Lowcountry Plein Air Paintings Part 1

Plein air painting of dawn in a Marsh in the Lowcountry, South Carolina.

Dawn on the Marsh. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

Here are the paintings from my second week of painting in South Carolina. These are also for my show with Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston on the 27th of May.

The paintings were done en plein air on a farm an hour south of Charleston on the Toogoodoo Creek, outside the town of Hollywood, SC. I didn’t leave the farm for a week as I find I can get much more work done if I’m not scouting over great distances. When I start driving and looking for views I find way too much to paint, and can never settle on something.

Plein air painting of a creek off of the Toogoodoo.

Creek Study. 14 x 11 in., oil on linen.

Plein air landscape painting of mist rising on a farm in South Carolina.

Mist, Ashe Farm. 8 x 12 in,. oil on linen.

Plein air painting of dawn on the Toogoodoo Creek.

Toogoodoo Dawn. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

The Lowcountry is flat and either marsh or live oak and pine forests. The get a ton of water here so the oaks get massive and are really beautiful subjects for paintings.

Large painting of an abandoned oak alley in South Carolina.

The Old Oak Alley. 31 x 39 in., oil on linen.

I worked on larger plein air pieces as I had a fair amount of time on location. The weather was also wonderfully stable for most of the trip.

Plein air landscape painting of large oak trees on a farm in South Carolina's Lowcountry.

The Cathedral. 35 x 43 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of large oak trees.

Study for The Cathedral. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of a large oak tree.

Large Oak Study. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of Elliot's Point on the Toogoodoo.

From Elliot’s Point. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of burning stumps on a farm.

Burning Stumps. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of burning stumps on a farm.

Burning Stumps #2. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of afternoon shadows on a lowcountry creek in South Carolina.

Afternoon Shadows. 35 x 43 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of twilight on the Toogoodoo Creek, Hollywood, South Carolina.

Toogoodoo Twilight. 21 x 27 in., oil on linen.

Charleston, South Carolina Paintings

Plein air painting of Queen Street in Charleston, SC.

Queen Street, Sunday Morning. 12 x 8 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of morning sun from the Battery in Charleston, SC

Morning Light from the Battery. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

I’m currently in Charleston, South Carolina painting for my exhibition on the 27th at Ann Long Fine Art. Here are some of the paintings from the first week.

Plein air landscape painting of Broad Street in Charleston SC.

After the Rain, Broad Street. 12 x 8 in., oil on linen.

Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. The food is great and the people are all very friendly. It’s a great place to visit and to paint.

Plein air landscape painting of White Point Gardens in Charleston, SC.

White Point Gardens. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of Broad Street, Charleston SC.

Broad Street. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

Many of the streets down where I’m working run close to east to west. Combined with the position of the sun this time of year, the north-facing shadows barely change length for the greater part of the day. Which means I have much longer to work on any north-facing subject.

Plein air painting of a garden in Charleston, SC

Garden in Charleston. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air landscape painting of a sidewalk in Charleston SC.

Sidewalk, Meeting Street. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of Longitude Lane in Charleston, SC.

Longitude Lane. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

The weather has been great, very Californian with the cool breeze and warm sun. It has been windy though so many of my paintings are on smaller linen-on-panel boards.

Oil painting of Tina taking a break in the afternoon.

Afternoon Break. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of the evening light in Charleston, SC.

Evening Light. 12 x 8 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of the palm trees on Church Street in Charleston, SC.

Church Street Palms. 12 x 8 in., oil on linen.

I have some larger work still in progress and I’ll update when they’re finished. I’m off to the countryside this morning to paint more of the Lowcountry.

Carthage, North Carolina Workshop

I was teaching a workshop with Oak Hollow Studios in Carthage, North Carolina this week. The class went well, and the weather cooperated, thankfully. Spring workshops can always be a bit risky.

Here are a few of the paintings I did during my free time:

Plein air painting of a canoe by a pond in Carthage, NC

Canoe, Backlit. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of a backlit canoe in Carthage, NC.

Canoe Backlit #2. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

It was very, very green. March and April are months I often skip working outside as the bright greens of Spring can be a bit much. Small vignettes can work well though. And sometimes it’s just fun to really hit those acid greens.

Plein air painting of chickens.

Carmen’s Chickens #1. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of chickens in Carthage, NC.

Carmen’s Chickens #2. 8 x 11 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of a father fishing with his son on a pond.

Paul Fishing with Nat. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of a porch at night.

Porch Nocturne. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Californian Plein Air Paintings

Plein air painting of sycamore and lupine in Toro State Park, Salinas.

Sycamore and Lupine, Toro State Park. 11 x 14 in, oil on linen.

Here are some recent paintings from the Central Coast of California. I’ve been painting regularly in the area since I first started plein air landscape painting in the early 1990s while studying art at UCSC. I say this every year but it’s always great to come back.

It’s the tail end of an El Niño year, which sometimes results in spectacular wildflower blooms, but unfortunately there wasn’t much of a show this Spring. So we painted a lot on the beaches.

Plein air oil painting of watercolorists on a beach in Marina, California Central Coast.

Watercoloring, Marina Dunes State Beach. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

Plein air painting of the dunes at Carmel Beach.

Carmel Beach. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

Plein air painting of a patio in Carmel Valley, CA

Patio. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

I spent a week down in Big Sur doing a large commissioned landscape as well.

Plein air landscape of the Big Sur Coast.

The Temple, Big Sur. 35 x 43 in, oil on linen.

It was difficult doing a painting that large on site as the wind really picks up around midday. You can see the working situation on the last day in the short time lapse video below:

I was wearing really grippy approach shoes which helped a lot. It was about a ten foot drop off the rock where I was painting and it can be difficult to concentrate on painting and not slipping. I’ve switched to approach shoes in general for landscape painting as I find I’m often working or scouting in spots where slipping is a real risk. Here I was wearing La Sportiva TX2s which are a great minimalist/onebag/ultralight shoe with a very sticky grip.

Here are a couple of smaller pieces from the same spot.

Plein air painting of the Big Sur coast in the evening light.

The Temple, Big Sur, Evening Light. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

Plein air landscape painting of the Big Sur Coast.

The Temple, Big Sur, Midday Light. 11 x 14 in, oil on linen.

Time Lapse of a Studio Landscape

Here is a short, two minute, time lapse video of a large studio landscape I painted over the last couple of weeks. After buying a ton of winter gear for plein air snowscapes we’ve had a really warm, snow-free winter, and I’ve had colds and flu for two months and been stuck inside the whole time. On the bright side, I did manage to get a lot of studio work finished.

This painting was enlarged from a plein air sketch I originally did on Diaz Beach at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa two years ago. I also did a number of drawings to design the composition and I had photographs that I used for information in the areas which my sketch didn’t cover. Even though I had thought out the composition that I wanted with drawings, as you can see in the video I often make changes after I get started as it is easier to see what works and what doesn’t on the large canvas.

I’ve added some annotations in the video to explain some of my decisions while working and I explain some compositional rules. I feel it’s important to reiterate that, while I believe it’s important to understand rules in painting, often the paintings that we remember -the ones that really stay with us for a long time- are precisely the ones which break those rules.

That said, the compositional error of having major elements all the same size is something I do feel hurts a lot of paintings, some of mine included. It is something artists should be aware of.

Landscape painting in oils of Diaz Beach at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa by Marc Dalessio

Diaz Beach, the Cape of Good Hope. 120 x 150 cm, oil on linen.