Low Country Caravan

I got to bop around Charleston, SC for six weeks this past winter. It takes time to learn an area, scout for motifs around which one might build a picture or two. I happened upon this scene a week or so after hitting town. It not only was a nice view of the marshland, but also offered a place to park my truck and set up my gear.


For a fella used to the winters and springs of Ohio and various other northern locales, finding greenery and temperatures like this on the first days of March was a delight. My intention for the trip was to work large, but I figured I'd warm up to that with a 16x20" canvas.

Sometimes I do a monochrome underpainting for these things, but here I decided to try for the final effect immediately. Here's Day One:


I've done fairly successful one-session pictures before, but generally I'm a better re-painter than I am a painter. For Day One, it's enough to cover the canvas and try to put the correct shapes exactly where they belong, trying to get everything right. If correct value, hue and chroma are not secured that first session, it's not the end of the world. But slipshod drawing needs to be fixed immediately.

The paint is opaque and fairly thick. Once it began to set, after a few hours, I scraped it down with a palette knife. This leaves drawing and color intact, but removes any buildup of paint.


For the second day, I tried to punch up the values, a lot. Looking back, too much. If Day One was too bland, Day Two was too stark. That's okay, you move back and forth on this stuff till you get it the way you want it.


Day Three. The darks are brought back under control. This was almost what I was after, but not quite. That curving line which moves from the edge of the grass on the right and slopes down to the left corner was like a slide, carrying the customer's eye to the one place I don't want it to go: out of the picture.


So I grabbed a bush from outside the picture and transported it to the lower left corner of the picture, where it stands blocks the eye's retreat from the picture, like a prison guard. And a little more refined drawing was given to some scraggly branches in the center bush. My first Charleston picture in the can.