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.
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 story...it'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...it 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 breeze....it'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.
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.