isle of palms | part three | painting & sketching

by | Jun 7, 2021 | Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting, sketches, Travel, Watercolors | 36 comments

Our trip to Isle of Palms in May was primarily about visiting with family and celebrating my parent’s 50th anniversary (51st now since it had to be postponed for a year), but it was also our first vacation in a long time, so I wanted to take intentional time to do things that were restful and restorative.  Being at the beach and gathering shells were a part of that, but so was painting and sketching.  Not only are those endeavors relaxing, but they help me really pay attention, be observant, be present, and appreciate the beauty around me.  So, I made a commitment that I would paint or sketch every day, even if it was just a quick pencil sketch while sitting at the beach.  And I stuck to that, even doing some quick landscape sketches in the car ride.

I also wanted to work on watercolor sketches and drawing moving scenes and subjects from life.  Those are out of my comfort zone when I’m more comfortable painting from pictures in my studio (or still life vignettes that don’t move) and I get impatient with watercolor.  But, I was able to work on both!  In addition to watercolor and pencil sketches in my sketchbook, I did several oil paintings when we sat out on the covered porch in the afternoons.  The weather was absolutely perfect, so sitting outside was delightful.

travel sketchbook | Isle of Palms | miss mustard seed

I planned on painting the beach a lot, but we didn’t have very many interesting clouds over the ocean.  Most of the clouds seemed to be over the mainland, meaning the view of the ocean was pretty uninteresting to paint.  Blue sky, blue ocean, surf, and sand.  So, I ended up painting and sketching the side view of the beach to get the people and umbrellas, as well as the houses just behind the dunes.  There was one white house that I was particularly fond of.

travel journal | Isle of Palms | miss mustard seed

I even braved sketching a woman sitting in a chair, reading a book.  I loved how her sunhat was blowing in the wind and how the light fell on her.  I did take a few pictures in case she moved and it was fortunate that I did because she was up and in the water after just a few minutes.  It’s definitely not a perfect sketch, but it was a good exercise and I am looking forward to revisiting this scene in oils.

travel journal | Isle of Palms | miss mustard seed

I tried to focus on capturing a specific mood and not every perfect detail.  Looking at the sketchbooks of well-known and well-respected artists has helped me loosen up when it comes to using my own sketchbook as a learning tool.  It’s supposed to be filled with experimentation, practice, mistakes, bad ideas, and good ideas.  If you can’t let loose and try something in your sketchbook where can you try it?

travel journal | Isle of Palms | miss mustard seed

travel journal | Isle of Palms | miss mustard seed

Sketching on the beach consisted of holding my sketchbook on my lap while I sat in a beach chair under the umbrella.  When using watercolors, I would precariously balance a jelly jar filled with water on my armrest.  (After being so careful with it, it accidentally spilled on my mom once when I bumped it with my elbow!)

On the covered porch, I would set up my pochade box for painting with oils.  I’ve only used it a few other times, but it’s a great little travel studio that isn’t crazy expensive.  (THIS is the one I use.)  It can be mounted on a tripod, but I would just work at the table.

These are a few of the pieces I painted in oils…

This one is based on a picture I took when we were shelling one morning…

original oil painting | isle of palms | miss mustard seed

I love painting the houses in Charleston.  I did a couple of little studies to test it out and then worked on an 8 x 10 once I felt like I would do an okay job at them…

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

Angles are such an interesting thing, especially when you’re working on architecture.  I would feel like a line would be tilted in one direction only to hold up my brush and realize it was slanted in the opposite direction.  I don’t know how/why our brains do that, but it can be surprisingly challenging to get all of the angles right.  I had to do a lot of checking and correcting.

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

I loved this painting, though.  It took me several hours and I had to leave it, eat dinner, and come back to finish it, but it was worth all of the time.  I learned so much and I love the finished painting.  I can’t wait to paint more.

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

My mom took a picture of me while I was using my apron to shade the finished painting to share it on Instagram!

original oil painting | miss mustard seed

We did have a few times when there were awesome clouds over the ocean, so I did do some beach/cloud paintings based on the pictures I took…

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

This was one of my first oil paintings of the trip and it was a struggle!  It’s interesting how being out of my normal painting place (my studio) sort of threw me off!

original oil painting | Charleston, SC | miss mustard seed

I have a lot more photos to paint (I took some pictures down at the marina, too) and I plan to put them all together in my next sale.  In addition to painting the beach, ocean, boats, and houses, I’m working on some still-life paintings of the shells I collected.  I have had so much fun painting the oyster shells so far.  I love that they are a little abstract.

original oil painting | oyster shell | miss mustard seed

original oil painting | oyster shell | miss mustard seed

I’m balancing working on this collection for the next sale with paintings for commercial clients and private commissions, so I’m not sure when it will launch, yet, but I will let you know!  I like to have a good number of paintings available in the hopes that more people can get one they are excited about.

original oil painting | oyster shells and beach | miss mustard seed

I loved gathering new inspiration and stepping out of what’s comfortable.  It made the trip even richer.

You can find other posts about our trip to Isle of Palms HERE.

36 Comments

  1. Babs

    Oh, Marian…I can’t thank you enough for all the inspiration you have given to many people. You may not even realize how inspired we are by your excitement and enthusiasm. It is so easy to fall into a rut and not be inspired by much of anything…so thank you for coming along and pulling us out.

    I am a struggling watercolor student who enjoys your perspective on things in general and art in particular. I do plan on working on oils as I had done in the past and I am inspired by your work.

    You make everything more fun.

    Reply
  2. Christie

    Thanks for sharing your art journey! When I try to sketch/draw at the beach (as a novice), I always end up getting sunscreen oil on the paper ha!

    Your sketches and paintings turned out beautifully! Would love to see more pics of your sketches, they are inspiring to see, and give me ideas of how to use my own sketchbook. Many artists only share their final perfect paintings, but I feel like sketchbooks really give insight into how to see the world as an artist if that makes sense 🙂

    Anyways thanks for taking us along on your trip and your art journey! Looks like a fun time!!

    Reply
  3. Margaret

    It amazes me how hard it is to draw what’s actually in front of one, as opposed to what we think it looks like. Back in the 1980s I found the then-popular book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain quite helpful. I could almost feel the click as my brain switched over.
    I especially like the oyster shell paintings.

    Reply
    • Kim

      Yes, that is such a fantastic book. I was never able to draw people until I read that.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Yes, that is an awesome book!

        Reply
  4. Kelly Westman

    Marian,

    I am thrilled you were able to paint in Charleston. We vacationed years ago at Seabrook. A half hour from Charleston. My kids remember the beach. It was fun that it was different than their Florida experience.

    How long does it take for your oils to dry? Did you have to think about that to take them home on the plane. How do you pack them? I know they need to breathe. Just curious.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It takes a few days for an oil painting to dry, so I have a wet panel carrier that will hold them for transport.

      Reply
      • Suzette

        These paintings are wonderful! Maybe because I’m from SC an live an hour away from Charleston.
        You did a great job on all of them, but I love the houses!!!
        Glad you had a wonderful time!

        Reply
  5. Janet

    I sure hope to be able to purchase a picture from your next art sale. It has been difficult to navigate. We were in Charleston for our 35th wedding anniversary and have so many fond memories.
    A painting, especially from you, would be so wonderful.

    Reply
  6. jinny spencer

    Love your clouds!

    Reply
  7. monique odman

    All your landscapes and skies are so great, each very well done, movements, colors and composition. I am less fond of the house facades though. Never mind, I like that you got the will and the inspiration where ever you go to, and know how to paint with oil and water colors.

    Reply
  8. Julia

    Marian what a fantastic body of work achieved in a short time. Love your enthusiasm and I’m excited to start my own creative journey very soon.

    Reply
  9. Sandi Graham

    As a landscape artist, I love detail and sketches in landscapes. In a landscape there will be less detail of the distant houses . Atmospheric perspective. You have come a long way baby!
    Plein air is always fun painting! Your videos on slip covers helped me immensely. I’m a long time antique collector of furniture and all things old . I have followed you for years. You are such an inspiration. Really love all you do. My only claim to fame is National and International juried pastel shows . You do it all girl. I’m sure your mother is your greatest fan! All my best. I am and I’m probably the age of your mom.

    Reply
    • Kim

      You are correct. Mom

      Reply
  10. marylisa

    really lovely setting! i’ve never heard of this area so i would love to visit. your art looks amazing

    Reply
    • Jody K

      You could also paint a tiny little beach scene INSIDE an Oyster shell to set on a table or shelf!

      Reply
  11. Nicole

    Hi, The houses you painted. That one house is #12 that has held many memories for my family for 15 years. Is there anyway I can buy it from you? Sooner than later? I think my husband would be shocked if we gave that to him for Father’s day.

    Plus, I know it’s silly but I just know it has to be ours. I need that hanging in my house with other works from South Carolina.

    Reply
  12. Peg McCormick

    I am so inspired by your travels and thank you for the time you’ve given to bring us along with you! I am getting ready to paint while traveling for the first time – the flint hills of Kansas. I am wondering if you prepped your panels ahead of time with the oil underpainting or if you did them while you were on the trip and gave them time to dry some before painting more. Just wondering if you have tips on that?

    Reply
  13. Brenda

    I am particularly fond of the painting you did of the storm out to sea. I have a decided preference for your seaside paintings and it occurred to me that I rarely see a painting featuring that element. Perhaps you’ll decide to reproduce that particular work for purchase!🤞🏻

    Reply
  14. Cheri

    My last day with grandkids today means I start this week with art endeavors! Thank you for all the inspiration my friend’

    Reply
  15. Teddee Grace

    It must be so fun to be able to do this!

    Reply
  16. Karen

    The one from the picture you took while shelling is stunning!
    Great work, Marian!

    Reply
  17. Kathy

    Will you be selling these? I would love to purchase one!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      yes, all of them will be for sale and I’ll be painting more to add to the collection.

      Reply
  18. Emily Lynn Downey

    Marian, I love seeing how this trip has inspired you! Your paintings are beautiful and those brushstrokes are so fun – I can see the movement of the air and waves just looking at them. You did a fabulous job capturing the woman in the hat as well.
    I’m heading to the Georgia coast in a few weeks and am definitely planning to have some time for art and creating in a new space!

    Reply
  19. Pat

    Fir days now in St. Louis the clouds have been amazing! I call them “ artist’s clouds” when the look so complex to paint! And I think of you when I see them like that!

    Reply
  20. Patricia P McCorkle

    I believe I see the shadow of your husband ‘s ( or photographers ) head in the painting of you sitting on the beach ! Either that , or you’ve put in that shadow on your hat because you are a painting pro!

    Reply
  21. Martha Bradford

    Delightful and inspiring as ever. A bit off topic… could you tell me about the dark blue smock you are wearing? Thank you!
    Martha

    Reply
  22. Karen B.

    Marian,
    I love your paintings, watercolor, and oil. Such beautiful subject matter too. Oh, how I wish I could paint.
    It’s always fun to see what you’ve found to inspire you.
    Karen

    Reply
  23. Wendy

    Greetings from Australia. Where do find the time. I find juggling housework chores, playing golf leaves very little time to paint. I try to
    Catch up as much as possible. It’s good when my husband is out for the day – I can concentrate on my painting- I don’t stop all day for meals/ morning and afternoon tea are out. But wouldn’t swap him for the worlds.

    Reply
  24. Krista

    Every painting is so beautiful! What talent you have!

    Reply
  25. Lorraine Oh

    Love how you depicted the light in the picture you took when you were shelling one morning! That is a very special painting.

    Reply
  26. Debra Ponte

    I’d like to get a grip on the ART Drawing/Sketching and Watercolors? Dates and Eastern Standard time? Thanks.debra

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re asking…

      Reply
  27. Tanya Esposito

    These are absolutely amazing and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so inspired by your work.

    Reply
  28. Carolyn L Dietrich

    I love your paintings. I love the one of the woman on the beach. I can’t draw or paint and I think what you do is wonderful. I really enjoy your blog and how you decorate and love reading it. I’m glad you blog often!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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