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.
We stayed on island today. We don't ever venture far from Tybee so for us to stay here shouldn't seem like a big deal but it felt like it. We are getting to be such homebodies. :)
I paid bills early this morning while we were having coffee... which you should NEVER do before you go out to paint! As an artist, you do your best work but it's always a gamble and never a guarantee. So as always, thoughts were swirling around in my head of going to work at McDonalds or answering phones at an office, or doing any such job that has a weekly paycheck and benefits as I was unpacking my paint bag and setting up my easel. I was sure that it was going to be a rough morning and I had set myself up to have a bad day. And then I looked out over the sand at the ocean. I picked up my paintbrush and all my panicky thoughts were swept away by the salt breeze.
DTL - 1/7/1 - Luminous
It was another blue sky day and I thought it would be a lovely morning to paint on the beach, since the blue sky gives the sand shadows such a nice blue cast. The dune grass is dormant right now with a lot of really rich darks. It's a great contrast between those and the lights of the sand and the sky. This felt so airy and light and happy to me this morning. As if anything were possible.
DTL - 1/7/2 - The Ascent
I backed up about 10 steps and painted the tall dune in front of me. You could just barely make out the ocean beyond. I loved all the lit pathways through the grass and the strong darks in the thick dune grass. I wanted to give you the feeling like you were standing in the middle of it all.
DTL - 1/7/3 - Confetti Clouds
We were starving and headed to our favorite taco place on Tybee ..Chamacos Tacos and had lunch. Painting makes you hungry, tacos make you happy. Especially when it is Taco Tuesday and they are a dollar cheaper. Really nice big clouds had blown in and we headed to the marsh to paint them. Of course, as painting luck will have it, the wind picked up and they blew away halfway into our painting session. I revised my painting about 10 times and finally settled on all the little wispy cloud fragments fluttering down toward the marsh. Or at least that's what it seemed like they were doing.
DTL - 1/7/4 - Distant Island
After being windblown, we headed back to the beach to paint. The sun was just starting to get low and the light was giving everything that beautiful glow. The wind died down and the sun was warm and it was perfect. Until. The gnats flew in. There is always that little window of warm, still air that gnats love to take advantage of. Luckily for me, they preferred my painting and at one point there must have been 50 or more stuck to it. In fact, I painted the clouds around the gnats. A gnat cloud pattern. They quickly suffocate in the paint so I was able to use my brush to flick them off before I finished. And of course, the wind picked up once I started packing up my paint stuff and the gnats went with it.
I love Dottie's details from today! Means that I'll spend my time tonight talking about the four different paintings that I did today. Before I do that though, I will second that staying on Tybee today did make it a very fine day. We do love where we live and we feel it the most when we have to leave. I'm new to this entire coast, other than having spent quite a few years showing my work in Charleston, SC and spending a little time around that city and area, and a couple of trips to Jacksonville, FL to teach in years past. The geography of this shoreline, the marshes, barrier islands, and it's rivers, is so complex that it would take living an entire lifetime here to really come to understand it. Dottie gave me a book for Christmas, that I just started reading tonight, called Tybee Island 'The Long Branch of the South". I'm only a short way into it, but am already even more fascinated to find out more about my new home than before. The island's history has always kept it a uniquely different place than the surrounding islands like Hilton Head, St. Mary's, Ossabaw, Cumberland, Jekyll, and others. Post Spanish, English and the Revolutionary war, it was developed to provide a place for 'common' citizens of the area to come to recreate, relax and even live. The other islands in the area were owned by wealthy business, or other, magnates and were established as private sanctuaries for the rich and or famous to escape to, or to use as plantation properties. So our Island has always had, and still has, a character about it that is very grounded, for the common people, which makes us, covered in paint daily, wearing painting clothes that could easily pin us as homeless people, feel very comfortable. That's why staying here to paint feels so good, feels like home.
MH - 1/7/1 High Light
I'll be honest, these dunes are complicated stuff. Painting them is sort of like painting snow drifts in the midwest. Except that it's warmer both in local color, and in local weather. To complicate that, when the wind is clipping right along and the sand is pelting you and filling your eyes, brushes, paintings, shoes and anything else that is with you, with itself, you begin to feel like maybe a snow drift wouldn't be so bad. Ahhh... but then you hear the crash of waves coming on shore, the deep pitched, raucous call of gulls above you, the scent of the ocean's salt water, and you realize that you couldn't be anywhere much better, so you paint on. I am posting a photo below to show how in one hour the blowing sand can fill up your equipment. I painted this piece this morning wanting to emphasize the sweep of the low trail through the dunes. It's used by lifeguards, beach patrols and others, so it's usually tracked up by vehicles. That added a nice compositional line/movement element to the scene. Hardest thing to do painting these dunes, and it's in 3 of the pieces I painted today, is deciding how to handle the sea oats and the long stems that are iconic to the plant. I will be painting them for some years to come before I know how to do that.
MH - 1/7/2 Later Light
This is the second painting of the morning. It's the same view that I painted in the painting above, but I took a wider, more distant view of the scene. Reason is that in the first painting I felt that I became to involved in the closeness of the vegetation, and all of the detail that entails, to really say what I felt about the view, that being the pattern of the vegetation against the sand shape. By doing this, I was able to simplify the shapes a lot more, yet still retain the nature of it all, I hope.
MH - 1/7/3 Wind Blown
We left the beach for the third painting of the day, fueled by our favorite tacos in town at Chamaco's Tacos. While we were eating lunch, the sky filled up with clouds moving through, which we thought would be great to paint over the marsh... out of the wind. I made a brilliant suggestion to go out to the end of Spanish Hammock where we know we get a great wide, broad view of the marsh and sky. Turned out that the spot we were headed to, and did paint from, was right in line, full force, with the incoming cold front and it's wind, that was bringing us the beautiful clouds. We withstood, anchored down the equipment, and painted away. I love painting when it's a little adverse, compared to painting a boring blue bird, no wind day. But this was more than I can appreciate. Still, it was exciting to paint such a fast moving sky and all of the shapes that were passing by.
MH - 1/7/4 Beautiful Ending
The fourth painting today was back on North Beach, near one of our favorite restaurants, The North Beach Bar and Grill, at one of our favorite beach access points. It was out of the wind, mostly. I'm being honest again... I think that I'm pretty decent at seeing color and getting it down as it is, with a little modifying if need be. When I painted this, and while sitting here with it in front of me while I type, I have to question my assumption about my skills. I know that I painted what I saw, the relationships as they were. But for the life of me, I cannot understand how so much of the spectrum can be present in one scene, painting! Even more honestly, I don't like mixing colors that are so saturated and complimentary to each other, even if they're correct. But I did, this is what I think I saw this afternoon, even if I'd prefer a gray day and some atmospheric recession, this is reality here. I think that I could be okay with it if I had a beach chair, a beer and fishing pole to enjoy it with, instead of my oil paints!