Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Sunset - July 29, 2009" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel 9x12" -- Margie Guyot

When I don't make regular postings, some of my friends start to worry. Well, don't worry! I've just been very busy, doing a jillion things. Planting cherry trees, playing my sax in 3 bands, planting flowers. The most exciting thing I've been tied up with is the completion of my art studio. Finally the drywall is up. Trim is up. Everything is painted. The only holdup is a backorder on my track lighting. I'd been under the gun to get parts of the job done (such as priming and painting) so the contractor could do his job. It cut into my painting time, but the end is in sight. While waiting for the track lights, I've been putting things away and organizing.

I've been lusting to get back into painting large still lifes, but it's been impossible with my studio under construction.

The weather up here along the NW coastline of Michigan has been perfect this summer. Parts of the south have been suffering severe drought and heat. But not us! We've enjoyed most days around 70 degrees (nights in the 50's), with regular rainfall.

Last night was so beautiful I took my gear down to Antrim Creek Natural Area, south of Charlevoix, on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was about 8:30 when I drove over. A new hatching of midges was out. As I walked along the path that hugs Antrim Creek, there were little fish leaping out of the water, going for the midges. Had to keep my mouth closed when walking through clouds of the things. At least they weren't mosquitoes!

But what to paint? The water level of Lake Michigan is up about 6" this year, thanks to last winter's over-generous snowfalls. The big rock formations I painted last year are mostly under water. I always use a little viewfinder to try to see what might look like an interesting composition. I strolled along the shoreline, looking all over, trying to find something that excited me enough to paint it.

Finally I saw 3 big rocks that I thought I might as well try painting. After roughly drawing them in, a big cloud obscured the sunlight. Rats! It was the colors of the water and sand that had struck me as most interesting. And now they were dulled-down by the absence of sunlight. I turned around, feeling frustrated.

Egad! The sky was fabulous! Loved the colors! Loved the cloud shapes! I picked up my Soltek and did a 180 degree flipflop with it. Wiped out the rock outlines and painted this scene as quickly as possible. Sunsets change every second! In the distance you can see a bit of the Leelanau Peninsula on the horizon.

I really loved the gentle, rolling waves coming in and how they showed the darker water underside along with the dazzlingly-bright reflection of the sun. And overall, the water surface had a gorgeous viridian tone to it. One of these days I've got to remember to throw a tube of viridian into my bag! I had to kind of wing it with blue and a hint of yellow.

Having grown up in Iowa, Lake Michigan continually amazes me. The colors sure don't match what I saw in the Wapsipinnicon River! I've come down to the lake to paint many times and each time I see new things. This summer I've been trying to learn to capture the look and feel of the waves. Like a sunset, waves won't hold still, doggone it!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Late Day -- Two Ponds" -- plein air field study -- 6x8" oil on canvas panel -- Margie Guyot

Yesterday had been a flurry of planting poppies and flowering tobacco in my garden, then hours of digging through paintings for Tvedten Fine Art, the gallery up in Harbor Springs. They called me about noon, saying they'd like more work on Monday. All needed to be varnished, signed and framed. Yikes! That took hours and hours.

About 8 PM I thought I'd drive down to Antrim Creek Natural Area and paint a lake scene. But when I got down there, nothing looked interesting. At least, interesting enough to paint. Too serene, too blah. I got everything back into the car and drove along Old Dixie Highway, looking for long shadows and patches of sun.

This spot is right at the NE corner of Old Dixie Highway and Rex Beach Road. I pulled my car up and parked right in front of a No Tresspassing sign. The signs always say you need permission to be on the land, but they never tell you who to ask. So I picked my way through the brush and set up my Soltek in front of this lovely pair of ponds. Fortunately, I'd thought ahead and had sprayed myself liberally with mosquito lotion, as they were ravenous.

I really love finding spots like this, with contrasting light and interesting shapes. Most of the scene was in shadow. The sky was changing to a pale viridian (it was nearing sunset) and the golden streaks of sunlight were raking across distant fields. It's so much more fun to paint either early in the morning or late in the day because of the dramatic lighting.

I decided to use a small panel (6x8") for this because I'd realized that I had a plethora of small frames.

Painted this entire piece using my favorite #8 flat brush.

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