lake before I tried folding them up. It's a Soltek easel and they get problems if you let sand get inside the metal legs.

Painting moving anything is tough! Painting waves -- I'm still figuring out how to do them. The colors of Lake Michigan just amaze me. Having grown up in Iowa, I'm used to brown-colored rivers & ponds. Nothing clear. So it's really a thrill to see turquoises and blues and even golds in the water.

How to put down all the colors I see? It's still very experimental for me, to paint Lake Michigan. I did a thin wash in the foreground of yellow ochre & hints of orange & a few things, wiping it flat. Then I tried to decide what color the underside of the waves seemed to be. Sort of a pale olive? Waves are constantly moving & changing every split-second -- so if you want to challenge yourself, try figuring out how to paint them!

In the distance is the Leelanau Peninsula. In the upper right foreground is a tiny jut of land with grasses. The lake is up about 6" higher this year, maybe because of all the snow we had last winter. Last year you could see more big boulders out at that point (where the grass is on the upper right). One of my friends told me he was here yesterday and saw some huge carp spawning in the creek, right where it empties into the lake.

At the very least, I had a great time out here today!

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"Sunlit Ferns" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

My buddies were already down at the beach, painting. We decided to meet at Antrim Creek Natural Area, our favorite spot. It's a long hike down to the beach from the parking lot, going through a beautiful woods, following Antrim Creek. I spied this little patch of sunlit ferns and somehow managed to climb down the steep, muddy, poison ivy-filled bank to get down to the stream's edge.

Overhanging branches and leaves were casting shadows on the water. Some of the trees take advantage of the situation and grow right up at the edge of the stream, sending roots right down into the water.

I really loved the bright green reflections on the water.

At one point, my friend Mike Toderoff tried to scare me by making a most convincing imitation of a bobcat. But I knew it could only be something Mike would do. Still, there ARE bobcats in this area, as I'd seen one in my front yard earlier this spring.

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"1940 Allis Chalmers Garden Tractor" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

This was the 3rd painting I did yesterday during the Charlevoix Circle of the Arts "plein air paint-out". I'd seen this tractor a couple weeks ago and planned on painting it sometime. Love the orange color! It belongs to one of my neighbors down the road. He plows the neighbors' gardens for them. I asked if he minded if I came over & painted it sometime. He said no problem -- but to watch out for the electric fence.

To get a halfway decent view of the tractor, I had to set up my easel as close to the electric fence as possible: about 3 feet. Had to keep reminding myself not to step back!

Time was running short, so I painted this as quickly as possible. 99% of each painting is done with a #8 flat brush. The only thing I used a little brush on this on was to do the steering wheel.

I was hot, sweaty & worn out, but I managed to frame all 3 paintings, shower & get gussied up and deliver everything back to Charlevoix for the 4 PM deadline. Whew!

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"Haybales -- Bolt's Farm" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

This is the second painting of the day I did yesterday. I was participating in the paint-out put on by Charlevoix Circle of Arts. I've always loved haystacks, hay bales, hay furrows -- whatever forms hay comes in! As I drove past Russ & Cindy Bolt's farm yesterday morning, I noticed all these cool bales. Got their permission to stand and paint. I always ask if there are any critters around that hate visitors, critters likely to gore me or take a chunk out of my leg. Or if there are any electric fences. It was safe, thank goodness, and I stomped on over and set up my easel.

Oh, that sun was HOT! Again, it was another case of realizing the tendendy to go into a panic. Trying to draw in a scene like this, with the problems of trying to make a flat canvas show the rising/falling hills and furrows -- it ain't easy! And the colors of the field were perplexing. We hadn't had rain here for about 3 weeks and most things were fried to a crisp. Shredded wheat lawns all over.

I love the way the round bales were dotted all over the place. I knew I had to paint them THEN and not wait for another day. Farmers tend to move all the bales over to one side of the property. That's what happened to me last year. I saw these bales and when I came back a couple days later, they were all lined up in a single row against the fence. Oh, the heartbreak of it all!

I'm going to be cruising around the rest of this summer, keeping my eyes peeled for more hay bales.

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"1950 GMC Truck" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 8x10" -- Margie Guyot

This was the first painting of the day yesterday. I had woken up at 4:30 AM, ready get going. I was participating in a "paint-out", hosted by the Charlevoix Circle of Arts. Painters were to show up between 7 & 8 AM to get the backs of their blank canvases stamped. From there, we were free to go out and paint whatever. The rule was that we had to have things framed and back by 4 PM.

I knew I just had to paint this truck. It's been parked at Featherly's, an auto repair shop on 31, on the south side of Charlevoix. It's for sale. They are asking $7500 or best offer. If I wanted to give up all my other interests and spend every moment working on old car repairs, I'd get it. And paint it hot pink!

Fortunately, I was able to set up and paint this picture before Featherly's opened for business, so I wasn't in anybody's way. I regretted not having any viridian in my palette. I've been using the colors of Scott Christensen ever since I had his workshop last summer. But there are some colors that just can't be mixed. I had to come to a close approximation with a mix of ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, a teeny hint of alizarin crimson and white.

Thank goodness the bugs weren't too bad. But it was very sunny and hot. I roasted the whole day, only finding interesting things that were in full sun. Seems like most artists long for a nice, shady tree to stand under whenever possible.

Don't think it's easy to draw in a vehicle, either! I just have to keep reminding myself not to panic! I often have to wipe out parts and correct things. The background is entirely made up. I removed the "reality" in back of the truck and set Lake Michigan as the background. Such feelings of control....!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

"Burning Gas & Hauling Ass" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

I'd driven past this truck 3 times this week and just HAD to go paint it today. It's parked along the side of 31, in Elk Rapids. It's for sale. And '86 Chevy. While I painted, several people stopped to talk. I always fantasize about some wealthy gallery owner stopping, falling to their knees, tears in their eyes, speechless with the joy of seeing my painting. Ha ha!

It's been very dry here for 2 weeks.
Lawns have turned to shredded wheat. But the yellow sedum, a succulent wildflower, flourishes. It loves neglect and drought. I thought the sight of this yellow truck, sitting on a hillside with yellow sedum was too cool to pass up.

Probably the hardest thing about painting a vehicle en plein air is making oneself calm down and look
carefully. Are the lines parallel that need to be parallel? And those doggone tires! Obelisks are tough boogers to draw! It's one thing to paint a tree and quite something else to paint a car. You can fudge quite a bit with a tree and people will still see it as a tree. Cars (and faces) are far less forgiving.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Wild Vetch" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

I saw this field of wild vetch on the drive home from Antrim Creek Natural Area. They're related to the wild sweet pea. It was late in the afternoon when I decided to stop and set up my easel. Long shadows were falling across the field from the old maple trees lining Old Dixie Highway. The sun was falling lower towards the horizon and the light was more golden and brilliant.

This was painted on the grounds of Fox Mission, a very rich (and expensive) piece of real estate. The house lots are further up on the top of the ridge, overlooking Lake Michigan. Some of the lots have been sold, but no building has taken place. The economy in Michigan's taken a huge dive. But all of us neighbors are glad nothing's happened yet with construction. We love the peace and quiet.

I want to return to this spot again and try to do another view this weekend. Lately I've been swamped with trying to paint my studio and replanting 2000 narcissus bulbs in the lawn. I've been digging up clumps of narcissus, finding as many as 100 bulbs in each clump. Planting them all in the lawn closer to the house, so next spring it would be beautiful.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

"Willys Fleetvan" -- plein air field study -- oil on 9x12" stretched canvas -- Margie Guyot

It was a beautiful, sunny (and cool) day here. Perfect for getting out to paint! I had to drive up to Charlevoix to get the oil changed on my Flex, so thought I might as well drive over to my friend Linda's and try painting her vintage Willys. I think she said it's a 1962 model.

In reality, the sun visor is dented. A tree fell on it. But it's in otherwise fairly decent-looking shape. Decent-LOOKING is the keyword here. Needs brakes and a muffler replacement, but ah -- details, details! I'm told this is one of only 6 left in the US.

Boy o boy -- this was pretty tough to do. Weird shape. I'm a sucker for reflected light, so maybe some people will look at this and think she was on drugs when she painted that! Well, no -- it's still springtime up here in NW Michigan and the grass is a rather furious shade of bright green.

I painted this whole thing with one brush: my favorite #8 flat.

Egad -- now I must sign off and go change clothes. I just came in from spraying Liquid Fence on my hollyhocks (to keep those naughty deer away) and some of that stinky stuff spilled onto my jeans. I need to leave for band rehearsal in a few minutes and I think it's not a very good idea to go in stinking to high heaven....

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