Back in the Swamp Land

Whenever I come home for an extended period of time, I am always struck by the humidity. The air in Pougnadorresse France is dry. It is filled with the smell of lavender and sage and it feels like a baked fig leaf in the afternoon sun. This creates a different type of light that makes painting a challenging jigsaw puzzle with sharp shadows of a landscape set up like a still life on a table with a big naked bulb shining down from above. My region of South Carolina is the opposite of that dessert. I'm an hour from the coast and yet not coastal. The land is less sandy more rich, the trees are old and moss covered. There is an atmosphere which literally hangs about like a gauzy shawl, even in Winter, the rain mixes with the dew, covering the landscape with a mist that softens the trees into the horizon. This is what I've been painting this year and last. I'm preparing a group of paintings of a landmark called The Black River. This river winds through my region like a big lazy viper, disappearing for miles at a time beneath the dyed brown swampy bogs just to reappear again as a tentacle of current, suddenly cutting through high bluffs. A symphony of earth tones, mist and haze. The river brims with bass, catfish, gar and turtles as well as nasty aquatic vipers and ridge backed reptiles. I find myself daily positioned on some bank, be it bluff or bog, trying to depict this subject which is neither crisp nor sharp edged but as shrouded as a corpse and as nebulous as a puff of tobacco smoke and as dark brown as the trickle of chaw at the edge of a fisherman's grin.