Arts Council ExhibitsIsland Living

Local Artist Sheryl Stalnaker leads Plein Air Workshop

Saturday brought a flurry of artistic energy as local artist Sheryl Stalnaker led her students and interested residents in a plein air painting class.
Stalnaker, who displays her work at The Martin Gallery, first came to Dewees Island a few years ago for a tour with a church group.

Sheryl’s first visit to Dewees in 2014. She says, “I  first visited Dewees as part of a women’s outing with St. Andrews Church. It was a gray, drizzly day, but we all had a fantastic time and enjoyed the peacefulness of the island. I returned with my family and another family for spring break that same year in 2014. I took my painting supplies on that trip and got up early several mornings and went out to paint on location. “

As she says in her artists statement on her website, she is drawn to wild places.

“My landscape paintings are inspired by the unspoiled places, which can be hard to find. I am mesmerized by interesting cloud formations, the light hitting a wave, or colors reflecting. I immerse myself in the landscape, gathering artistic inspiration while boating to remote areas, kayaking, surfing, or hiking in the mountains. I strive to pull the viewer into  participation with the scene, such as feeling the tranquility of a still morning or the rolling of waves in the sea. My still life and other low country scenes incorporate texture and light to make the paintings have energy and visual  interest.” 

There is a Dr. Seuss quote I like from his book Oh The Places You’ll Go that says, “It’s opener there in the wide open air.” That is the feeling I had on Dewees. I knew it would be a great place to hold an outdoor painting workshop with the added adventure of taking the ferry to the island and driving around in golf carts! There are fewer and fewer unspoiled landscapes in this area. 


So on Saturday morning, some of her regular students joined our artists group for some instruction in painting outside. Topics covered included how to gather reference material on location, how to simplify and zero in on a painting subject en plein air, and how to capture the essence of a scene quickly before the light changes or the rain moves in.

Island artist Kathy Warren lauded it as one of the best Plein air workshops she ever attended, and many others were equally enthusiastic in their praise.

Mother/daughter group Ann Sweeney and Sonya Demmler from Columbia were enjoying their first visit to Dewees, as were Chris Richardson from Sullivans Island and April Auerbach from the Isle of Palms.  Emily Painter, a senior in high school who is a home schooling student of Sheryl’s, enjoyed “Dewees’ pretty scenery”.

Susan Mashman, another island resident who had had her own art shows on Dewees, called the workshop “really inspiring. I’ve never worked in oils, and I am excited to try a new medium.” Esther Piazza Doyle, an island resident who exhibits both on Dewees and galleries in NC and Charleston’s Spencer Gallery, also had a great day outside.

As you can see, they had a perfect day for it:


The Dewees Island Arts council provides a wide variety of art shows, classes and field trips. We’re looking forward to more from this artist.

Our family stayed on Dewees the night before the Saturday workshop. We took the golf cart out towards Capers Inlet near sundown during a full moon high tide. I took the most wonderful photos of the landscape. Stay tuned for more paintings of Dewees!(to learn more about Sheryl, check out her website.)