Tina Edwards Mayland returns to her roots to paint Lowcountry landscapes and wildlife


Driven to Succeed, oil on canvas, 8″ x 6″

Living on a barrier island has its advantages. Oil painter Tina Mayland doesn’t have to walk far to see the captivating wildlife, sunsets, sunrises and beach life that serve as the subjects of her artwork. As a native Charlestonian, she knows the ins and outs of the marshes and tidal creeks of the Lowcountry. While she spent much of her career working in big cities on the Eastern seaboard at technology-oriented corporations, the siren call of her native land summoned her back home 17 years ago. She retired to Seabrook Island and began what she calls her “encore career” as an artist. Her second act was not happenstance but was always part of the plan. “I put off this career until I could afford to do it. I had to go away and earn a living first,” Mayland says. “I took a one-week break after I retired from my corporate job, bought a house, set up a studio and started taking art classes. I literally went to work to become an artist.” Today, Wells Gallery on Kiawah Island and Lowcountry Artists Gallery on East Bay Street in Downtown Charleston display her artwork.

“My goal was to retire by the age of 50 so I could move back to Charleston and become an artist,” Mayland says. “It was always my goal to practice art. I made retirement by age 51, so only a year later than hoped.” Since she worked in sales and marketing during her corporate career, she says the business of being an artist came easily to her. She only needed to learn the technical aspects of the type of art she envisioned painting.

Mayland studied art and painted as early as her high school years with some well-known artists, such as the late painter Virginia Fouche Bolton and sculptor Willard Hirsch. While collectors appreciate her Lowcountry landscape paintings, she also has an affinity for painting wildlife and has a special way to attract nature’s visitors to her doorstep. “Lots of wildlife visit my deck. I throw food scraps out on the table, and everyone comes by to partake. The raccoons climb up 15 feet to the deck. A murder of crows knows us and always come by for a visit, and a pair of black vultures we have named Scotch and Soda fly to us,” she says. She also enjoys walking the beach and painting the wildlife there, such as the shorebirds and the baby turtles that hatch and run toward the ocean. “We are so lucky to live here,” Mayland adds. “There is so much to see and experience.”

Afternoon at the Masters, oil on canvas, 9″ x 12″

The artist loves nature and resonates with the landscapes that she captures in oil. “I want people to see my love of the land through the paintings and experience the feeling that they could be in the paintings at that moment in time,” Mayland says. She prefers to paint alla prima, adding layer upon layer of wet paint via a brush and palette knife until she finishes the piece over the course of one day. “If I cannot finish a painting in one day, I will put it in the freezer to keep the paint wet so I can continue it the next day,” she says. “I love the texture of bold brushstrokes and the fresh feeling and spontaneity of thick paint. I am most focused on capturing the light in my landscape paintings. The light is what tells the tale in the South. The Lowcountry has a muted palette thanks to our veil of humidity, but our sunrises and sunsets have a lot more color in our uproarious skies.”

Mayland also accepts commissioned pet portraits, which she admits is something she loves to do. She paints beloved members of many local families, some posthumously commissioned dog and cat companions who now can live forever through the brushstrokes of her paintings.

In her free time, Mayland volunteers for the Library of Congress through her membership in the Colonial Dames of America, interviewing veterans on Seabrook and Kiawah islands to preserve their knowledge and memories of the wars in which they’ve served. She also trains volunteers to capture these video interviews in other cities and towns.

While the subject matter around her home keeps her busy painting, Mayland also regularly travels to study with other artists, take classes and paint in different locales. This summer, she is traveling to both Japan and Southern France to learn about new approaches and to paint unexplored subject matter. “I have studied with so many artists over the years and am still studying,” she says. “I pick up insights from other artists as I’m continuing to learn.”

Sunset Chorus, oil on canvas, 8″ x 10″

Mayland feels that anyone can learn to paint by engaging with those who teach artistic techniques. “Painting is like learning to drive,” she says. “Not everyone has to become a professional, but everyone can learn to express themselves. You can find total escape at the easel, concentrating on the painting before you until the stresses are gone. Painting teaches us to see; it opens our eyes to everything in the world. We begin to notice shadows and clouds and no longer take the world for granted when we study it.”

No matter how far she wanders, she always wants to come back to the Charleston area. “My heart belongs to the South Carolina Lowcountry,” Mayland says. “I relish its languid summer days, its moss-covered oak trees that glow orange in the receding light, sunsets too uproarious to be believed, and the vastness of marshes punctuated by the distinctive odor of pluff mud—the smell of home. Capturing the essence of the Lowcountry landscape in my art is a way of recapturing the joys of my youth here.” *

Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and fine art.

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