Storm over the Salt Marsh

Storm over the Salt Marsh

“Storm over the Salt Marsh”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Storm over the Salt Marsh”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

The captivating odor of salty air, hot sun on warm cedars and pines, and the rich tang of pluff mud.

That’s the scent of the Lowcountry.

A land full of water…creeks, rivers, inlets, sounds, and of course, the sea.

The wide open spaces of the salt marshes are the perfect meeting of the drama of the sky, and the light across water and grasses.

A late afternoon storm was blowing in with clouds blocking the last of the sun, leaving ribbons of light on the water.

Watching a storm roll in over that big an expanse, whether it’s the marsh or the ocean, is a reminder of how big nature is, and how truly small humans are in the grand scheme of things.

Golden Fall, Botany Bay

Golden Fall, Botany Bay

“Golden Fall, Botany Bay”, oil, 6 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Golden Fall, Botany Bay”, oil, 6 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

The golden fall light paints the marshes of Botany Bay with rich color beyond the usual green.

Fall takes its time arriving in the Lowcountry, but the gold and haze are characteristic. Heat and lower angled light.

Botany Bay is a state heritage/wildlife management site on Edisto Island, protected and open to the public.

The “Boneyard Beach”, where the trees killed by advancing salt water have fallen, is dramatic and the main attraction for most visitors.

But my favorite sections are the pine and oak woods on the edges of the old fields, and wide open marshes.

Spanish Hammock, Tybee Island

Spanish Hammock, Tybee Island

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Spanish Hammock, Tybee”, oil, 4 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

Racing clouds cast strong patterns of light and shadows across both Spanish Hammock and the distant marsh on Tybee Island. But it was the clouds themselves I found most fascinating.

All that big movement that comes in the sky just before a storm blows in.

The only thing more fascinating to watch than a storm brewing over the marsh is one over the ocean. Saving that for a painting coming up!

Dawn Light, Edisto

Dawn Light, Edisto

“Dawn Light, Edisto”, oil, 8 x 10”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Dawn Light, Edisto”, oil, 8 x 10”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

I love the pre-dawn early morning light.

I’ve stayed in a house right on Scott Creek on Edisto Island several times in October, right during some of the most beautiful weather we have here.

Watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee on the porch is one of the real treats of being there.

Just before the sun comes up the light is all blue and dark. Then that first streak appears.

Fave moment of the day.

And that blue says fall to me.

That rich cobalt blue that happens between October and March, filling both the water and the sky with the taste of blueberries

The color of a flock of bluebirds rising from a fall field, the salty smell of the sea.

Morning on the Creek, Tybee

Morning on the Creek, Tybee

“Morning on the Creek”, oil, 5 x 7”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Morning on the Creek, Tybee”, oil, 6 x 6”, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

A quiet backwater creek at high tide on Tybee Island in early morning light.

Time on the Sea Islands, whether you’re on Edisto in SC, Tybee or St. Simons in GA, is measured by the rise and fall of the tides.

The ocean breathes in and the tide goes out leaving mud flats that pop and click with teeming life.

The ocean breathes out and the water comes rushing back in, covering the flats. The water moving through the tops of the marsh grass creating flickering light that captures all the colors of the sky.

Sitting and watching the change of tides is one of the most peaceful things I know of. Is there anything similar you like to watch??

Edisto, Dunes at Sunrise

Edisto, Dunes at Sunrise

“Dunes at Sunrise”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Edisto, Dunes at Sunrise”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

As the sun popped up over the Atlantic, the fall morning light filtering through the clouds painted the dunes in the full array of color. 

I took the photo that inspired the composition back last October on Edisto Beach, early in the morning, but actually started the painting during a demo during a free workshop back in April.

Something kept tweaking me to work on it some more. Once I added in the sprawling vines covering the tops of the dune the composition felt right.

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