Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Show... February 14 - February 16!!!

We're recovering from our daily routine and missing it all at the same time.  But, the house is clean, the dogs remember who we are, and we realize how much more time there is in a day if you're not out trying to meet the goals that we were.

Now it's time to get ready for our showing of all of the 196 paintings completed!  The studio is a challenge to see how they'll all fit. But if you show up at 51 Johnny Mercer Blvd, Suite A1 on February 14 at 5:00 pm, we promise to be ready.  If you can't make it then, we'll be open on the following two days, February 15th, 10am-4pm and February 16th, 12noon - 4pm.

Hope to see you there.  Thanks to all of you who have followed along and given us your support, or become collectors of our work, or added to your collections of our work.  We are grateful.

- Marc and Dottie

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January 31, 2020 - A New Year, Two Views... The End!

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

What a month!  Where to begin?!  Marc and I have been talking a lot over the last week about the last day...dreading it and wondering how we would feel.  It has been the most exciting, challenging and amazing first month of any year in my 54 years. I can hardly believe that it is over.  It's like the days all fall into place behind me now.  At once a blur and crystal clear.  We celebrated last night and talked late into the night about all of the moments we shared out there... good, bad, funny and all of those breakthrough moments of clarity.  
It was a challenging day for me yesterday.  I think my heart and mind were full of the emotion of it all.  I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat most of the day, and not from all of the wind and the rain.  I wasn't happy with a lot of how I painted yesterday, either. It was tough.  I wanted to say so much more than I felt like they were saying.  I think I was trying to sum up the experience of the whole month in yesterday's paintings.  Impossible, I know but it felt like that.  I painted a total of 5 paintings yesterday and then sat on the porch in the rain and painted a gouache study of the old oak outside.  I don't think I wanted the day or the adventure to end.
Moving on from January, I think we will look at a lot of things differently, and like Marc, I think I need some time to digest the 31 days of January before I can really write about it.

DTL - 1/31/1 - Morning Blend
We were out at daybreak to try and get an early start before the rain.  There was a lovely lavender sky behind the clouds that were heading quickly our way and I tried to get that in as quickly as I could before it disappeared.  I had just blocked in the marsh when the rain started coming down.  My panel and paintbox were covered in raindrops as we ran to the truck.

DTL 1/31/2 - Light On The Horizon
This was actually my 3rd painting of the morning.  My second was a wiper.  I struggled getting focused with that one, my emotions were running high.  We went and got coffee and a apple fritter and warmed up a little and Marc tried to talk me off the ledge.  :)  We then headed back out to paint the marsh before the next wave of rain hit.  I felt better about this one.  The sky had brightened a bit and the tide was starting to come in.  I loved the soft color of the marsh grass and the water reflecting the lavender color in the sky.  I struggled a lot with this one too, scraping it down a couple of times before I finally got the feeling I wanted.

DTL - 1/31/3 - Before The Rain 
The tide was coming in and we thought we had time for just one more before the rain hit us.  The glow in the water was nice against the gray sky.  It was a sweet and somber ending to finish in the spot that we had started a month earlier.

DTL - 1/31/4 - Little Boat House
When we got back home I wasn't ready for the day to end.  It just still felt unfinished.  I just had this nagging need to paint another one.  I went out and sat on the screened in porch and painted a gouache study (see below) of the tree outside, hoping that doing so would satisfy that feeling.  I enjoyed the peacefulness of it and the chance to paint in another medium for a change, but once I was finished I still had that uneasiness.  So with a little less than an hour of daylight left, I gave in and dragged my paint bag outside in the pouring rain and stood under the porch and painted this view looking out over the marsh behind our house.  I couldn't really see what I was doing and Marc offered to get me a light but I didn't want the intrusion of the light.  I just wanted to paint, where I was and what was in front of me and listen to the rain.  It was a pleasant way to end it all and I felt a sense of completeness once I was done.  I had finally exhausted the urge to paint.  

gouache tree study

Marc's Day

So here we are, 31 days after our first day's post, our first day of painting this month, followed by another 190 paintings!  After yesterday our total number of paintings painted, minus a few wipers, is 196 paintings completed.  That's a lot of work, believe us when we say that it's all involving, and I'm personally going through withdrawals this calm Saturday morning as I sit here writing up my part of our daily post.  I think that I'll give it a few days before I write up my concluding thoughts about our month.  Suffice it to say that it's been an amazing experience to spend nearly every minute of the last 31 days with the love of my life in a daily routine of getting up, ingesting enough coffee and nourishment to make it out the door in mostly less than perfect weather, making joint decisions about how the day will go, where we'll paint, paint and then return home to photograph, edit, label, upload and write about all of the paintings and the day.  We've done it, and done it while having a great time at it.   There is a lot to sit down and look back on, to think and laugh about.  A period of time to let it all digest is required before trying to unfold and share a comprehensible closing chapter on what we've done.  I'm blessed beyond anything I could have ever imagined to be living this life, right now.

Yesterday didn't greet us with conditions like it should have, no beach sunshine and flip flops tossing sand up onto the back of our legs as we relaxingly paint, as so many people who walked up to us think that's what we do.  Nope, it treated us with almost gale force winds, rain and cold.  We had to find shelter to paint most of the day, although we started out along the marsh, the same place we started the month on Spanish Hammock, we were rained out of finishing up there so that we had to find a large enough shelter to be out of the blowing rain and wind.  We did, don't tell anyone but we snuck into an unsuccessful development along the north end of Tybee, that has a gorgeous, large gazebo... with a fireplace that we didn't use... that was big enough for us to be a little bit out of the conditions, and still see something to paint.  In the afternoon we were able to skirt around the rain (thank goodness for weather radar on the phones) and get a couple in back on Spanish Hammock.   Our view is of the marsh, a rather flat horizontal composition no matter how hard you try to find diagonals or other design features.  I was talking to Dottie about this, but I realized that painting something that simple, as far as design goes, is such a special thing to do.  We painted it a lot, but each time I gained more insight into the always changing life of the marsh.  The tidal shifts bring about one change, the sky/weather other changes.  Although the lines of composition when painting something like that are rather horizontal, it's that life that is breathing before and around you, that is so worth exploring in paint.  Below are some of my attempts.  Today I only used Ivory Black, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Lemon Yellow and Titanium White.  The day was perfect for that limited palette.

MH - 1/31/1 - It's Going To Be One
Like I mentioned, we only had about 30 minutes or so at the start of our day, before the rains showed up.  But it was worth being there to experience and paint it.  I decided to just use the palette I listed above so that if I had to paint fast, which we did, it would be a simpler matter.  The paintings are all rather thin, almost like the work I do when painting with pastels.  I like painting like this and have found something that I'll explore more in my work as I move forward.  All of the boards today were pre-toned with an acrylic Neutral Tint or Ivory Black wash.  Worked great!

MH - 1/31/2 - Wind, Rain, Palms
As the wind and rain blew in and obliterated the distance, all of the values in the subject in front of me merged, the light and dark end of the value scale were gone and only the middle ranges left.  It was fun to paint and try to get the palette to reveal the range of colors out there from blue-greens to orange-reds, and neutral grays.  It's always a surprise to see how color can be altered simply by the placement of other color around it, even with no blue.

MH -1/31/3 - Tree Shapes
I looked to my right and along one of the roads that the developer put in here for homes that were to be built, but haven't been yet, was a nice stand that made a great vertical composition.  The rain was falling, so again values were somewhat more limited than in clear light.  I thought that with the palette I was painting with that I might have trouble getting the warm and cool greens, but it worked out.  

MH- 1/31/4 - Salty View
Along Spanish Hammock again, this is a painting of the edge of the marsh, similar but looking more into it than I did in the first one with the marsh only peaking through the complicated tangle of branches and cedar foliage.  Might be a good painting to stick a heron into that is gripping onto a branch, for life!

MH 1/31/5 - Last One
Yep... sad to say this is the last painting I painted on this painting marathon of an adventure with Dottie!  The tide was coming in, the rain was too.  I loved softly brushing on the various gentle tones of color that represented the marsh grasses, broken only by the reflections of sky in the rising tide.  It was a perfect ending.

Friday, January 31, 2020

January 30, 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

Yesterday's loss of a lot of writing about some things that I wanted to chat about, sort of popped my balloon.  Hopefully, that won't happen again.  When we left the house this morning to go paint, I had decided to get back to painting with the acrylics today.  Well... It was overcast, humid and below 50ºF, about 47º this morning.  I recall reading about the temperature range that Golden Open Acrylics are okay to paint with in, on their website a while back, and decided to go back and reread that information.  Turns out that they don't form a paint film if the temperature is below 49ºF.  Aha!!!  That's why they haven't been setting up or drying for a long time... it's been too cold for them many of the days we've been painting.  With that information, I decided not to use them again today. I stuck with the oil paints.  Glad I did.  We painted most of the day at Fort Pulaski, in the middle of the recent thinning of the forest clutter and debris from recent storm damage.  It was wonderful in the middle of the jungle, a ready made cedar mulch forest floor for us because they shredded and mulched all that they cut down.  In my first two paintings, all of the light warm color of the floor of the forest is the cedar mulch, so deep in places it was hard to walk on. Smelled heavenly, and we were out of the 15-20 mph winds.

Tomorrow is our last day of this adventure.  It saddens me to think about that, but it's been a magnificent month so far.  Hopefully the lousy weather will let us bring you another half dozen interesting paintings on Saturday morning.

MH - 1/30/1 - Clearing
The morning started out chilly, windy and overcast.  By about 25 minutes into this painting, that all changed and every minute brought more sun onto us and the subjects we were painting.  I am enjoying painting palms and especially the small palmettos.  There's no shortage of them to practice on, and they're growing everywhere!  This is an oil painting, as are the other two from today.  I think that I'll leave the acrylics for another time at this point.  

MH - 1/30/2 - Slash
Slash is what the jungle now looks like in the interior of the forest surrounding Ft Pulaski.  When we started painting here earlier in the month, this looked like an area that you would Never want to be standing in the middle of.  Snakes, mosquitoes, spiders and who knows what else would come to mind.  After the park personnel's clearing work, you could have a great picnic in the middle of this area now.  As time goes on, the new growth is going to make for a great wildlife habitat, and for some great paintings! 

MH 1/30/3 - Spanish Light
The last painting of the day was painted back on Spanish Hammock, a familiar subject area for us, because we were running late and the Ft Pulaski park gate closes at 5:00pm sharp!  I loved this back lit area of typical island/southern coast growth.  I told Dottie earlier that after painting all of the complicated forest earlier in the day, I wanted to paint something simple for my last one to rest the brain and the eyes.  You can see how well that went.  Thanks for looking in.

Dottie's Day

My family always tries to participate in a 5K here in Tybee on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The money goes to a great cause and it is always a wonderful time.  Some of us run, others of us walk (I'm in the walking group)  but we all enjoy a brisk morning on the beach followed by beer and pizza and lots of laughs afterwards.  This year, I saved my bib number because of the quote on it.  Can you read it?  You may have heard it before.  It's by George Lucas and reads "You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  Put blinders on and plow right ahead."
I love that!  I also identify with it...I think that is how I have lived most of my life.  Art is no exception.  This month of painting has been no exception.  It has been one of the most amazing, fun and enlightening things I have ever done.  But it wasn't easy.  Not at all.  
Some days were cold and windy and rainy and miserable.  It was hard this month juggling and trying to find time to take care of all the other parts of life that aren't painting.  I have struggled a lot with my eyes this month and trying to figure out a way to work around their sensitivity to light.  Some days painting itself, was frustrating and hard.  When you know how you want to paint and you just can't do it... that can be so discouraging.  But despite all the frustrations, irritations and obstacles, I just kept going.  A bad day meant getting up the next day to try it all over again.  It wasn't easy but then things that are usually worth doing or trying to achieve rarely are.  
I keep my number up beside my bathroom mirror so I will see it every morning and remind myself to just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Sometimes when you don't know what to do, just the act of doing that leads to wonderful things.

DTL - 1/30/1 - Laid Back
It was nice to see the sun in the forecast again but it didn't show its head until I had started this painting.  I loved this messy tangle of trees and branches and it would have been nice to have had a much larger canvas to tackle it. I am really going to miss painting outside every day but I am not going to miss 9"x12" canvases.  This was done on a panel like the two that gave me fits yesterday.  I do love them for subjects like this though.  

DTL - 1/30/2 - The Better Half
Not far from where I painted the first one was this cedar that had lost its whole right side. It had character though.  I loved the lines of it... it looks like a hand, don't you think?  It sat amid lots of immature palms and undergrowth and had such a nice sculptural quality to it.  I once again was wishing for a bigger canvas to capture the rest of the tree.  

DTL - 1/30/3 - Three Dead Trees
Not a very imaginitive name?! lol!  But accurate!  I loved the way these three trees seemed to be dancing at the edge of the marsh.  This scene needed another hour to paint it.  It was way to complicated to attempt in what time I had before the light left it. But it was fun to try and get some of the crazy patterns of the greens.  I will definitely try this bigger in the studio when I have more time to organize the chaos of it all.   

Thursday, January 30, 2020

January 29, 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

Yesterday was our last "Mom's Day Out" of the painting month.  It has been a bit of a struggle getting her there and back and trying to paint too.  If our daylight lasted a little longer, it would be so much easier but by the time we get her picked up and home, we really just have time for one painting or if all the planets align ...two. All of that means, we have to get two done while she is at the senior center.  Sometimes that works well, sometimes it doesn't.  Yesterday, not so much.  Because she has no sense of her own time anymore, she doesn't have any sense that anyone else does either.  When we get there to pick her up, she's never ready and it always reminds me of trying to get my kids to preschool years ago.  It is a battle trying to constantly refocus and reorient her in the right direction..... get in the truck! :) This always pushes our time out, which on studio days isn't much of a problem but this month every moment counts and the loss of an extra 20 or 30 minutes can sometimes mean just one painting or a hurried second.  That was our day yesterday.  But mom was happy with her day and that is the silver lining.  

DTL - 1/29/1 - Moon River Study
The sky was beautiful and moody by the time we got out to paint.  Crazy, smoky blues, purples and yellows.  I was wishing we had all day to paint it.
The first two paintings of the day were tough.  I have been working on oil primed linen for the last week and a half and ran out of it yesterday.  So I pulled out the primed hardboard to paint on.  Evidently my brain is not as flexible as I thought!  It is amazing how you can get so used to painting on one surface in a weeks time that you completely forget how to work on another. (Mom and I may need adjoining rooms in the Alzheimers unit)  It was a struggle from the beginning. This primer takes paint so completely different than the oil primed.  It literally felt like it was just sucking the paint in and flattening it out.  Then the second layer of paint just sat on top like sticky slime.  Sounds great doesn't it? Aaaaaaugh! Marshes need to have a certain feel to them, they need to feel like grass... not a parking lot and it felt like the paint was setting up like a parking lot.  I finally got a little softness to this one but it took more time than it should and that's where the struggle with the second painting set in. 

DTL - 1/29/2 - Into The Distance
By the time I got to this painting, I only had an hour to paint before we had to leave and pick up mom.  The dramatic reflections in the water, that I set out to paint, disappeared halfway through blocking my painting in and I had to go from memory.  About 3/4 of the way through this painting, I remembered that to have any success with this hardboard in the weeks past, I had been using completely different brushes (which of course, I no longer had in my backpack) and Galkyd.  Then it all made sense... that feeling of clunkiness that I had been fighting had been from using the wrong brushes and not using medium.  As this month has progressed, I have eliminated any type of medium (other than Gamsol to wet my brush) from my paintbox.  I've enjoyed just painting simply with paint.  This surface needs medium to help make it workable.    I would have liked about another 30 minutes to work on this one, now that I figured out what I was finally doing wrong, but it was pickup time for mom.

DTL - 1/29/3 - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
After we got mom home and we ate a little lunch, it started to rain... not in the forecast but it is rare that they get the weather completely right around here.  We nixed our other painting spot in favor of the bridge and set up under it, with the truck turned sideways to block the cold wind.  Directly in front of me was a nice stand of trees against that dark sky with a great little sand path winding through the marsh.  I found a linen panel.. not oil primed but not primed with the same primer that is on the hardboard.  It sort of feels somewhere in the middle.  I enjoyed painting this one.  The colors of the grasses and trees were dark and rich in the stormy light.  About halfway through the painting, the skies began to clear, but as quickly as a bright patch of sky would appear, another gray cloud would cover it.  That is where the title comes from :). That Neil Sedaka song my mom loved when  I was a child kept running through my mind. Or, what little was left of my mind, after the day's struggle. :)

Marc's Day

Due to a computer malfunction, all of the writing on my post this morning, has disappeared. We have to go paint... First two are acrylics, last one is an oil painting.  I wrote a bunch about that, but in short I returned to using the oil paints in the afternoon, but will be taking the acrylics back out today.  Sorry for not saying more here, but after 30 minutes of writing being lost, that's all I can say about it... grrrrrrrrr!!!!

MH - 1/29/1 - Soft Flow

MH - 1/29/2 - Distant Light

MH - 1/29/3 - Moving On

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

January 28, 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

3,2,1...The count down we have left in front of us in days to go!  It's funny that all month long, and until just the last few days, nothing except where and what we will paint the next day has kept me up at night.  Now that we're winding this down in a very serious way, ALL of the things that have been set aside, besides this project, are showing up in the wee hours of the morning to agitate my thoughts and disturb sleep time.  But, there are still 3 days in which we've given ourselves the permission and gift to keep the gate closed on anything other than achieving our month long goal.  We're so close it hurts.  Hurts because I'm going to miss it.  Yesterday's paintings were a struggle for me to get off of the easel.  I'm not sure why, but I didn't feel that my head was in it, likely due to the 'other' things on the other side of the gate.  Today, as we grab our painting gear and prepare for another day of painting in the field, I plan to completely wash off what's to come and get back to being fully engaged in the task at hand.  It's just too precious of an opportunity to allow anything else to interfere with.  Can't wait to get out there this morning!

MH - 1/28/1 - Hot Dunes
Back to the beach this morning, or back to what little bit of the South End that we were able to access due to some serious beach enrichment work going on, as seen in the recent pics of the south beach area on Tybee.  I have been a naturalist my entire life, so painting things that live around me, with specific characteristics that make them what they are, right, had always been my goal as an artist in my earlier art life.  It was especially important as a bird painter/illustrator to be very specific when creating works of creatures and their environment.  These Sea Oats are gorgeous plants.  They make you want to crawl into the middle of them (bad move folks, it's illegal to do that, stay out of the Sea Oats!) to see what they're all about.  What's my point?  I'm trying to learn how to paint these things from a painter's perspective, not a botanists'.  And it's a tough thing to do when you have a botanists' mindset to deal with.  They have a fineness and grace, a delicacy to them that defies a 'big brush' approach, that is if it's the delicate nature of their spikes and leaves that you're interested in showing.  My dilemma is that I am a painter, looking for the "bigger picture", yet I'm fascinated by the fragility of this plants' nature.  I haven't figured out how to solve this yet... I'll keep trying. 

 Tybee Beach Enrichment
Tybee Beach Enrichment

MH - 1/28/2 - Pools
Sounds like this is my day for describing my frustrations... I am loving painting with the acrylics, most of the time.  As contradictory to the idea of acrylic paint as this may sound, I am wishing these things would set up faster!  It's taking me longer to paint using them because I'm having to delay my progress while waiting for them to set up, some, so I can overlay new paint.  That's a way that I paint with oils and I'm trying to do that with the acrylics too.  I may need to learn/discover new ways to work "with them", instead of making them work with me.  In this painting I painted a thin base layer of color into the water in the pools, thinking it would set up so that I could lay other darker value color of the sand that is exposed, over it.  Never happened.  I took it off of the easel to paint my third one of the day, and it was never dry enough to really paint on those passages in the way I wanted to.  Something to be learned about this medium... which is why this art life is never boring, and the learning never ending.

MH - 1/28/3 - Evening Stroll
I really enjoy painting on the beach, even though they look so different now than they did a month ago, due to the 1.000.000 plus cubic yards of sand that is being spread around the beaches.  And I like using the little figures of the ever present 'beach go'ers' that are always there as unaware models.  I only had about 30 minutes to paint this one, so it's not painted with much more than one layer of paint, very directly painted.  Thanks for looking in.

Dottie's Day

It was a very relaxed day of painting yesterday.  I'm finding as this last week progresses, I am really just enjoying the process of painting and cherishing the opportunity to be outside.  The pressure to paint a "painting" has completely disappeared.  It feels really good and occurs to me that this feeling is what it's all about.... what it is supposed to feel like all the time. 
As an artist, I always paint for myself.  If I don't feel anything about what I am painting, I can't create a good painting or usually, even finish it.  And I can't expect anyone else to feel a connection to it either.  It is a strange dichotomy, to create something that is so intimately connected with your mind, heart and soul and then hope that someone else feels a similar connection to it and wants it for their own.  And sometimes, it's hard to keep that "sales" part out of the back of your mind when you create a painting, especially when that is how you make your living.  I don't want to go outside and set up my easel or inside my studio for that matter, to create a painting that is formulaic or salable. I don't ever want that to be my intention.  That being said, it is a question I ask myself sometimes, "is what I am painting only interesting to me", "will anyone understand what I see in this", and the worst one "am I wasting time painting one painting that I should be spending painting another type of painting".  There are some subject matters that are harder to sell than others.  Being a little bit on the contrary side, those are usually the subjects I want to paint the most.  :). It is always hard to strike a balance as an artist between the soul side and the business side, I think.  And I am definitely not wealthy by any means, so maybe I am not striking a balance at all. lol! But there is also a deeper part that I think matters most.  
I think if this were an easy and profitable thing to do, everyone would be an artist.  To get to do what you love the most, all the time ... what could be better?  I hear that sentiment all the time from people stopping to talk while I am painting. But it is not easy.  It takes every ounce of concentration and focus I have. For the most part, there are a lot of other jobs that make way more money.  And that don't keep you up at night wondering if you will ever sell a painting again.  The deeper part, and the reason that I keep trying, is that painting or creating... is where my heart and soul and mind find peace.  It is the way I make sense of my world.  In some way, I have been striving to do this all of my life.  I couldn't stop, even if I wanted to.  It is a compulsion, an obsession and who I am.  There will always be something to worry about... money, family, etc.  I can't change that part.  But I can set out each and every day to do the absolute best work that I have the capacity to do, put all of my heart and soul into it and then put it out there and hope someone else feels the connection. 

DTL - 1/28/1&2 - Dune Party
I set up my paintbox in the lifeguard stand to get a better view of the dunes.  Short people have to compensate sometimes!  I loved all of the patterns of the dune grass and the way all of the dunes were individual but flowed into each other in such a way it looked like they were having a conversation ... or a party :)
I used the longer diptych format for this one because I wanted the space to put as much of what I saw down as I could.  I was really wishing for a 24" x 48" canvas instead of 9"x24" but that's for another day.

DTL - 1/28/3 - Ebb Tide
As Marc mentioned, our beach is being renourished.  The tides haven't had time to level out the sand so at low tide, you can really see the division of old and new sand. I liked the pattern of the water left on the beach at ebb tide and the erosion of sand at it its edge. The light was so warm and yellow yesterday that the sand on the flats was almost orange, especially up against the blue/green water.  I felt like more of a geologist than a painter trying to get all the sand color and formations down :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January 27, 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

We had a little rain to start the day with, which meant good clouds in the morning.  Actually, we had crazy good clouds all day.  It was "Moms Day Out", so we packed her up, delivered her and headed out to the marsh to paint.  This part of the marsh is right off of the highway, but it's amazing how the sound of cars and trucks disappear when you are absorbed in your painting.  The whole world is whittled down to just what is in front of you in the moment. It is meditation, although a very active meditation, with thousands of observations and decisions rolling through your mind as you absorb what you see.  It is exhausting and exhilarating, emotional and calming, alert and focused and peaceful, all at the same time.  Addicting.

DTL - 1/27/1 - Monday Colors
The sun was in and out and the sky was so dramatic looking west.  I love the wide open spaces when the skies are exciting. Deep dark purples, corals, yellows, greens and blues... and that was only in the sky!  The marsh was lit up a beautiful golden by the low hanging sun.  This was such a joyful little painting to paint.  After the more muted hues of the last few days, the chance to put some real color on the canvas was a nice change.  

DTL - 1/27/2 - Serendipity
I had a chance to paint one more before we had to pick up mom.  I turned about 45 degrees to my right and decided to paint the water while it was still high in the creek.  The strong darks of the morning clouds had given way to soft lavenders, pinks and yellows but the sky was still that bright blue that you always see here in the winter.  It's as if God knows you need a little more bright blue in the sky to get you through the winter months.  Although the sky was clear to the north, the sun was hidden behind clouds for most of the second painting.  The marsh was darker and a little flatter in color which really gave the water and the sky the attention they deserved.  

DTL - 1/27/3,4
In the afternoon we headed back to a stretch of marsh overlooking the shipping channel.  Below you can see a ship coming through while I was painting.  It always looks like they are sitting right on the marsh.  Their massive size never fails to amaze me, even after a whole life of seeing them.   I love the long low horizontals of all of the islands you can see from this perspective.  It called for a more horizontal canvas than 9x12 so I put two together to try and get that feel.  The sun was out when we started but before I could get my block in done, it had gone behind the ever increasing clouds.   In cloudy conditions, the colors of all of the bands of different marsh grasses really stand out... greens, reds, oranges, golds, even this really lovely one that is almost a magenta color.  That combined with the stretches of sand dunes was so interesting to paint.  

Marc's Day

As I committed to last week, this was another day out with the acrylics.  We had 80% humidity yesterday, even though it was a beauty  of a day after the early morning rains stopped.  I'm learning a lot about these acrylics.  When it's hot, dry and windy, they're gonna set up FAST!  When the temperature and dew point are nearly identical (means moisture of some sort is in the air), they almost NEVER dry!  Those are the extremes, somewhere in between lies the place where these paints, the Golden Open Acrylics, satisfy all of my painter and painterly needs.  I painted the diptych in the morning when it was the most humid and almost became frustrated when the paint wouldn't set up enough for me to overpaint areas and build up contrast in softer passages, as I had planned to do.  I had to sit down and take a break to let the paint begin to firm up before any of it could be painted over.  Took me longer than it should have to finally put it into the dry box, by then it was time to move on.  Because of the morning, I decided to take out the Utrecht Heavy Body acrylics, fast drying type.  By the time we started painting the atmosphere had dried up, the winds had picked up, and the Utrechts about did me in.  They dried so fast I couldn't even blink before they did.  We were at Ft Pulaski, a few hundred yards from my truck, where the delicious Golden Opens were laying nestled in the 'big tub of mess'... art supplies... just waiting for another chance.  I sauntered over in that direction, deciding to take a short cut through a little boggy area.  That went well until I was walking on top of floating grass hummocks and one foot missed!  Walked back with the Golden's tucked warmly under my arm and repainted the scene I had started, a much more gratifying experience than I had with the faster drying Utrechts. They're fine paints, just not for me outside.  I need some time, they don't give you more than a few seconds in those conditions. I'll be sticking with the Golden's outside... moral of the story.

MH - 1/27/1&2 - Marsh Shadows
We love to paint this ox-bow on this little creek on McQueen's Island.  At high tide it's full of water, at low tide it's usually flanked by at least a couple of locals crabbing or fishing.  I centered the water passage in order to create the depth to pull the eye in, and then let the spread of the marsh take over and show the distance of the place.  I thought about placing the water off to one side or the other, but I liked this idea better.  

MH - 1/27/3 - Moving Shadows
My titles are getting less than very original.  However, in my defense, all day long the sky was tossing shadows around the horizontal of the land masses we visited.  While painting this one, we went from a beautiful, colorful, broken sky that was creating lot's of warmth on the landmass, to a completely socked in sky, the landmass nothing but dull grays. Then the sun broke through and gave me an idea.  I created the entire foreground shadow by over painting all that I had already painted into a cooler grayed down version of the local color (thank you acrylics), and then placed the sun breaking through, that was gone by now, to the right of the composition, highlighting the marsh, the beach, distant shore and could above.  I also had to create the foreground because where we were painting was on a cut trail, with a grassy edge.  In the painting I eliminated that, brought all of the foreground to the bottom of the image and created the little cut of a stream or mud path, or whatever, as a path into the middle ground.  Thanks for looking in.  

Monday, January 27, 2020

January 26, 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're less than a week away from this incredible adventure we've been on, coming to a close.  There's still a little over a dozen paintings for us to each paint in the next 5 days, but, and I know this is true for Dottie too, I'm really beginning to feel like I'm about to lose a glorious way to live each day.  Being outside all day, sunrise to sunset, being tuned into nature's patterns, mostly wondering what that will be, every single day is breath giving!  I feel so aware of my facilities as a painter, those technical and physical aspects of being a painter that if not kept in shape by the exercise that painting from life is, have the probability of becoming stagnant.  Painting outside throws it all at you, weather, bugs, your own emotional and physical state, good and bad.  In our case we chose a place(s) to paint each day, hoping that we'll find our ideas/inspiration/motivation for creating something that is unlike what we've done before.  Each day we get to a point of simply being wiped out. A full day of standing up at an easel in the wind/sun/rain/bugs... takes a toll on you.  But we paint on.  Sometimes the most glorious feelings of the day are when we arrive first thing in the morning, then the difficulties of painting, the reasons not everyone is or can be a painter, arise and we push through them, followed by the end of the day when we sometimes say "Let's just capture the end of the day over the marsh!".  So we set up and revel in what is in front of us, the glory of the sky is always in top form, we paint it and the simplicity of the marsh spread out before us.  That's a beautiful ending, one that we have to find a way to continue as part of our day, even post A New Year, Two Views.  Expect to see some large, 2ft to 4ft size canvases from us, painted from life, in the future.  We've talked a lot about our desire to do that more, this little painting month has us realizing that we must do that!  We've given our selves this gift, lasting a month, but will be with us for the rest of our lives.  As special a time as we've had and are having, I'm so grateful that we decided to allow ourselves this special time together.

Thanks for following us along.   

MH - 1/26/1 - Roots
I chose a close up of a large tree root base that had drifted up onto the mud and grass edge of the beach at Pulaski.  These are all acrylics again, and will be from here on out.  This gave me some fits until I stopped trying to paint all of the grass growing along this edge, and got back to painting shapes and patterns.  It is beautiful grass, but it can't be successfully painted unless you find it's major patterned shapes and design.  This one took me WAY too long.  When I did finally approach it in a way that expressed the idea I had in the first place, I ended up with a piece that I am happy about. The spread of that root end of the tree trunk had a life, reaching out like a hand for a grip on the land that it originated from, but that through some act of nature in it's past, had been ripped away from before being sent on a watery voyage before landing here again.  

MH - 1/26/2 - Dark Into Light
After spending so much time on the Roots piece above, I decided I had shake loose my painting muscles, do something that was more about big shapes and paint with a broad approach.  I turned away from where I was looking and saw this treeline in it's back lit darkness, fronted by all of the palms, deadfall and other growth in front of it, holding sparkles of color and value.  That's all I needed, so I painted it rather quickly.  This is on a slightly coarser linen panel, acrylic primed, than I've been using.  It seemed to work even better for me than the others do.  It holds moisture in the depressions of the linen, holding the paint in a workable state longer.

MH - 1/26/3 - Scarlet Band
This was our end of the day painting spot, just outside the gate at Fort Pulaski.  There were skies to be painted in every direction around us last night.  A storm was moving across the marsh to the south, creating this scarlet band of light at the horizon that I tried to get into the painting before it all changed.  

Dottie's Day

This month is like a countdown now.  Only 7 more days to paint, then 6 and now 5.  I have done 30 day painting challenges before, I think 7 of them.  I've done a still life everyday for a month.  I've done a medium to large painting everyday for a month. I've done the Strada challenge, doing one painting outside everyday for a month.  And I've blogged about them.  But I can honestly say I have never done anything like we have done this month.  It has been life changing as a painter.  But what has been really interesting is that in years past doing month long challenges, by mid month I was starting to dread every day.  It became work and more about just sticking with it than getting something out of it.  And I did learn a lot from those experiences. But this month, this has been consuming, exhausting, frustrating, invigorating and just so much fun.  At the end of each day I am spent, mentally, emotionally and physically.  And I can't wait to get up the next morning and do it all over again.

DTL - 1/26/1 - Windward
I really tried for a loose, simpler painting that just said what I was thinking and feeling about this.  Nothing more.  I tend to get caught up in rendering instead of painting sometimes.  I come at it initially with a big idea and then somewhere toward the middle, I fall in love with the details.  It was nice to enjoy just putting the paint down in this one and letting it be.  

DTL 1/26/2 - Secluded Beach
For the second painting, my goal was to get out of the wind and find something to paint.  I wandered around and found some palms to paint and set up my easel.  Then as it is bound to do, the wind shifted.  Suddenly I was in almost a whirlwind effect and I was struggling to get paint down and make sure my stuff wasn't blowing away.  I decided to scrape it off and move somewhere else.  I set up a second time in a little more sheltered area and started again.  But frustration set in as the wind whipped the palms and I kept trying to nail down my composition.  By this time my neck and shoulders were so stiff from bracing myself against the wind, that I was miserable.  So I scraped it down for a second time and moved again.  I have learned this month,  that it is better for me to start over than to push through and try to force a painting that isn't working for whatever reason.  This time I set up in the sun, in an area that had little wind, got a fresh panel and just worked on broad simple shapes and the light that was hitting the beach in the distance.  

DTL - 1/26/3 - Sunburst
I was hoping for a crazy, colorful dramatic sunset when we set up to paint.  Once again, I got a beautiful sunset but it was a quiet one.  The sun peeking out from behind the clouds was blinding at times but I wanted to capture the sunburst effect that I was seeing.  Sunsets are hard to paint en plein air.  The light and the color change so fast, especially in the winter when it happens so much more quickly.  You have to make a quick decision and just go with it.  If I were in the studio painting what I saw, there are a lot of things about this that I would adjust to have a more finely developed painting.  But out here, I don't have the luxury of a lot of time, I only have the luxury of the moment.  Seeing it in all it's glory and putting down how it makes me feel.