Otter Creek

“Where Otter Creek Empties into Lake Michigan” — plein air field study in oil on birch panel 8 x 10″ by Margie Guyot

Lori Feldpausch and I had just finished our first painting of the day at Empire, overlooking Sleeping Bear Dunes. While lugging our equipment back to the car we met a friendly old codger who appeared to be living in his van with his dog. “Drive south on 22 and turn right on Esch,” he said. “It’ll take you to where Otter Creek empties into Lake Michigan. Very pretty!”

Very pretty, indeed! We set up in a marvelous spot with open water and massive blocks of ice. Neither of us talk while painting — speed is of the essence! — and the colors and shapes were changing by the minute. I really loved this view because of the natural abstract composition. It was very exciting to see — and do.

As you can see in the photo, I’ve got a little, gray plastic “viewer gadget” resting on the left side of my Soltek easel. My first teacher, Clyde Aspevig, taught us to use a viewer to help compose our layouts. Each of his workshop students were given a piece of mat board with a rectangle cut out of the center. That was my first “viewer” — and I kept it for years, mending it with duct tape before finally graduating to a plastic, adjustable viewer. I’ve gone through 3 or 4 of these and use them for everything — landscapes, still lifes and even portraits.

My setup at Otter Creek

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