Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Scott Road" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 12x24" -- Margie Guyot

This is the road I live on. Lake Michigan lies 1 mile west (as the crow flies). I moved up here nearly 2 years ago, after participating in a daylong paintout with the Crooked Tree Art Center (Petoskey). I hadn't been up this way in 30 years, so it was quite a surprise to see how beautiful it was up here. It kind of reminds me of the rolling hills of Vermont. The summers are packed with tourists, but the winters are rather brutal. Only the toughest old birds stay here.

I've always loved the look of this road, especially in late afternoon, with the long shadows running across the road. As a plein air painter, I especially like scenes where I can paint while standing in the blessed shade.

Normally I don't paint such large canvases, but there are a couple shows coming up that called for this type of wide format. I actually painted this on 2 afternoons, returning to the same spot.

"Sunset - 8/23/09" -- plein air field study -- oil on stretched canvas -- 12x24" -- Margie Guyot

Again, I normally don't paint in this wide format en plein air, but I was wanting to put this into a show that was looking for this size. Sunsets are beautiful to paint, but they're also the devil. The light and cloud formations are changing so rapidly, it's best to arrive on the scene early, try to pre-mix an anticipated range of colors, use a big brush and a small canvas.

After several days of gusty winds and rain, it was calm on Sunday night. I drove down to my favorite spot for sunset paintings, Rex Beach, just south of Charlevoix, MI. The advantage to this spot is that you can drive right down to the water. Other parks dot the shoreline here, but you have to schlep your gear for 3 - 4 blocks, up & down a long hill and across sand dunes.

As I painted, a car of people pulled up to enjoy the sunset, too. Two of the men got out their fishing rods and casted for panfish. I didn't see them catch anything, though.

The cloud formations always amaze me. They roll in off the western side of the lake and are wonderful. Trying to paint the glowing reds and golds is tough. If I use this study for a later studio painting, what I'd do is paint the red and gold areas with white, leave it dry, then give thin glazes of color. That's the only way I know to get anywhere near the brilliance.

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