Sunday, January 19, 2020

January 19, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Dottie's Day

This morning started off cloudy and windy as the cold front started blowing in from the west.  Wind and painting isn't a great combination.  Clouds are good, though.  When the sky is wide enough to see them in all their sweeping glory, they are beautiful and one of my favorite things to paint.  They possess such a great variety of mood... calm, dramatic, intimidating.  They can feel soothing or energetic.  It's no wonder the sky can impact our mood.

DTL - 1/19/1 - Dune Ridge
We decided to paint at the beach since the eastern sky looked the most interesting.  As we unloaded our bags it started to sprinkle rain.  We set up under the gazebo on the beach walkover.  From there, we could great views of the dunes, ocean and sky.  We have great dunes at the North Beach.  Very overgrown with palms. cedars, grasses and flowers.  I loved the contrast of the darkness of the high dune ridge against the sky. The clouds were moving fast but the sky over the ocean was much more open and the clouds were warmed by the rising morning sun.  The soft yellows and blues were lovely.  

DTL - 1/19/2,3 - Georgia Peach Sky
We took a break and fan a few errands after the morning painting.  When your schedule of painting, photographing & posting occupies 12 hours each day, it is very easy to run out of food at home.  Thank goodness, we have to grocery shop for my mom every week or we might never make time to get there ourselves!  
We decided to try the marsh, in hopes that the afternoon/evening sunset color would be nice.  Good sunsets always need clouds and we definitely had good clouds.  I decided to do another diptych.  It just feels right scale-wise when you are painting the marsh.  Composition-wise they both have to make sense independently so it's really like painting two paintings in that sense. I loved the high dark clouds in contrast to the softer thinner clouds below.  We finished our paintings about 45 minutes before sunset so this is the color just getting started.  The sunset, and after sunset color tonight was full of bright intense pinks and oranges.  It was nice to be finished with painting and just stand back and watch it unfold.

Marc's Day

It's hard to remember that a couple of days ago I had on flip-flops and shorts.  I have to say though that I am more interested in painting on days like this, than I am on those sunny, bluebird sky "beach days".  There's something about a day with an attitude that gets me interested in seeing if I can understand it, and describe it in paint.  Everyone loves a beach day, sometimes I think I'm painting for  those few people who don't.  I'm happy to do that. 
Neither Dottie or I are as used these days to painting small as we are painting this month.  Dottie has never been a fan of painting small, I have grown to prefer to work larger too, both outside and inside. We've been resisting the urge to haul out some wider panels in the 1:2 ratio, a ratio, or wider, that in all honesty is about the only way to paint this area of big skies and expansive salt marsh, and to stick to our initial decision to paint all of these paintings as 9"x12" paintings.  A couple of days ago she broke the ice with the idea of painting a diptych, mounting two of our 9"x12" panels on the easel to make a 9"x24" formatted panel. That's all it took for me to say "hell yeah!, why not?".  I'm sure you'll be seeing more of these now.  It's simply that it opens up the possibilities for so much more inclusion of all of what we see that is so inspirational, without the restrictions of the smaller formatted panels. Some of this may be that we're a lot more comfortable now, after about 60+ paintings each this month, and want more out of this other than what we thought we'd want in the beginning.  I've never believed in restrictions on life in general, but on how I paint, or how I want to paint... NEVER!  These have been a blast to paint. I hope that you enjoy them too. I'm going to offer them for sale together, not separately, because they were designed as one composition, even though each could stand alone.  I believe, however, that the idea that I painted is the entire composition, not the separate parts.  

MH - 1/19/1,2 - Palmettos
We were under a gazebo to paint, due to rain falling, but not too bad of a morning.  Then a hell of a wind blew in, and much stronger rain, and that was the end.  See the video below.  I was afraid that the wind was going to blow the panels off of the panel holder.  My Art Box and Panel mast held strong.   I took on the challenge of painting the part of the dunes that are carpeted with the patterning of palmettos and cedars.  I could have spent another 30-40 minutes on this, but if I had I may have overworked it, who knows?  It made it far enough to make the statement, not far enough to go too far, so I'm happy with it.  Mostly happy to be painting on a larger surface for a change. 

MH - 1/19/3,4 - Marsh Ending
We had some 'daily duty' detours after our morning session, something that we have not paid much attention to since all of this started on January 1st, as our house, dogs, refrigerator, yard, you name it, can attest.  When we're getting ready to head out each morning, we truly believe that we will accomplish all of those 'other duties' when we get home in the early afternoon, because we're going to have all of these 3 or 4 paintings done before 2 or 3pm.  That almost never happens, in fact we hardly ever get done with all of this before 9 or 10pm, tired, hungry and knowing we have to get up and do it all again, tomorrow, over and over again.  But... WE LOVE IT and are already regretting our eventual having to stop our now embedded routine.  
Back to the painting, another diptych this afternoon.  Much calmer, but still windy, the beauty of the afternoon sky nullifying the conditions.  I love this marsh, but I happily acknowledge my debt to Dottie for showing me my new home, and for sharing her love for it, which in turn has grown into a love of my own for it.  Thanks for following us along.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

January 18, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Marc's Day
After my day yesterday, today seemed like a dream.  We drove back out to the Savannah NWR because for this weekend, the 4 mile wildlife drive was open.  It was beautiful, lot's of coots, a pretty fair number of gators, including one behemoth of a beast we spotted while walking on a dike off the road a bit.  Two of them were sitting on a bank, behind a large clump of weeds.  One of them had to be 11-12 feet long, massively prehistoric.  Of course we made a backwards retreat and drove on.
The refuge is a perfect waterfowl and wading bird habitat.  The paintings today reflect that, and my love for wildfowl.  
Three paintings in the box today, a little experimenting in my use of paint today, from one that was painstakingly tedious in it's construction.  It may not look like that in the end, but I fretted way too long on it as I was painting it.  I couldn't seem to back away from it, my nose up in it's face.  All that time I was trying to do the opposite... The last one was the opposite, freely brushed on in broken color.  Not sure if either approach means better or worse, it's the outcome that matters.  But, internally as a painter, you feel these things and they affect your attitude as you paint along.  Just something that went through my mind as I was painting today. I hope you enjoy them all, I ended up putting a signature on them instead of wiping and adding a selfie.  :-) 

MH - 1/18/1 - Coot Scoot
My first one was moving along, our first stop, as a painting of the marsh and it's morning sky.  While painting, we were constantly serenaded by coots, who were the main birds in charge today.  We also saw a few gallinules, lot's of coot chicks, some pied billed grebes, lots of anhingas, egrets, herons, cormorants, various birds of prey, especially marsh harriers.  We also had a massive alligator cruise through the scene mid morning.  At some point in the painting, it only made sense to include some coots.  They were doing their running water ballet partial take offs, and their "splash" landings all around us.  I painted this one guy who was up in front of me practicing touch and go's, scooting along through the marsh.

MH - 1/18/2 - Refuge Left
Dodging the other slow driving, stop and block the road, wildlife and mostly gator watching folks, we made a trip through the refuge and back in again before stopping at a wide spot along this road.  To the east were cattails and marsh grasses (see painting below), to the south I saw the road as it made the turn to the left along the wildlife drive.  I liked the line of the road and it's curve, flanked by all that gator territory to the left of it.  Something that Dottie and I have talked about frequently, since we've been spending most of our time in the studio working on larger paintings, is how difficult it is to get the broad sweep, the vastness of this sort of a landscape on a 12" wide by 9" high panel.  This should be a 30 x 40 at least in order to open the space up enough to show all that I wanted to show.  What happens to me is that I end up with my elbows locked into my rib cage, my forearms and wrists being held as still and quiet as possible, and my nose rubbing against the board getting paint on it trying to fit all that observation into these few square inches!  I'm fine with the result, actually kind of enjoy the intimacy of it, but painting it is harder than painting it would be if it were a much larger canvas. 

MH - 1/18/3 - Harrier
All afternoon we had one male Northern Harrier, a beauty of a bluish gray and white bird, floating like they do, all around us at low altitude.  I was painting the marsh and decided it was appropriate to place on just at the horizon where they're frequently seen as the cruise over the top of the cattails and grasses in search of rodents and small birds.  I painted this piece quite broadly, with more freedom than what I used in the painting before this one.  I like the results, it feels loose and alive.  Thanks for looking in and following us along. More tomorrow...

Dottie's Day

A long and beautiful day at the refuge.  It is such a wide and wonderful landscape, punctuated here and there by trees.  As things go with these kind of parks, the places you most want to paint are inaccessible.  If only you could set up your easel and paint in the middle of the road, or the swamp.  There were so many awesome places to paint that would have put me right in gator territory.  But it is their home, I was just visiting and stayed a healthy distance away. 

DTL - 1/18/1 - Winter Marsh
It was calm, quiet and overcast this morning.  The colors were muted and soft looking out over the marsh.  I liked the distant treeline and the bright sky up against it.

DTL - 1/18/2 - Blue Sky
This was painted around lunchtime and most of the clouds had cleared off leaving just a little haze.  The sun was behind me as I was painting, so the sky was that wonderful soft blue that it gets in the winter and the grasses were lit up in every shade of gold.  Lots of dead grass floating in the shallow water gave it a wonderfully wild feel.  The first two paintings of today, I painted on the linen panels.  Maybe I should say, I fought with the linen panels.  It is interesting... at the beginning of this month, they seemed ok.  Not my absolute favorite surface to paint on but pretty good.  As the month has progressed, I have begun to dislike them more and more and prefer the more absorbent ground that is on the hardboard.  I think painting so much this month, I am starting to really notice things like surfaces, brushes, paint, that may have never occurred to me before because I was only painting outside a couple of times a week not every day like I am now.  I am starting to get picky. 

DTL - 1/18/3 - Perfect Chaos
Definitely the most fun painting of the day!  This one was an absolute joy to do.  Painted on the hardboard, this painting was just "easy" to paint.  The paint went on and stayed where I wanted it to and was easily manipulated with second and third layers.  And I may be the only person in the world, but I love the subject... all the lines and tangles and backlit limbs.  The cool little tangle of vines that was probably a squirrels nest but looked almost like a hammock.  It's always nice to end the day on a high note, with a painting that is fun to paint.

Friday, January 17, 2020

January 17, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Dottie's Day

So today was Friday but in "workspeak" it was Monday. :)  We have been in a great groove of painting this week.  Not to say that we haven't had struggles here and there with paintings, or reptiles or weather but things were rolling along.  Today... not so much.  It wasn't a bad day, but it just felt disjointed and that affects painting.  It was Senior Center day for mom today, which means we drop her off, drive somewhere and try and get a couple of paintings done before we pick her up.  Today we checked out a couple of new spots but the wind was gusting about 30mph so we settled on a different spot that was out of the wind.  It was a great place to paint but because we spent time scouting locations, we only had time to paint one painting each before we had to leave and pick up my mom.  After we dropped mom off, it was 2pm.  Now we were fighting the clock to get 2 more paintings done before sunset.  Winds were still gusting so we decided to go home and paint the marsh behind our house.  That would have been a great choice... not much wind but just like working from home, you have to deal with interruptions.  Sometimes, it doesn't take much to throw you off course....

DTL - 1/17/1 - Marsh Oaks 
This was a great idea.  Or so I thought.  We found a great spot to paint out of the worst of the wind but the sky was clear and the sun was blinding.  There was a bridge to our left and marsh, creek and trees to our right.  The problem was, the only subject to paint that was out of the glare of the sun was the bridge.  And it really wasn't very paintable. All the great stuff meant either painting in full sun or putting our easels up agains the sunlight which, I have learned, my eyes don't like.  Like I have mentioned before the glare leaves me struggling to see color accurately.  But there seemed to be no other option so I set my easel up and got to work.  The shadows initially were great on the oaks but as time passed they completely disappeared and flattened out. I painted what I remembered but once again, when I pulled it off the easel, the color and contrast was not what I thought I had painted. It evidently takes me more than half a month to learn a lesson.  I just keep doing the same thing expecting different results.  Some people would call that stubborn, or worse, I call it optimism :)

DTL - 1/17/2 - Grass Skirt
For the second painting, I was determined NOT to look into the sun or have the sun behind my canvas.  The marsh would have been great but that meant I would be looking into the sun.  No go.  We have a natural area between us and our neighbors and there is a great little untrimmed palm that looks as though it has a grass skirt.  There was a nice pattern of light on the fronds and I set up to paint.  I had a different, much sketchier, looser painting in mind than what I ended up painting.  Sometimes envisioning an idea of what you want to paint is a great thing.  It gives you a plan.  Sometimes it can backfire.  That's what happened here.  What I didn't take into account when I decided to paint the palm was that the wind was gusting. Duh!! Unlike a normal tree which goes back to its shape when the wind blows, a palm can completely change shape.  One big frond twists and moves behind another or turns in upon itself.  And then 15 minutes later the wind blows again and it rearranges itself once more.  So after painting and wiping out and painting again, I abandoned my original idea and just painted the tree.  All the while in the back of my mind, the clock is ticking.... and I still have one more painting to do.

 DTL - 1/17/3 & 1/17/4 Sunset Shadows (diptych)
I had about an hour before there was no light to paint by.  I wasn't sure what my first painting of the day looked like and I wasn't real sure the second one was viable either since I had painted it in such a crazy manner.  So I decided to clip two panels together and paint a diptych... it makes total sense when you only have an hour to paint.  Right?!  I would have liked about another half an hour but I painted up until all my light was gone. There is a good bit of glare because it is so wet but I'm pretty happy with it, considering. AND, it was fun.  Finally, a bigger canvas than 9"x12" :)

Marc's Day

Some days...Today I felt like all of the lessons I've learned about painting vanished, blown away by the gusty winds that were whipping us and our easels around today.  It was a great day for enjoying an incredibly bright sun and the warmth it enveloped us in.  For whatever reason(s), my head was not focused on my job today.  It happens, might be that after 16 days of doing this, my enthusiasm needed a little time out?!  I don't know.  As always, we had a great time being out doing our work, being together for another day.  I just couldn't paint!  I completed 2 pieces, had a 3rd one about done but was so unimpressed with what I was doing that I scraped it off and illustrated my personal impression of my day in a serious self portrait over it.  After I de-"faced" it and was looking at this photo of it, I realized that the scraping had done a nice job of painting a painting!  If only I'd resisted the urge to memorialize my mug...

MH - 1/17/1 - Edge Of The Moon
We took Dottie's mom to her day at the Senior Center this morning and decided to head down to Skidaway Island, and the Moon River (Perry Como) before heading back to pick her up in a few hours.  A few hours should have been plenty of time to paint at least two pieces, and had it not been for a very windy morning, we might have done that.  It was really tough to find anywhere that wasn't in the path of a very strong, easel and face beating wind.  I painted this at our stop, along side of the Moon River Bridge.  Light was high, bright, full face on the subject, washing out the color.  Not a situation that would I normally choose to paint but did due to the wind.  Painting is always a challenge, I was, and did add some more color combinations to my color vocabulary, so it was not a waste to paint it.  Just not ideal. 

MH - 1/17/2 - Sparkle Marsh
We returned to our house to paint after the lunch hour.  There was a high tide, so our view of the marsh was a wet one.  When I walked into the backyard to see what I wanted to do, I saw an interesting view to paint.  It was a shimmering marsh, close valued colors that let the bright reflections coming off of the base of the marsh grasses shimmer against the grayed colors of the grasses and water.  It's a great idea to paint, I will probably try it again on a larger scale.  I wanted to paint it again, post high tide... the result is below. 

MH - 1/17/3 - Self Portrait Of The Toddler Artist (at age 64-1/2)
Is exactly how I felt this afternoon painting this one.  I think there was about 1/4" of paint on it, going NO where, when I decided to save others' eyes from serious damage, and scraped it off.  But I was still thinking that I needed my daily three, oh...the pressure... so this became my first 'plein air' self portrait.  I may do more.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

January 16, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Marc's Day

Back to the beach, but not without some diversionary tactics first.  Last night we decided that since it was going to be a great day today (qualified), we would get out at about sunrise to capture the entire day on the beach, in all of it's warm, January beauty.  Because beginning tomorrow, and for about a week, the weather gods are not supposed to be looking kindly on our daily plein air painting.  It's not freezing, but our highs are likely to drop into the 40's and 50's next week with some rain and wind.  The blush is off the rose!  Back to this morning... We're up doing our routine which mostly involves COFFEE, and our daily juicing.  We began juicing at the end of September and are addicts.  I'm sure that there is a large bare spot on earth now because of our own personal need for things that grow and have water in them.  Seriously, I've always been a good, really good veggie eater.  But never have I ever used as much produce since beginning to do this as we do now.  We juiced, sucked down coffee, took care of the pooches, and headed out to a beach on the north side of Tybee with high expectations for the day.  Easels were just set up, brushes about to be wet when the skies opened up enough to drive us off the open beach.  We've discovered that these panels don't like getting wet.  
Took it all home thinking we'd paint looking at our marsh from under the porch, then the rain stopped.  We carried on, went off to paint albeit a little later than planned.  Even with the delay, we both managed to get 4 paintings done the end.  And the end was as gorgeous a sunset as we could ask for. 

MH - 1/16/1 - Fast Morning
This is an ironic title considering the start.  Loving the atmosphere at the beginning of this one, it changed so fast that most of the painting was painted from what I remember the scene to have been.  We stood up on a boardwalk to paint so that we had a little more elevation.  Just a different view point. 

MH - 1/16/2 - Beach Greens 
From the same location as the previous painting, I chose to use some of the low growing cedars that are in the next highest zone back from the dunes to make a composition.  The dark shape is what intrigued me about it.  

MH - 1/16/3 - January Life
Sitting on one of the jetties for the afternoon I found it sort of nice to relax, take in the absolute beauty of the day, and then try to paint that 'feeling' into what I was enjoying in front of me.  Everything was bright, the light, the color, and people's moods.  A couple of brothers from the west coast stopped by to chat, joke, and then took our picture.  A rare photo of us not taken by us, but by someone else! 

MH - 1/16/4 - Jetties
Last of the day painted looking to the SW and almost into the sun.  The long lines that the jetties make, laying silent and steady in their bed of sand are interesting contrasts to the soft rising forms that the dunes are.  There was a lot of complimentary color happening, yellows and grayed violets.  A perfect ending...

Dottie's Day
Beach. 78 degrees in January.  Sunshine.  All day long to paint it.  I'm not sure it gets much better.  At least in my opinion.  I have so loved these days of summer in the middle of January.  This time of year, I'm just usually going through the motions.  I don't do well with short days and no sunshine. Before I moved back to the beach, January and February and most of March seemed like endless days of dreary, gray or rainy weather. No light.  No sun.  It was good for getting work done in the studio but that was about it.  I dreaded it every year for many, many years.  I know there is a such a thing as "seasonal affective disorder".  I'm not sure I had it but I definitely felt that depression that the lack of light causes.  It's like a damper on your soul.   Since moving back to my hometown, I haven't felt that feeling even on cloudy, rainy or foggy days because here even on those days there is always light.  The sky is so big, you can always see light in some direction. You can see the movement and the change in the sky and it in turn, gives your soul a feeling of lightness.  Every short winter day here, to me, is such a gift of light.  

DTL - 1/16/1 - Soft Beginning
The last of the clouds were heading out to sea.  The softness of all of the layers of clouds and the light from the sun illuminating the ocean created this wonderful mood.  Lightness, warmth, peace and contentment.  The perfect beginning to any day.  

DTL - 1/16/2  - The Breakers Beyond
How quickly everything changes here.  There is a saying "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change".  That pretty much sums it up.  This was painted immediately after the painting above.  The wind picked up as the tide started coming in and the sky brightened as the clouds moved out to sea.  I loved all of the movement created by the dune grass and the breakers beyond.  There seemed to be a lot of energy here, in what I would consider a pretty typical beach scene.  We had a handful of visitors come by as I was painting this one, as well as a phone call from my youngest son reporting on his spring semester of college classes.  A lot was going on.
It is ongoing effort, when you are outside painting to stay focused on your painting but also be able to engage in conversation with people interested in what you are doing.  A lot of artists are unnerved by inquisitive people watching or taking pictures.  And it can be distracting.  But that is part of painting outside from life.  The people walking by or stopping to talk are part of your painting. Even though they may not be technically painted in, they are in your painting in the bigger sense of things.  Painting outside comprises all of the elements surrounding what you are painting.  The conversations with people walking by, that gets into your painting as well.  It adds to it...rounds out your experience and how you feel about where you are, what you see and who you meet.  They add to the emotion of the moment.

DTL - 1/16/3 - In The Shallows
The tide was going out and I was struck by all of the color in the tide pools and the small wavelets around the rocks.  I also liked the way the sand dipped down around them. When I was a child, there were lots of jetties on the beach.  All man made and were usually long wooden beams, with spikes holding them all together, along with rocks piled up around them.  The wood in the beams quickly became waterlogged and splintered and the spikes rusted.  As a kid, you quickly learned to swim or body surf far enough away from the jetties that you didn't get swept toward one by a big wave.  Although all of us that were in the ocean often enough, came away with some great story and a scar to go with it from a jetty encounter.  Those jetties are long gone but some of the rocks remain.  They are interesting to paint and the water that swirls around them is full of color and pattern.  

DTL - 1/16/4 - Sandbar Breakers
The last painting of the day.  It was almost 4:00 and I just couldn't bear to leave the beach.  I wanted just one more hour to enjoy the light and the warmth.  The tide had gone way out.  There is a huge sandbar off of the south end and at dead low tide you can almost walk across to Little Tybee.  The waves break quickly and rhythmically across the sandbar and there is such a nice pattern to it.  The colors were rich, as they always are at the end of the day and it was just one of those afternoons and one of those paintings that makes you feel warm and happy inside.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January 15, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Dottie's Day

After yesterdays run in with alligators,  it was time to abandon the fresh water for some painting closer to salt water.  Another warm day here, highs near 80 with only a little light fog and haze, sent us in the direction of the beach this morning.  We settled on the south end of Tybee that overlooks Little Tybee Island.  It is always a great place to paint because it is the southernmost tip of the island. It faces the Atlantic but it is also at the entrance to the Back River which flows inland. There are great views across the river of Little Tybee and the dunes here are high and have great character to them. Most of my large paintings of dunes, have come from this spot on the south beach.  I come back again and again for inspiration. 
We set up our easels next to several lifeguard stands being stored on the beach during off season and got to work.  

DTL - 1/15/1 - Hazy Morning
There was this beautiful purple/blue haze on the horizon behind Little Tybee.  The early morning clouds were starting to break up as the sun climbed higher in the sky and I loved the opposing diagonals created by the clouds.  This could have been a total sky painting, there was definitely enough interest there to just focus on that.  But I also liked the contrast of the dark clump of pine trees on Little Tybee.  It added a little something different to what would have been a mostly blue and white painting. I felt like it grounded the painting somehow.  

DTL - 1/15/2 - Cats
So for a complete change of pace, I turned to my right and painted all the beached catamarans on the sand nearby.  I had been looking at them all morning and they made such a nice abstract composition.  I definitely didn't want to approach it as a portrait of boats.  What I loved about it was the complete confusion of all of the boats pulled up on the beach.  The last boat tipped up made for a nice juxtaposition against all the horizontals in the composition.  I simplified the background to keep the focus on the boats.  When I decided to paint this, I wasn't sure if I was going to regret my decision halfway through or enjoy painting them.  You just never know when you make that leap.  But I ended up thoroughly enjoying the whole painting.  It turned out to be very relaxing, and the fact that I was standing barefoot in the sand in shorts and a tank top, listening to the surf really put the icing on the cake.  

DTL - 1/15/3 - Tag
By the time I finished my second one, Marc had already finished his third one, so I decided I needed a simpler composition than a dozen boats for my final painting.  Not to mention, I was getting hungry. :)  The sky over Little Tybee was so amazingly bright and had small backlit clouds that looked like they were running across the sky playing tag.  A's always what I am looking for. 
I'm starting to really like painting "glare".  It is hard on your eyes, but I find if I pull my hat low over my eyes and save it for the last painting of the day that it doesn't bother me too much.  And the payoff is oh, so much fun to capture!
It was great to get back to the beach after a couple of days of painting inland.  Between the waves and the sand and the's like meditation for me.  I am so relaxed but clear headed and I feel like I can really focus on painting.  It definitely is my happy place.

Marc's Day

Staying on Tybee somehow seems better than wandering around all over the place.  I think that's a lesson that is to be learned for anyone out doing daily outdoor painting.  Usually, you can find, and be more successful, if you pay attention to your most familiar surroundings.  I was talking to Dottie today, while we were painting, about this idea.  What if you paint in your immediate vicinity, where you live?  Why isn't that just as vital as running around for miles and miles to feel like you're doing something more important?  I certainly believe it is, and if you've read John F. Carlson's book 'Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting', you'll remember that he has many sections dedicated to what it is that makes "art".  He recommends not being a "tourist" painter, but sticking close to home and painting your own backyard as competently as you can.  That is just as valid as the alternative.  Who doesn't love to travel, I've done my share and painted in some spectacular places over the years.  When I feel like I'm really connected to my subject, however, it's usually when I'm in my own backyard, so to speak.  So today I decided to stand on one place, did this same thing yesterday, and try to understand what I was seeing in a more internal way, and to then interpret that without as much concern for the specifics as I was for the emotion of what I was feeling.  I ended up painting 3 fairly similar pieces, all featuring a look across Tybee Creek towards part of Little Tybee Island.  Those were preceded by the one I started the day out with, which was at first shrouded in a value closing haze that quickly opened up and let the sun in as I began to paint.  No matter what, standing in the sand painting barefoot is a good day! 

MH - 1/15/1 - Haze And Oats
I had an idea, then I painted another painting.  But it was the first one of the day so I think some 'warming up' was required before I found my groove.  Also, when I conceived of what I was going to do with this one, there was an overriding haze that turned this scene into a large middle value mass only broken by the light on the sand.  When the sun burned that off and I was able to see more into the scene, I lost my initial intention.  So I went with what was there.  

MH - 1/15/2 - Little Tybee
This was the first of three pieces today that focused on just the sky and the very washed out atmospheric color that was there, looking across at Little Tybee Island, at high tide.  In all three, I tried not to describe Little Tybee, or the foreground, as much as to focus on the veil of color in the sky.  I'm afraid that the colors are so soft that my camera didn't do a good job of picking all of that up.  It was a satisfying way to work, stand in one spot and paint time marching on.  

MH - 1/15/3 - More Little Tybee
This one, the second of the three, was painted as the tide was going out, a much calmer shore and less haze in the distance.  I moved my view to the right of the first one, the sky was a darker value there and the glare wasn't as strong.  Since there weren't any waves coming on shore to speak of, I used a little slice of sand to anchor the bottom of the painting.  I really enjoyed letting my own artistic input say more here than what the subject dictated.

MH - 1/15/4 - A Little Soft
The last piece of the three is looking even further to the right, to the west.  By this time the sky had cleared up a lot, there were still clouds but not as much humidity.  So everything was stronger in color.  The time progression here was from about Noon to 3pm for the three paintings to be painted.  I think that more of this sort of thing will be coming out of me as the month progresses.  I enjoy the idea of the series of time passing in one location.  We will see. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

January 14, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Marc's Day
We stayed up to watch LSU beat Clemson last night (great game), and paid for it today!  We decided to 'get out of town' and go paint along the wildlife drive at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.  Upon arriving we discovered that NO ONE is allowed into the refuge right now because they're repairing damage and doing clean up from Hurricane Irma's passing through.  Dang, we were pumped to get in there to explore and paint.  Since we couldn't do that, we drove a few miles to another branch of the refuge, Tupelo Trail, and walked in about a half mile or so to paint.  It was a pretty drab morning, not strong light, no moody fog or other atmospheric niceties.  But we did paint, both of us a little less than in top form, partly due to the football game last night, partly because the location where we decided to stop in the refuge wasn't a great spot to find compositions... let's just say A LOT of reeds and very little water, and dike roads.  Later in the day it became very nice with an active sky and some ground cloud shadowing happening.  I made a trip or two back to the parking area to fetch some things (lunch and panels) from the truck.  On the first trip back, I ran across a gator on the bank of one of the canals, covered in so much red clay that it looked like a terra cotta statue.  A little further along an otter stuck it's head up over the bank, took one look at me and vanished.  Just before reaching the truck a gangly looking great blue heron stood in front of me with a fish about a foot long in it's beak.  It also decided I wasn't good company, and took flight.  When I began walking back to our painting spot, the otter had had enough time to feel more secure in my harmlessness.  It climbed up the bank from the canal, ran across the dike road about 10 ft in front of me on it's way over the other side and into the marsh.  I love otters, such a playful, but completely wild forager of fishes.  We finished off the day in a hurry due to a loud, growling old gator somewhere near us.  I'll let Dottie tell you about her gator induced stopping point!  

How every evening begins... paintings head to a small space we have to be photographed and put into drying racks.  It's sort of nice to have a fixed spot to do this every day, no adjusting lights or tripod/camera.  It took a few sessions to figure out how to use the polarizing filter on the camera, and the polarizing film on the lights, correctly to avoid glare on our very wet paintings.  The results are pretty good now.

MH - 1/14/1 - NWR Savannah
In front of me was a vast almost crop like expanse of cattail leafage and other freshwater marsh grasses, all at least 6' high, maybe higher.  I felt like I was looking at a field of corn in Iowa, so perfectly similar, no variation to the growth.  Barely any water was visible.  The light was not sharp, not diffused, it was really pretty flat.  When you face these times as painters, times when you've taken time to travel somewhere that you want to paint (remember this wasn't our choice, it was the result of our choice being unavailable), and you need to do the work because to move would put a time crunch on your plans, you might find yourself painting with a less than ideal frame of mind.  I think that fairly describes this morning.  I tried to find a way to simplify all that, to create a more interesting view than really existed. It was nice listening to the coots and rails all around us though. 

MH - 1/14/2 - Tupelo Trail Haze
Mid day painting, the sun had warmed up the marsh around us enough to cause more moisture in the air.  I was looking into the light and decided to choose a small portion of what was in front of me and see if I could make it as subtle as possible and still talk about the light.  Don't know if I did, but I did enjoy this painting and might take it up larger one day.

MH - 1/14/3 - Tupelo Trail Sky
Last painting of the afternoon proved to be a quick one, and the sky was the reason.  Passing groups of clouds, top and back lit by the high sun , is always a good contrasting idea to paint.  I loved how all that light in the sky forced the land mass to become a silhouette.  That was enough for me to get going on it.  One thing that we've both talked about regarding this month's painting project is that we both wish many times that we could switch it up and use a different format for some paintings.  Today it didn't make any sense at all not to be painting on larger 1:2 ratio canvases!  But we've decided to stick with our plan, make all of these paintings the same size.  We will go back to the refuge though, to paint at another time with larger, wider formatted canvases and boards! 

Dottie's Day
Where to begin?! Today was definitely a scramble.  We started off with one idea of where we were painting and ended up with another less than ideal spot. With the short January days, once we make a commitment to a spot, we pretty much have to stay there to get our three paintings done.  The landscape was beautiful but for me it was much better suited to larger studio paintings than small plein air paintings.  That was the first problem I faced...trying to simplify a very complex scene made up of so many different grasses and scrubby shrubs and trees.  There would be a couple more problems I would face before the day was over.  But, as always, it was a beautiful day to be outdoors in sunshine and 80 degree temperatures.   A beautiful day to observe the wild landscape and the creatures in it. A beautiful day to put paint to canvas and try to learn something from the experience.  

DTL 1/14/1 - January Color Study
This started out as a much more complicated painting.  I worked on it for about an hour and it just felt too busy.  Too much information.  I struggle with that in these small paintings.  I am so used to painting so much larger.  Instead of 9"x12" panels, I feel like I get three postage stamps out to paint on every day.  It is getting easier, after 14 days, but it still isn't comfortable yet.  I still want room to paint.  Getting back to this painting, I looked at it after an hour and wasn't happy so I wiped it off and did a much simpler color study of the early morning light on the old rice fields. I thought I might come back to it later in the day and do a little more but I think the simplicity works.
DTL - 1/14/2  - Layers
Here I go with the complex again.  I loved the way the landscape separated into layers, like a layer cake.  They were very distinct and evenly spaced.  I had moved about 30 feet down the trail from where I painted the first one.  There was swampy marsh on either side of the trail.  Beautiful tall reeds of all kinds and there was water but not much where I was standing. As I painted, birds called to each other, and the grasses rattled in the breeze.  But I kept hearing this noise every so often, a very low guttural sound, almost like a grunt.  I kept thinking that it sounded like a gator.  But only the tips of the grasses were moving and the sound was very intermittent.  I chalked it up to my imagination and kept painting.  

DTL - 1/14/3 - Take 2
I finished my second painting and started this one.  It was a much more complex marsh scene with more grasses in the foreground.  I liked the way the whole scene was backlit with very little color.  
I was working away and Marc had gone back to the truck to get another panel, when out of nowhere about 3 feet away from me came a loud and very long bellow.  There had been an alligator there the whole time I was painting.  That WAS what I had been hearing.  
I must have jumped a foot off the ground.  I started trying to grab all of my stuff and in my excitement, tripped over my easel with my painting on it, totally smearing the whole bottom half.  I moved myself and my stuff over to where Marc had been set up about 20 feet away.  
I had to completely wipe off the bottom of the painting to try and salvage it.  It seemed like forever before Marc got back and with my concentration gone, I changed the bottom of the painting to just water.  Hence the name, Take 2.  I tried to start a 4th painting and got it blocked in just in time to hear that dang gator bellow again.  At that point I decided that it was his house, not mine, and it was time to go! 

Monday, January 13, 2020

January 13, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views

All images are photographed late in the evening for posting the same night we paint them.  We strive to reproduce the color of the paintings here as close to our originals as we can, but some variation is probable.  The paintings are labeled with our initials preceding the date label and title.  The date label is Month/Day/Order Painted. 

All of these paintings can be purchased on our website.  This link will take you to the page where they're posted... Salt Marsh Studios.

Dottie's Day

Today was Senior Center day :) so we painted in Savannah at Bonaventure Cemetery while mom had her morning social time with her friends.  She enjoys it so, makes me feel guilty that I can't get her there more often.  It was foggy on Tybee as we were driving in but by the time we set up the fog for the most part had lifted.  There was still some light fog and haze in the distance though creating some nice atmosphere.  

DTL 1/13/1 - Around The Bend
I loved the muted color of this scene.  Everything was some version of gray.  It felt peaceful and calm. The breeze was blowing and it was a  nice way to start off the morning.  

DTL - 1/13/2 - Draped 
 I stayed in the same spot to paint the second painting.  The tide was starting to go out and the sky was a little brighter but the sun hadn't burned through the clouds yet.  There were a couple of things about this scene that captured my imagination.  The tree was leaning over the edge of the river and bark was in beautiful shades of pinks, grays and greens.  An old tree, it bore the scars of limbs long cut off.  Another thing that I loved was the way the moss was heavily draped over a couple of the  limbs, like clothes on a clothes line, swaying in the breeze.  I painted in the tree trunk first trying to get all the colors that I saw and was glad I did because not long after the sun came out and the trunk lost all color and just became a dark against the water and sky.

DTL - 1/13/3 - Afternoon Low
This time of year, there is still so much color in the marsh grass.  Oranges, golds and greens.  This was a lovely little view from the bank looking out over the Wilmington River.  There was still a little water in the mud flats that hadn't receded yet, and I liked the way my eye traveled following the color patterns.  

Marc's Day

When the winds are light, the dew point/temperature spread is close to the same, and the temperature at about 9:00am is pushing 70ºF... you know it's going to be a great day!  And it was.  On Instagram I follow a trio of guys who call themselves TybeeIslandFishing, they spend most of their time, from what I can tell... fishing.  And I love watching their enthusiasm for a sport that I also love, and am frequently torn by, that is 'to fish or to paint?'.  This afternoon we were painting our past for the day at the Turners Creek boat ramp parking lot on Whitemarsh Island when a muscle car pulled up with two of the Tybee Island Fishing guys, Andrew and Phil, in it!  We're constantly meeting people out painting, for me it's usually people from Iowa, Wisconsin or Minnesota... I recognize the accents.  Meeting two thirds of this group of friends who spend, from what I can tell, most of their time fishing, was a real treat!  Thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson's admonition... "Art is a jealous mistress...", I'm reminded that painting is all consuming no matter how many extra 'joys in life' you have in your quiver.  I'm a hunter, fisherman, archer, pilot, skier, like to dabble in woodworking, speed walker, fly tier, and more.  You know what gets 99% of my time, that is aside from family?  Painting...  To become as good as you hope to be, and probably will never be, most of everything else that you like to do has to be sacrificed... dat's da facts ma'am!  Thankfully, with worlds online like Instagram, I can indulge in a lot of those things that I have sacrificed time to, like Tybee Island Fishing!  

MH - 1/13/1 - Park View
This morning, after dropping Dottie's mom off at the Senior Center, we headed over to Bonaventure Cemetery, thinking that it might be fogged in, it wasn't.  But we did have a nice high tide, so there was a lot of water along the river side of the area that we park.  I walked down onto a low area and looked out towards the river.  The amount of dark shapes created by the Spanish Moss was what I was interested in.  

MH - 1/13/2 - Wilmington River
After Park View, I felt like I had to swing a bigger brush.  I walked towards the river and saw a nice composition using the foreground tangled mass of flotsam, grasses in the water, and the layers of marsh heading off into the distance.  I decided I wasn't going to get caught up in painting all those vertical grasses as I saw them.  So I screwed my eyeballs down into a seriously tight squint, and painted what remained.  I'm kind of happy with this one just because I didn't paint it all, but painted the impression with some arm swing.  

MH - 1/13/3 - Almost Low
This spot is where we met the Tybee Island Fishing crew.  It was an interesting tidal flat, still retaining some of the water from being covered earlier, but only about an hour from absolute low tide.  What was so interesting were the dark areas of mud chunks, sitting on the warmer pluff mud, with sky reflecting remnant water spots.  I'm still working on keeping my strokes larger, less concentration on details, looking more for an impression than a description.