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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