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Weather report

By Carolyn Males

Large stretches of serpentine marshes or open sea with big panoramas of sky and clouds have inspired many a local artist. Other times, it’s outdoor activities or encounters with wildlife that provide the creative spark. We asked 10 artists to give us their personal takes on weather along this edge of the Atlantic coast.


Rhett Thurman

Oil on board (Red Piano Art Gallery)

For 52 years I have called Charleston home, but I will always be from Gramling, South Carolina — Peach County! One of my cherished childhood paintings is a pastel of a rolling peach orchard in full bloom against the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. One whiff of a fresh peach, and I am there. Peach season meant automatic summer jobs, cute guys and crazy hours until the last fresh peach of the day was canned or packed. This “Peach Season” was born of the light, the hustle, the bustle and the aroma of the local farmers market on a Saturday morning with a delicious taste at the ready, a delicious place in my heart.


Sonja Griffin Evans

Acrylic on canvas (Red Piano Art Gallery)

On Sundays during the summer, my mom and uncle took me, my little brother and my cousins to Hunting Island State Park’s beach. We would spend all day playing in the sand, collecting sea shells, climbing the lighthouse stairs and wading in the water. Looking back, we didn’t have a care in the world. Now as an adult, I find a Gullah beach day is an opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the mesmerizing landscape and leave my cares down by the water, watching them drift away in the sunset.

Fair skies

Clay Rogers

Oil on canvas (Endangered Arts)

Running has been a part of my daily exercise routine since I was fifteen. Weather permitting, the beach is one of my favorite places on Hilton Head Island. The sand is easier on my joints, and nature provides just the right amount of distraction. Whether sitting on the rocks, floating over the breaking waves or diving for fish, pelicans always provide a source of entertainment and artistic inspiration.

Big Waves

Tom Jordan

Oil on canvas (Camellia Art Gallery)

Having grown up in California, I spent many a day surfing. You quickly learn the weather conditions (things above the surface –– the things you can see) lead to the wave’s strength. These determine the size and velocity of the swell. But it’s the local conditions of the sea floor that influence the formation of every swell. When these circumstances converge — the breeze, the smell, the sounds and the ocean spray from the crashing waves — it creates the magic of which I never tire. When I paint seascapes, I want to capture everything that’s happening below the surface as well as what you can see above.


Susan McCarthy

Oil on canvas (Atelier on Bay)

Why is fog so intriguing? To me it represents the unknown, the mysterious and the possibility of surprise. Some years ago I began to explore the idea of fog in paintings –– sometimes extreme mystery and sometimes subtle thought-provoking representation. One painting might have little exposed to reveal the story and other times more exposed and more revealing. Anyone who has seen my work knows that what is unseen is as important as what you can see. The older I get, the more I want to introduce mystery. A painting should encourage contemplation, not just recognition. I always want to engage the person looking for insight into their own mind and thoughts.


Marc Hanson

Oil on canvas (Camellia Art)

Scud: Loose, vapory clouds driven swiftly by the wind. I have a personal dislike that would surprise most normal people. I don’t like clear blue skies when I head out to paint en plein air. There is nothing like the rush of an oncoming cold front in the middle of an overheated July to get this outdoor painter’s blood bubbling. The collision of hot and cold air masses in the atmosphere create a visually demanding, airborne turmoil that fills me with an eagerness to experience the drama with brushes and paints, unlike a “beach sky” day ever will.

After the Hurricane

Ben Ham

Photograph (Ben Ham Gallery)

I occasionally come across trees of such unusual shape that the only explanation must have been a duel with the force of a major hurricane. As I parked, donned my rubber boots, grabbed my gear and fought my way through the foliage to the edge of the marsh, the skies were just starting to lighten up enough to see. The fog was thick and, best of all, there was no wind, a real gift. As I reached the edge of the marsh, the tide was much higher than I could have hoped for. Here they were altogether, the three elements so elusive. — Adapted from Vanishing Light by Ben Ham


Mark Larkin

Welded and painted steel (Malarkey Art Studio Gallery)

Why Thunderstorms are like Funk Drum Solos. James Brown always said it’s about “The One” and he was right. The “One” refers to the count of One, Two, Three, Four, emphasis on the one. Thunderstorms always start on the one boom, and the clouds build up on the rest of the count for the next “one.” Then comes the crashing cymbal, lightning, which accents the boom. The syncopates are the rhythmic pauses between the kick, snare and ride of the storm. Dynamic volume polishes a good solo, and Mother Nature has that in cumulus clouds like any good funk drummer. Huh!


Margaret Crawford

Acrylic on canvas (Pluff Mudd Art)

Here on Hilton Head the storms over the marsh and ocean are pretty spectacular. I love sitting in a protected area and watching a storm rolling in or even sitting outside during a soft summer rain that brings such a fresh and cleansing smell afterward. In this painting I hoped to capture the movement of the storm coming in over the marsh with the swirling clouds and the flight of the fleeing birds. Interest was added by using a limited palette.

Seasonal Weather

Betsy Chaffin

Acrylic, Oil, and Oil Stick (jcostello gallery)

I live on the river and am in constant contact with the quality of light, of the atmosphere, the weather and the rhythm of the changing tides, days and seasons. My inspiration comes from nature, and the work serves as a metaphor for my response to place and to memory. Making art has been an evolving journey. The process is just as important as the product. Paintings get painted over and then painted over again. Many times it is only in reflection that I understand the nuance of what the work is about. For me, it offers an internal glimpse.


Timeless by Kendra Natter

Hallowed Ground

in storms
the tall pines fall, giant toothpicks crisscrossing a spit of sand once yards into the sound dolphins and shrimp boats slip past the buoy marker to the May River mouth dense marsh grasses fill the vista south sand shoved over it, shrinking in raucous high tides that swallow and swallow push back and back until Pine Island and his ashes disappear
— Elizabeth Robin