Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"White Poinsettia" -- oil on canvas -- 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

If I hadn't had a mole removed from my leg in October, this painting wouldn't have been done. I had been watching the scar for 2 months and thought it might not be healing right. Went in to get the doc to check it out last week, just to be on the safe side. Whew -- all is fine, she said. When I lived downstate, I'd usually treat myself after a doctor's (or dentist's) visit by going clothes-shopping. Up here, my need for clothes has changed. Dressing-up up here in the hinterlands, according to my realtor, means "putting on clean jeans and your newest boots".

Instead of hunting down a new frock, I went to the grocery store and bought a filet mignon and this pretty poinsettia. I'm one of the world's experts at killing poinsettias, however. I knew I'd have to use it in a painting -- and paint fast!

See the Christmas-patterned tablecloth? I quickly learned to regret having chosen it. It was quite the bitch to paint. I hope I gave the illusion of receding space, although I might be tinkering with it later.

I love gnomes and wanted to feature this guy. How he survived the move from Farmington Hills up to Eastport I think is some kind of miracle. That flower flute he's playing is quite fragile.

That poor poinsettia! Not only was it doomed in my care, but it also was beseiged by my 2 little kitties, who took great joy in battering it when they had the chance. I had to set the plant up on a high cabinet when I left the studio for the day.

Winter here along the NW coastline of Michigan is typically overcast, with lots of lake-effect snow. I think we had one sunny day while I painted this. I really prefer strong sunlight, as it gives good patterns of sun & shadow. Alas, it was lacking most of the time, so the lighting in this painting is softer, with less defined shadow patterns.

Yesterday morning I came into the studio and decided to add the plate of cookies. I had plenty of plates, but no cookies. Did I stop and mix up dough and bake cookies? Hecky, no! They're totally invented. Not on my diet, anyway.

Was glad to get this one finished, as my bi-color amaryllis just opened up. Stay tuned for an amaryllis painting.....

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Gift Wrap" -- oil on canvas -- 30x40" -- Margie Guyot

About half the time I was painting this, I had to grab one of the kittens as it attempted to leap onto my wet palette. Kitty thought it was a game, to have me catch her as she leaped toward the wet paint.

I started this painting last Sunday while waiting for my neighbor to come over and help me build storage shelves in the back room of the studio. Instead of standing around, feeling frustrated while waiting for my helper, I decided to clear a space, set up another still life and paint.

As usual, it was cloudy most of the time, so I didn't get a lot of strong sunlight/shadow patterns. To liven things up a little, I put a string of colored lights running around in the composition. That roll of aluminum gift wrap was drawing a little too much attention. By draping 2 strands of lights across, it helped stop the viewer's eye from sliding off the left side. To get an effect of "glowing" light bulbs, I painted them pure white. Once dry, I put a thin glaze of pure color over them.

The toughest thing about this painting was the plastic bag full of bows. Ah, patience! One thing I figured out about how to get the bows to look shiny was to clean my brush with turpentine, then use it like an eraser to remove a thin band where I wanted the highlight to appear.

That bowl of truffles gradually got emptier & emptier as the week progressed. But the mini-cupcakes: they were horrible, from the grocery store bakery. Nasty things! I fed them to my chickens. They viewed the green frosting with suspicion.

No, maybe I was wrong about the bag of bows being the toughest thing to paint. Those vintage poinsettia glasses were no piece of cake, either! I think obelisks are rather difficult. But I loved those glasses & I was bound & determined to paint them.

And the shelves we were building? 95% done. Hallelujah! Going to use them for storing my canvases and frames.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Rex Beach Road - 12/12/09" -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas panel -- Margie Guyot

At last - a sunny day! We'd had blizzards since Tuesday night. Something like 15" of snow on the ground. I hadn't driven anywhere since our band concert Tuesday night, so today everybody and his brother had errands to run. I finally got my Soltek into the Flex and drove up US-31 toward Charlevoix. I turned west onto Rex Beach Road and thought this view was pretty interesting. No mountains here; only rolling hills, trees and lake. I love the rare days we have sun here because that's when the blue shadows occur.

It was a rather balmy 28 degrees, but it was also very windy. I was so glad I'd put on my heavy-insulated snow pants and heavyweight down coat. Otherwise it'd have been miserable.

This road leads down to one of my favorite painting spots: Rex Beach, which is one of the Antrim Creek Natural Area parks. The parks aren't plowed here in winter, so I probably won't be able to get down to the lake to paint unless the snow melts. Somebody decided they should pay something like $35,000 to put up some "interpretive" displays. I think more people would have preferred doing without the interpretive displays -- and having at least one of the area parks plowed at least once a month here.

I look forward to doing more still lifes, but at the moment my studio is very cluttered. I moved a ton of things out of a side storage room and took several days to insulate that room. My neighbor Jerry has been helping me build storage shelves for my large canvases and frames. Once this project is over, I can put everything away -- and get back to painting still lifes. Itching with ideas!

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Blizzard" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

We're right in the middle of a major blizzard today that's said to last until tomorrow morning. Really pretty out. I was itching to paint something, so I set up my easel under the porch overhang and painted this view to the south. That's a big white pine and the spikey things to the right are the dead stalks of mullen. I liked how the snow makes the flower stalks bend. I've included some in the foreground in this painting.

It was surprising how much "putty" color and gray I needed to add to the white to make the snow colors.

Even though I was under the overhang, snow still got into my palette. It's next to impossible to paint when it's snowing. When it gets into your paint it just makes a big mess.

I suppose I should just go do housework this afternoon!

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