Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Pussywillow" -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

A few days ago I saw a wild pussywillow growing in the cedar swamp, down the road about a mile. I nipped a few little branches and had them in a vase by the kitchen sink. This morning I looked at them & thought I should do a painting.

I love this old tablecloth! I left it all mussed-up, as it fell onto the table.

Both the little studio kitties slept most of the afternoon, listening to classical music on NPR radio. When I was about done, they perked up. Of course they had to jump onto the table, rip the pussywillows out of this vase and drink the water!

People might wonder why I did such a restricted-looking (colorwise) painting. Well, it's nice once in a while to leave the jarring colors sit for a day or so. Maybe I was influenced by the Sarah Brightman DVD I watched last night. And it was another dark, snowy day here in Michigan. No strong sunlight, so this painting reflects a more quiet look.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

"Two Cups of Tea" -- oil on stretched canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

"Yellow Primrose" -- oil on stretched canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

Winter has returned with a vengeance! It snowed ALL day yesterday. A perfect day for painting in the studio. I'd found this vintage, striped table runner at a resale shop in Charlevoix last week. Loved the "cottagey" colors! I'm sure there will be more paintings with this cloth.

I love painting cups with tea. It's fascinating -- the colors change so quickly as the tea brews. These teacups are ancient, with "China" stamped on the bottom. Thin as paper. With little hand-painted bluebirds and flowers. It's a miracle they survived my move up north.

Because it was so dark & dreary outside, I had to set up a studio light to get some sense of sunlight and shadow patterns. Still, it's not quite as good as real sunshine.

The primrose plant came from Glen's in Charlevoix. I'm going to try to keep it alive until spring, so I can plant it in my flower garden.

I found I had to pre-mix all the colors of the striped fabric in fairly large quantities before doing the actual painting. I enjoy loading on the paint to get a "thick & juicy" look. Not only is the scene interesting, but I also like people to notice the beauty of the actual paint, its wonderful "mooshiness" and color.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Frozen Lake -- plein air field study -- oil on canvas -- 12x24" -- Margie Guyot

We finally had a balmy spell -- up above freezing -- and partly sunny, so I decided to take my gear down to the edge of Lake Michigan and do a painting. I love doing frozen lake paintings, even though I get pretty chilled doing so. I had on longjohns, smart wool socks, polartec pants & a heavyweight down coat. And gloves with the fingertips cutout, plus my trusty zebra hat. And special snowboots rated down to zero degrees. That wind coming off the ice can get pretty cold!

It was so cold my Soltek easel had one leg that was frozen shut. I couldn't expand it full length. Luckily, I was able to open it halfway, at least. That umbrella was balky to open, too. It's the best I've found, though. Bestbrella. I probably couldn't have painted this view without it, as the sun was shining through the back of the canvas.

This was painted at Banks Township Park, north of Eastport, on Old Dixie Highway. It's one of the few parks you can drive into in the winter. The county doesn't plow the parks. And I learned the hard way that cars can't drive through knee-deep snow!

This was pretty challenging to paint, but I loved the view. In the foreground is a small open pool. There are lots of small streams that drain into Lake Michigan and there was an open pool that looked interesting. The golden ochre color is from the color of the sand.

Notice the diagonal stripes? That's the way the waves had been running when they finally froze.

Out near the edge of the ice are a few pileups. Way across the bay is a view of part of the Leelanau Peninsula.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

"Red Cellophane" -- oil on canvas -- 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

Last Monday I was in Meijer's in Traverse City, looking for a pink flower to paint. None of their pink flowers looked very striking. And then I spied this red cellophane! Wow! My heart started beating faster (always a good sign!) and I knew this was what I had to paint. The red gerber daisies were actually rather dull and drab-looking, compared to the cellophane.

I've painted clear plastic before. That's relatively easy. But to do red? I found it impossible to mix reds and get them to look transparent. Everything looked way too dark and muddy. What I ended up going was painting the entire tablecloth, using Liquin in with the oil paints. Liquin helps oil paints dry a lot quicker.

Once the tablecloth was dry, I was able to do a thin wash of red with Liquin. I think it turned out pretty well.

One of the striking things about the red cellophane was the pink shadow it cast on the tablecloth. It took some figuring-out to do on this one.

That's another vintage tablecloth from my collection. They're all from garage sales I've visited over the years. Glad the mice haven't found them yet!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Purple Cabbage" -- oil on canvas -- 24x24" -- Margie Guyot

Cabbages are so weird-looking when you cut them open! Don't these halves look like something from the depths of the ocean? I forgot why I bought this little cabbage originally, but was looking around for something to paint. This tablecloth seemed to go perfectly with the cabbage halves, echoing the deep alizarin crimson tones. The blue swirly-glass bowls I've painted several times. Those swirls are tough! Even getting the color right is a challenge. In the past I've tried mixing viridian with a bit of blue. This time I relied on an old tube of manganese blue. So old, I had to hold a lighted match on the cap to warm up the hardened paint in order to unscrew it.

We finally had about 1 1/2 days of sun here, so I was furiously painting in the patterns of sunlight and shadow as quickly as possible.

Waste not, want not: I brought the cabbage into the house this afternoon and used in the "Russian Cabbage Borscht" recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

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

After finishing 2 paintings of onions, I was THROUGH with painting onions! But what to paint? What to paint? I felt frazzled. Somebody once told me that when I don't have a painting to work on, sometimes I feel like a frantic, little bird. That may be true. I'd bought 4 amaryllis bulbs over the weekend and potted them, but they won't bloom for several weeks.

I rooted around in my garage sale, vintage tablecloth collection -- for which I'm glad the mice haven't discovered yet. Found this one, horribly wrinkled, but zowie -- inspiration struck! No, it wasn't inspiration to iron it. I laid it out on my table and it looked pretty enough to paint all by itself (almost). I dug around in my collection of silk flowers and found this white violet. Aha! At last, a subject to paint!

Up here along the NW coast of Michigan, winters are typically very dreary: overcast, with snow every day. Blue skies are a rarity. Alas, no strong sunlight and shadow patterns most of the time. Some painters prefer painting by north light; I'm the opposite. I love the strong sunlight and shadows. But as you can see, I had none in this painting. Only the softer, diffused light. But that's OK, too. It snowed all day, lightly. Lake-effect snow, they call it.

I always love a good challenge and this tablecloth certainly was a toughie. I quickly realized I'd have to draw in the whole pattern. Once that was figured out, I could add the pot of violets. Wasn't sure if I could pull it off. The little wrinkles were tedious, but what else was there to do? Clean house? Ugh. Would rather paint wrinkles. The final touches on the tablecloth were to add dashes of heavy impasto white paint.

I think I'll be using this tablecloth AGAIN....

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Onions #2" -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

"Onions #1" -- oil on canvas -- 11x14" -- Margie Guyot

I did these 2 paintings over the weekend in my nice, warm studio as the wind howled and snow piled up outside. I love doing plein-air landscapes, but it's impossible in wind and snow.

Finishing the recent "Amaryllis" painting, I was hot to trot to do a larger, more complex painting with several amaryllis. I drove into Charlevoix, to K-Mart, where I got 4 red amaryllis bulbs for half-price. Potted them up and now it's a matter of having patience. I'm guessing they'll be blooming in 3 - 4 weeks. Meanwhile, what to paint? In desperation I grabbed these 4 onions and headed into the studio.

I'm a big fan of using vintage tablecloths, rescued from garage sales. This old tablecloth was made of heavy muslin, embroidered with blue wool. I set up things in front of the south-facing window, but it was still awfully dark. Sun in winter is a rare thing along the coastline. So I also put a studio light to the right. Which is why there is a hint of 2 sources of light. Maybe next time I'll put something to block the weaker light from the windows and just use the studio light.

I've got 2 little kitties about 3 months old that are very curious. They like being up on the table, batting around my onions and investigating my wet palette. When I leave the studio for the day, I always lock up my wet palette and set anything breakable out of their reach. Saturday I left for a few minutes to go make a cup of coffee. Both kitties were snoozing.

When I came back, the little female (Miss America -- named for her pretty face) had a yellow muzzle! She'd decided to do a little taste-test on the cadmium yellow medium. Yikes. It's very poisonous. I doubt she ingested much, but her little face had a light smear of yellow all over. I didn't know what to do. Wiping her down with turpentine didn't seem like a good idea. Maybe I could have dipped a rag in a solution of Murhpy's Oil Soap and wiped her face. I envisioned a grand struggle. In the end, I didn't do anything.

All night I would wake up, envisioning poor Miss America, dying. I was dreading going out to the studio for what I would find.

Amazingly, Miss America seems OK. None the worse for wear, I'm happy to report. Lesson learned: never trust a sleeping kitty -- lock up that palette!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, January 01, 2010

"Amaryllis" -- oil on canvas -- 24x12" -- Margie Guyot

A couple weeks ago I splurged on this amaryllis bulb. It'd been years since I'd gotten one, and I'd never tried the bi-color variety. Wow! I really love it! Because I'm not very familiar with amaryllis -- like, how long will it stay like this? -- I quickly painted this view to have for future reference, if nothing else. I'd love to use this flower in a larger still life.

Picasso, one of my little kitties, found it fascinating as well. He batted the leaves down with one swat of his little paw. Whenever I left the studio I had to set this poor plant up high on a shelf. Picasso and Miss America would have the entire plant in tatters, left to their own devices.

Amaryllis has such an odd shape to try to paint! I mean, it's basically very long and skinny. I happened to have this 24x12" canvas, thank goodness. But it was kind of a challenge to figure out how to make it an interesting painting, composition-wise. I look forward to painting this lovely plant again very soon, in a more complex setup. Love the bright red blooms!

Labels: , , ,

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.....

Labels: , , , , , , ,