New Moon - New Year 2009

This is the view I had from my back porch tonight New Year's Eve 2008. It's a beautiful crescent new moon with Venus (the planetary star) seen in the evening sky over the SC state tree, the Palmetto - a scene beloved by many South Carolinians including me.

There's a lot going on, so I 'm posting this "fine art photograph" in lieu of a painting tonight.

There are several exciting art events coming up in January and February. Check back soon for details about new artwork and shows in 2009, including the Magnolia Winter Festival which will include two separate art exhibits and plein air painting at the Plantation's house and grounds.

Thanks for viewing my blog this year and I wish you all the best in 2009.

Christmas Lights -Creative Holiday "Art Installations"

I enjoyed doing a little "extra research" for my painting in progress of Christmas Lights on Shem Creek" by visiting the amazing holiday art installation in the yard of Santa's twin, Eddie Brown.

Every Christmas, Eddie and his wife Nancy brighten the town of Mt. Pleasant with their creative display of holiday lights at their home.
This week, I was one of the many visitors who was inspired by the Brown's warm holiday spirit and decorations.Thanks for the candy cane, Nancy and Eddie!

Merry Christmas to y'all and everyone else who brightens the holidays with festive lights for all to enjoy.

Christmas Lights on Shem Creek in the Charleston Lowcountry

For years the docks at Shem Creek have been the best place in town to get local seafood - fresh off the boats.

Shem Creek remains a popular place to eat seafood and watch the boats come in, although these days the boats are more often pleasure craft than working trawlers.

At Christmas, many boat owners decorate their boats with holiday lights for the annual "Parade of Lights" in Charleston Harbor.

I'll post my painting of the sparkling lights reflecting in the dark waters of Shem Creek soon.

What a classic Lowcountry Christmas scene.

"Christmas Lights on Shem Creek"
Pastel on grey sanded panel

"Spicy Christmas Treats" A Pastel Painting by Charleston Artist Katherine M Schneider

Have you ever smelled an orange studded with dried cloves? The wonderful, spicy fragrance is a favorite at Christmastime.

In Colonial days, the clove studded fruit was allowed to dry out and then used in linen presses as a fragrant pomander the rest of the year.

In my painting "Spicy Christmas Treats", I used the directional lines of the cloves to add interest and variety to the composition.

The oranges in the painting will add a fresh fragrance to my home and studio throughout the holiday. I've also found that they make much appreciated gifts.

If you have the time, try making one. Pierce an orange with an ice pick or other sharp object to get through the rind, then push in a piece of dried clove. The more cloves you use, the more fragrant the pomander. Enjoy!

"Spicy Christmas Treats"
Pastel on paper
Painting dimensions: 8" x 10"
Framed dimensions: 11.5"x 13.5"
Price: $250.00

Charleston Christmas Lights Brighten the Night and the Season

The annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony took place in Marion Square tonight to the delight of children of all ages.

Countless Christmas trees of all shapes and descriptions shone in the night at Marion Square.

Christmas trees decorated by children from many of the Charleston area schools lined the paths in the park.

The glow from the Christmas lights can be seen all the way to the North Pole and beyond.

A walk into the "Christmas Tree of Lights" was a popular spot for picture taking and "twirling".

The effect of being surrounded by hundreds of bright Christmas lights is not to be missed.

Spinning in circles inside the lights was a dizzying delight for many visitors under the tree tonight.

It's a great start to the Christmas Season in Charleston for young and old..
Merry Christmas!

COPA Plein Air Painters at Angel Oak

COPA (The Charleston Outdoor Painters Association) painted on location at Angel Oak today. The artists withstood bombardment by falling acorns in windy and damp weather to paint en plein air at this ancient tree.

The subject proved especially challenging in the morning's frequently changing light conditions. During breaks from painting, the painters enjoyed sharing plein air tips and helpful critiques on the works in progress.

Karen Silvestro's use of warm and cool colors added depth and color harmony to her painting.

Ryoko Miller started her painting with large abstract forms which she refined into a more detailed artistic statement of the tree.

Lisa Willits,
worked fast laying in her composition quickly with a warm tone on a linen panel.

Teri Bastian used a grid on her canvas to develop her composition.

Visitors to Angel Oak added appreciative remarks as they watched the artists creating unique paintings "en plein air" of the majestic live oak.

Kay Schneider's painting of this misty morning at Angel Oak.

Robert Genn sums up the feelings of many plein air painters -
"I used to hate painting outdoors. I became confused and the results were generally sub-standard. When I started treating plein air as a minor event with lower expectations I began to better understand my motivation and to pick up on the spirit. A curiously satisfying activity."

Painting surfaces and supports - How to build a better painting

I've been preparing canvases and painting panels this week getting ready to create new paintings for several upcoming shows. I hope today's post about the preparation of painting surfaces will be helpful for the students in a high school art class whom I've been told read this blog.

The quality of a painting and it's ability to withstand environmental damage depends in large part on the materials used under the surface layers of oil paint.

For smaller paintings and plein air works, I prefer the strength of wood. A painting on a properly prepared wooden surface will last indefinitely. Since the 6th century BC, wood panels have been used as painting surfaces. The major drawback to using wood as a support is it's ability to hold moisture. Modern plywood panels eliminate many of the problems of warping and cracking associated with older wood panels. (Canvas on a wood panel is also good.) Any wood panel over 16"x 20" should be cradled (reinforced) on the back to prevent warping. Applying gesso to the sides and back of the panel will also reduce warping.

First, sand the panel to remove imperfections.

Next, apply a good quality gesso. I use the Gamblin or Utreck brands because they are both highly pigmented. More pigment in the ground reduces the dulling effect on oil paint and seals the support (wood or canvas) from chemical and environmental deterioration.

Allow the gesso to dry. Apply at least 2 to 3 coats of gesso , sanding between each layer. This ensures the gesso has coated and sealed the painting support making a stable foundation for the layers of paint and varnish in the final painting.

I like to paint on a toned surface. Here I'm applying a warm burnt sienna undertone to the panting support. Using an undertone layer of paint reduces the absorbency of the surface and can be used in many ways to enhance the final painting.

I use a warm toned surface for my plein air paintings and landscapes. The warm tone enriches the cool blues and greens found in nature. Notice the warm undertone showing in the "etched" lines of the path, bench, and grass.

For portrait painting, a cool green-gray undertone works well to complement warm skin tones in the finished painting.

Whether working on wood panels or canvas, it's good practice to apply at least 3 coats of gesso, a layer of oil ground (if desired for oils on a rigid surface), and a thin undertone to build a strong foundation for a painting that will last many years.
"Autumn Gold Marsh"
Oil on canvas panel

Face to Face with Art at the Coastal Carolina Fair Youth Art Show 2008

Face to face with art.
A brightly painted face was seen enjoying the brightly colored paintings at the Coastal Carolina Fair Youth Art Show.

Wesley King (lf to rt) and his cousin Arianna sported festive face paint as they picked out their favorite artwork during the last night of the 2008 Youth Art Show.

Justin Disher, Christopher Martin, and Taylor Childress (lt to rt) came to see the painting

"Four Way Still Life" by their friend Pinewood Preparatory School artist Samantha Freedman.

Lori Zinger- show attendant answers questions about the artwork for visitors. With over 600 entries in this years show, Lori was helpful finding artwork for the many visitors to the Show.

The Youth Art Show is a wonderful opportunity for local art teachers and student artists to exhibit their talents to a large audience. Last year the attendance at the Coastal Carolina Fair was over 200,000 visitors.

Bright lights and high spirits shine at the end of the 2008 Coastal Carolina Fair.

Coastal Carolina Fair - Youth Art Show 2008

Beyond these doors of the Fine Arts Building at the Coastal Carolina Fair hangs the 2008 Youth Art Show. Each year the Exchange Club of Charleston sponsors an exhibition of artwork at the Coastal Carolina Fair by student artists from Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties.

This year (2008), the Youth Art Show includes nearly 600 artworks showcasing a wide variety of styles and media. The artwork is displayed in groups by age from 6 to 18 yrs. old.

The Exchange Club's Judges present numerous ribbons and awards which are highly prized by their young recipients.
For the past 13 yrs. my husband and I have had the pleasure of sponsoring an award at this Youth Art Show to recognize outstanding talent as well as to encourage the further growth and development of promising young artists.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2008 SCHNEIDER ART AWARDS:

Joey Dixon - Chas. County School of the Arts
Richard Heywood - R.B. Stall High School
Meghan Kindy - Wando High School
Kim Mansfield - Goose Creek High School
Alfie Ming - Alston Middle School
Issey Till - Rollings Middle School of the Arts
To see all of the 2008 Youth Art Show Award winners CLICK HERE.

Come on out to the Exchange Club's Coastal Carolina Fair and while you're there be sure to go by and see all the exciting, creative artwork at this year's 2008 Youth Art Show.

For more information about the 2008 Coastal Carolina Fair including a map, scheduled events and entertainment visit

Plein Air Painting Equipment and Supplies I Use to "Paint Charleston Daily"

It's always interesting to see the equipment plein air artists use to paint on location. This past weekend at the Oil Painters of America "SC Paint Out" at Poplar Grove, artists working in oil, pastel, acrylics and watercolor were seen using field easels made by "Open Box M ", "EASyL", and "Soltek" along with traditional French easels and customized painting set-ups.

I've been asked what supplies I use for plein air painting around the Lowcountry. My painting set up is well suited for painting out of the back of my car or at locations accessible with a rolling cart. For overseas travel, workshops, backpacking or remote painting locations a more streamlined system would be needed, such as the "Open Box M" easel and accessories.

I like the versatility of the "Stanrite" Standard light weight aluminum folding easel. It's designed with a cross brace which I use for my palette and has flip down spikes on each leg to anchor the easel in the ground on windy days.

I've customized the easel with 2 plastic brush holders attached to the front legs. I keep clean brushes on the left and wet brushes on the right. I hang a plastic shopping bag over one of the brush holders to stash my dirty paint rags and trash as I paint. I use Gamblin "Gamsol" orderless mineral spirits in a glass baby food jar on the palette to thin paint and clean the brushes.

Brushes are stored in a round, plastic tube case. (I've also seen one "custom" made out of a cut PVC plumbing pipe with a cap at ea. end.)

Common butcher paper serves as a disposable palette in a Masterson plastic palette case. The sealed lid allows paint to be set out on the palette before going on location (saves time) and later stored in the freezer to keep it workable for several days (saves money).

I paint on birch wood panels I prepare with either canvas or Gamblin Gesso. Sometimes I like to use cradled wood panels which I also sand and gesso. I've found panels are better than stretched canvas on location because they block sunlight coming through the back of the painting surface.
I prefer to stand when I paint but often bring a folding chair if I'll be painting all day.

The following is a list of things I pack in a folding pull cart which was bought at a boating supply store:
Spare paint tubes in a plastic shoebox, extra brushes and palette knife, orderless mineral spirits, masking tape, waterless hand cleaner (orange pumice type), paper towels, a view finder, mirror (to check values and composition), bug spray/ mosquito repelling device, sunblock cream, ground tarp, hat, plastic bags for trash, bottled water, and cell phone.

Do other plein air painters out there have painting tips and tricks to share? All comments are greatly appreciated. Happy Painting!

"Marsh at Flood Tide" A Painting by Charleston Artist Katherine M. Schneider

In the Fall, the full moon often causes unusually high tides in the Lowcountry. I spent the afternoon today painting this tidal effect by former rice fields now turned back into marshes.

A beautiful full moon flood tide lasted for much of the afternoon, making my attempt to capture this marsh scene easier than last time.

The painting began with a toned canvas panel on which I sketched the composition with burnt sienna oil paint.

Once I had completed this stage, I quickly painted in medium values of warm and cool local colors.

I completed the painting by adding highlights in the marsh grass and working on the reflections in the water of the foreground.

"Rice Fields at Flood Tide"
Oil on canvas panel
Dimensions: 11" x 14"
Sold Thank you.