Carolina Lighthouses - Trotter Arts Field Trips

Our Bucket List of Carolina Lighthouse Field Trips (north to south) : Currituck Beach (NC), Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, Cape Lookout, Oak Island, Old Baldy, Georgetown (SC), Cape Romain, Sullivan’s Island, Morris Island, Hunting Island and Harbor Town. Thirteen unique locations, each with its own story to tell. Our hope is that we can capture a quality photograph of each one to add to our Lighthouse gallery. So far we’ve seen 9 of 13. Some require ferry rides and hiking. They also require some planning to get to and we’ve logged about 2,000 miles this summer. Some are still active: Currituck, Bodie, Hatteras, Lookout, Sullivan’s, Hunting and Harbor Town. All have their unique and interesting history.

Below are some of our photographs. These are works in progress and our aim is to get the best ones edited, printed and added to our gallery for our September shows. Several will require a return field trip. Some days the lighting or weather just doesn’t cooperate with the lens! Its all part of the adventure! As Forrest Gump may have said; Fieldtrips are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get! Enjoy what we have so far!

Field Trip - Cape Romain National WIldlife Refuge

Many thanks to Coastal Expeditions who provided a sunrise trip to Bull’s Island and a day trip to the Cape Romain lighthouses! Both of these locations are within the protected boundries of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Truly a South Carolina gem and only one of three Class I Wilderness Areas in the United States. Both great field trips!

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The Bull’s Island sunrise excursion requires an early start, 4:15 am on the dock! Don’t be a minute late because the sun and the captain will wait for no man! This wonderful excursion includes a ferry ride, a trailer ride across the island and a good walk up Bull’s Island’s boneyard beach. We enjoyed about an hour and a half of photographing and the breaking of a new day. It seemed like every few steps on the beach required you to stop and admire the creation! Below are a couple of pre-dawn photographs from the boneyard beach.

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On our second excursion we visited the Cape Romain lighthouses constructed in 1827 and 1857. We enjoyed the ferry ride to Lighthouse Island and the shallow wade from the boat to shore as there is no dock. It was a pleasure to experience a presentation from Mr. Tommy Graham who has personal knowledge and the history of the Lighthouses. Tommy’s presence on the excursion made the trip much more interesting and we hope that the restoration efforts are successful. Below are a few photographs.

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Interesting fact(s): Looking directly from North to South, the windows in the lighthouse align and you can see thru the lighthouse windows! The paint scheme of the lighthouse serves as a day marker. And yes, the lighthouse is leaning towards the south.

We love field trips, but now the work begins……. Will we find a shot or two that we want to add to the Trotter Arts Gallery? I’m pretty sure that we have some great shots among the 4,000 images!

Keep watching our online store/gallery for new pieces from Trotter Arts. We would love to work with you on the perfect piece for your home or office. We’re beginning to print for three shows in September, now would be an excellent time to get a custom piece printed!

Stay tuned……. I wonder where the next field trips will lead us!

Chasing Rosey - Part 3

After chasing Roseate Spoonbills all Spring, we finally created three pieces for our last show and they were received well. They became quite the conversation piece in our booth. We heard questions like; Is that bird really pink? Is that a flamingo? Is that bird really indigenous to South Carolina? Where can I go to find these wading birds? So our answers were: Yes, they are pink and their diet will dictate their color with a shellfish diet producing more pink; They are not related to the flamingo (color is the only thing in common); yes you can find them in South Carolina and some good places to look are Bear Island WMA and Donnelley WMA. It’s always fun to introduce people to something new and unusual! We enjoyed the chase and it reminded us that God’s creation is always interesting and inspiring!

Below are the three pieces:

We framed this triptych - the cedar frame was stained dark walnut.

We framed this triptych - the cedar frame was stained dark walnut.

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We just updated our Web Site and have included these three pieces the store. I’m sure that there will be future Trotter Arts field trips chasing this interesting bird!

Art Shows - Another Set Up Idea

Following up from our last blog…… The first outdoor show of the year is in the books……. Super Bin worked well! The load-in at the show was a wait in-line until the streets were cleared process. The line of artist vehicles and trailers was long, we carted in and were able to start setting up well before most artists. One cart for the tent and one for Super Bin and we were in business!

So what new ideas did we bring home to make the next set up easier? We struggled to hang our triptychs level. We were set up on the street, but the road was sloping. How do you compensate for the slope when hanging wall art? This is a common problem with unlevel ground. Yes, this drive me crazy…. who hangs a crooked picture!

Last year we purchased mesh display walls for our tent and we love the flexibility of the mesh. We also purchased an aluminum hanger to test for heavier pieces and triptychs. The mesh works well, allowing for small adjustments and the hangers work well, except the hole pattern is in 3 inch increments.

Today, we drilled holes at approximately 1/2 inch increments which will hopefully allow for better compensation for sloping set ups. Several hangers were extended in length by riveting two hangers together to make them longer yet foldable for storage.


Before and after ……. Much smaller gaps …….. ready to add S-hooks.


Two Hangers riveted together, creating a longer, folding hanger. Great for tall tents and tall mesh walls.


Man, that’s a lot of holes to drill! Pretty sure that this one time job will result in more level art in our tent this year!

Hope this gives our Art Show friends an idea that may be useful for their booth!

Art Shows - Our Packing Strategy

We are packing for our first Outdoor Show of 2019 and we realized this will be our fifth Outdoor Art Show season. Wow!!!

Hopefully this brief Blog about Our Packing Strategy will be helpful to another Artist or simply entertaining for those who know and follow us. We learn from watching other Artist set up and have borrowed many of their ideas or practices. Maybe someone will find our process helpful is some way.

Our packing process has evolved so much and we laugh about those chaotic first few outdoor show setups! When we started, we struggled with packaging and protecting our product during transport. We grouped like sizes together in boxes until we got the tent up and then we made a game time decision on what to display. Yes, it was stressful and time consuming. Making the display decisions at the end of a long day was not a good idea.

Digressing for a moment….. Our first outdoor show was Flowertown in Summerville, SC. We travelled in a Yukon and an S10 pickup truck. Our little caravan looked like the Beverly Hillbillies moving to California. We have improved with custom bins replacing boxes and our large transport cart has saved many steps.

Now to the present…. We actually plan our tent display prior to setup. We print a scale template of our tent walls and we plan the display on paper. This has been a huge time saver, stress buster and argument avoider.

Yep, we’ve had a few healthy discussions about what to display…. This is what our hand written plan looks like :


Once the tent is up, we don’t have to think about what we are going to display, simply hang per the template.

Introducing the “Super Bin” for the 2019 season. Our next improvement is to have all of the product that we’ve selected to display in one bin. So we built a “Super Bin” this weekend and loaded it today. Our hypothesis is with one bin instead of multiple bins, we will eliminate trips to the trailer and reduce our setup time. It looks promising, but only time will tell how this will work out!


We are ready to pack the trailer ……optimistic for “Super-Bin” and the start of our season!

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Studio Creativity - Welcome to Charleston

Nothing says Charleston like Sweetgrass Baskets and the Pineapple Fountain! I wonder how we could combine these two satin images? Maybe a picture inside a picture would work…… Lets try a 16” x 16” inside a 24” x 24” and see what happens.

What do you think of the prototype we made this morning? I think we will name it Welcome to Charleston.


Below are some images of the work in process. Already thinking about different ways to do this!


March 8th Update:

The creativity continues …..We planned to put a black floating frame on this piece, finally made the time to finish it today. This will be our one of a kind - feature piece for Flowertown the first weekend of April in Summerville. Special Thanks to TC Bowers at Palmetto Fine Arts in Chapin for turning us onto the floating frames! We hope our customers like them as well as we do!


Art Shows - Load In/Out Carts

We are preparing for our first outdoor show of the year and storing our indoor setup. Loading in and loading out of shows is the most unglamorous and stressful part of Art Shows. We are always looking for ways to improve our process (kaizen for my manufacturing friends)!

So while storing our indoor setup - Pro Panels, it hit me hard ….. Why do we store our Pro Panels on our best and most versatile cart - and it sits in storage for 9 months? We always need an additional cart for outdoor shows. So today’s kaizen was to build a storage cart and free up our Pro Panel cart. I still can’t believe that we didn’t think of this sooner.

In the spirit of kaizen - low cost solutions - we used casters from a previous project, ripped 2x4’s in half, purchased a 2x6 and lag bolts. Only spent about $30 by using resources in the garage. Just for reference; at the carts sells for $270 - $350 depending on how its configured. Pricey but really good for loading in/out at shows!


Now, we have an idea for a “Super-Bin” to store the product that will be displayed in our tent - outdoor setup. Looks like more kaizen this weekend.

Chasing Rosy - Part 2

Our field trips chasing Roseate Spoonbills are turning into scenes from the 2009 movie, Up. You remember, Carl the 78 year old balloon salesman and his young friend Russell are chasing Kevin the exotic bird. They are always close to Kevin but never quite in position to “catch” him. Fortunately, there is a good ending to the movie and we are hoping for the same.

This week we travelled to Bear Island WMA to photograph a close up of Rosy. As we approached, we noticed smoke over Bear Island and my first thought was …… controlled burning, but not today!

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As we explored, the wading birds were no where to be found. Discouraged, we pretty much decided that the birds must have fled the property and began thinking about how to use our time. We decided to travel to Donnelley WMA which is only a few miles away. On our way out, in the distance, we saw a great white heron flying down to one of the back ponds. On a chance, we decided to drive down the dikes towards the heron’s flight. Surprise! The rice pond had been partially drained, and all the wading birds were present! Ibises, Herons and Spoonbills (even blackbirds)!

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Of course, they are just out of range for the close up picture. So, we positioned ourselves like hunters and waited………. You probably can guess that we waited for a long time but the close up opportunity did not materialize.

As the light was dissipating, we walked back down the dike towards the sunset and the smoke from the controlled burning. Arriving at a main dyke separating the ponds, we spot a single Roseate Spoonbill feeding. We crept down the dyke and suddenly other spoonbills flew in to feed, just in range. We franticly took shots in the dissipating light.

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It was a gift to get some good shots and we will be printing some of them on satin fabric. The chase is not over! Can we photograph Rosy nesting? I wonder where the next Chasing Rosy field trip will lead us?

Chasing Rosy (Roseate Spoonbill) - Part 1

At Trotter Arts, we are not very knowledgeable birders, but we’re on a mission for 2019…. to find Rosy (Roseate Spoonbill)!

Our Lowcountry field trips have taken us to some unique and beautiful places with wonderful wildlife. We have seen Rosy and learned about her, but have not gotten her glamour shot, yet! Photographing landscape is one thing but photographing wildlife is an entirely different thing!

A few tidbits about Rosy. She is a wading bird and shallow water feeder found near fresh or coastal waters. She feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and small fish. She feeds head down, spoonbill in the water, moving the spoonbill back and forth thru the shallow water. She resided in South America, the Gulf Coast and as far north as Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina. The plume hunters almost drove the Roseate Spoonbill to extinction in the 1860’s. Thankfully these pink beauties have slowly rebounded and we can enjoy this interesting bird

Recently, we took a brief Field Trip to Donnelley WMA and Bear Island WMA. Below is a small gallery of photo’s from the field trip. Hope you enjoy them and remember, watch your step in the marsh! We will keep you posted as we chase Rosy!