French Valley Flower Farm

“Grapevine” — plein air field study — oil on birch panel 8 x 10″ by Margie Guyot

When your friend calls on a glorious June morning, asking if you’d like to go painting at a flower farm, you drop everything and GO! Not only was it “just” a flower farm — it was also designed to be a sort of secluded, magical, wedding venue, set out on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. There was a koi pond, rose gardens, snowball bushes galore and several funky antique outbuildings — with fairy lights. How could anybody go wrong? The owner treated us to a rather wild, bumpy ride on her ATV through the gardens, up the steep hillside, through the maple forest to see a glimpse of the lake. Paradise!

When we finally settled down to paint, we found it necessary to invent the blossoms on the peonies and roses. Winter hadn’t wanted to leave. Our summer weather had been delayed a couple weeks this year. Thank goodness we’d thought to bring our painting umbrellas along! The blazing sun and 83 degrees would have roasted our “northern bodies”. As I always tell people, anything over 75 is just too damned hot!

“The Peony Painter” — plein air field study in oil on 8 x 10″ birch panel by Margie Guyot

None of the buds on the peonies were open yet, so using the all-powerful tricks-of-the-trade, I fudged them. The only brushes I had with me were rather scuzzy, frayed-out #4 flats, so it was a struggle to paint in the little details of the figure. A green frog in the nearby koi pond occasionally shattered the hushed silence with sudden “glugs”. A great way to spend a June afternoon….

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