Lately I’ve been painting the South Carolina Lowcountry.
What does Lowcountry mean?The Lowcountry (also known as the Low Country) is an area along the South Carolina coast that has a culture, geography, architecture, economy and even cuisine of their own
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Do you paint or make things that reflect the area where you live? I am originally from the mountains of East Tennessee. I moved to the South Carolina coast when I was thirteen years old, but have only recently been painting the South Carolina Lowcountry.
There are many reasons why I didn’t paint the things that were in my immediate environment sooner than I did, and why I never painted on canvas. However, I am so glad to be where I am now. Maybe my story can inspire you to recognize the artist in you sooner than I have.
Artistic Pursuits Were Not Valued as a Career in My Family
Although my mother was great at drawing, her favorite activity was sewing. In her early life, she made most of her own clothes, and sewed matching dresses for me and my older sister for special occasions and holidays. If she were alive right now, I would love to ask her about her talent for drawing why she didn’t use it more often. Her family was filled with talented people who used their gifts in practical, everyday ways. The men in her family could make or build anything, and the women sewed and took the ceramic classes that were popular in the 1970s. However, no one considered a career in fine art as viable.
My paternal grandmother was a fabulous quilter. You can see in the picture at the far left that she hand sewed and pieced the applique on each square, embellished each design with embroidery, then hand quilted all the layers together. She sold her quilts for several hundred dollars each in the 1970s and 1980s. However, I don’t think she would have ever viewed selling her “art’ in the same way as an artist like me who paints and sells their work. In her mind, painting and drawing were time-wasters with no real value. In spite of my family’s denial of the importance of art and creativity, the items made by the women in my family were the things that everyone fought over after they were gone.
My First Painting Class
I took my first painting class in 1987. My mother-in-law and I took an acrylic painting class when “country style” was at its peak. If you’ve seen tumblers in the thrift stores with geese and bears on them, you’re looking at the country style of the 1980s and early 1990s. We painted bears and geese, and a gingerbread family on thick blocks of wood.
The Craft Shows of the 1990s and 2000s
When I made things for craft shows in the late 1990s and 2000s, I always painted practical things like mailboxes, flower pots, watering cans, and keyholders. I also did custom work for people-like murals, furniture, wall borders, signs, and etc. It never occured to me that someone would buy an item I painted just because they liked the way it looked or they wanted to hang it in their home.
Love My Little Cottage Blog was Born in 2016
For the next several decades, I raised and homeschooled my five children. In 2016, my youngest child turned ten, and I suddenly had extra time on my hands. So, I began the Love My Little Cottage Blog. I went through stages of writing about vintage items, dishware, lifestyle/homeschooling, decor, and crafts before I ever went back to painting. This is what I reasoned in my mind:
- If I start painting and selling things again, I will have to paint the same designs over and over again as people buy my products.
- I hate custom orders.
- Tutorials are a pain to write.
- There are other people who are so much better at painting than I am.
- I don’t want to limit myself and my blog to just painting.
When I finally decided to paint again, I painted useful, seasonal items and wrote tutorials for the blog. I was careful to mix painting posts in with decor, wreath tutorials, and tablescapes.
Covid Inspired Me to Focus on Painting
When covid hit in 2020, we were stuck at home for a while. I began to paint more. I opened an Etsy shop that spring. I also added a paintbrush to the Love My Little Cottage logo. I was finally ready to focus on painting. The first item I sold on Etsy was a watering can with wildflowers and a bee. I added other painted items similar to what I sold in craft shows decades ago. It was exciting, but I was still painting the same things over and over again.
Moving on to Two Dimensional Surfaces
While teaching a few online art classes during the shutdown, I became brave enough to try two dimensional painting. I wasn’t ready to try canvas yet, so I painted on small birch wood boards and wrote tutorials to go with my designs.
Stepping into Canvas and Lowcountry Scenes
Around a year and a half ago, I began Zooming with an artist friend. She encouraged me to paint on gallery wrapped canvas. Gallery wrapped canvas is 1.5 inches thick. If you paint the edges, it is ready to hang without a frame. This was a big step for me. Messing around on wood was fine, but professional canvas was expensive. Buying costly painting surfaces might require a commitment to being a REAL artist.
I painted a few South Carolina scenes, but stayed away from anything coastal. These were my reasons:
- Seaside painters are cliche.
- Only tourists want that type of stuff.
- There are many people painting the South Carolina coast that have way more talent than I do.
- I wasn’t born here.
- What if I get pigeonholed?
Now I am Finally painting the South Carolina Lowcountry
I continually ignored people who suggested I paint something from my beautiful surroundings until I recently began a manic painting spree. Painting everyday led me right back to the place I live. Now I am enjoying taking pictures of the South Carolina coast and painting them on canvas. The Lowcountry is filled with live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, salt marshes, blue herons, turtles, seashells, coastal landscapes, and so much more! Why did it take me so long to see it?
Although at one time familiarity did breed contempt, I am ready to embrace myself as an artist and where I live as the most beautiful place on earth.
I hope you enjoyed reading Painting the South Carolina Lowcountry!
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