Shem Creek is a colorful place. Most of my visits to Shem Creek are late in the day, when the sun has swung around to the west, lighting up the boats and creating strong, colorful reflections in the water.
It is a deep tidal creek in which shrimp, crabs, fish and shellfish thrive. For decades dozens of shrimp boats lined both sides of the harbor. Now only a few shrimp boats continue to work and dock creekside.
The maritime painter in me loves to see the shrimp boats lining the docks. They represent a big part of the Lowcountry culture, and the remaining shrimpers are holding onto a tradition that is in danger of disappearing. What a shame that would be!
I’ve wanted to paint Shem Creek since the first day I saw it. I haven’t painted a maritime painting in quite awhile, so I thought my first one back should be of Shem Creek. The Jamie Lynn boat’s rigging was recently painted a fresh coat of red for the annual Blessing of the Fleet Parade this spring.
In my painting, entitled The Many Colors of Shem Creek, the Jamie Lynn is hit by strong sunlight, casting a strong reflection in the water. The bright red rigging stands out against the darkening blue sky. Geechie Girl is the green shrimp boat in the distance, along with Winds of Fortune of which you can only spot its orange-ish rigging rising up from behind the Jamie Lynn. Several colorful sailboats line the docks to the right.
Some of the background buildings also add color to the overall composition. A big part of Shem Creek are the businesses that line the docks. A number of them are restaurants, serving fresh local seafood. Geechie Seafood sells fresh shrimp right off the dock, as does Mount Pleasant Seafood. Kayaks and paddleboards can be rented from Coastal Expeditions. The dockside bars are very popular, providing the best views in town, attracting people from all around.
In my painting, I worked to put in as much detail as I could, in order to record everything I saw that day. I didn’t want to leave anything out.
What you don’t see in this painting are the Brown Pelicans flying by, the dolphins swimming back and forth, the kayakers paddling, or the motorboats continually arriving and departing. It is a happening place.
Shem Creek is also one of the best birding locations around. I love to photograph the Brown Pelicans that follow the shrimp boats and the chartered fishing boats back to the dock with their catch. There are Kingfishers, Great White Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis and other birds that frequent the marshlands around the boardwalk and docks.
As you can tell, I love Shem Creek. I hope it shows through in my painting. I plan on painting many more scenes of Shem Creek over the years. Even though this 11” by 14” painting was time consuming I enjoyed every minute of it.
Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art! Please check back soon to read about what’s next on the easel.