Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe
Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe
Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe
Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh


Framed oil painting

30 x 40 (image size) oil on canvas

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Reworking a Painting ~ Should I or shouldn’t I?  

I would say that the great majority of paintings I produce I am still happy with over time. I always question could I have done better? And then there are some paintings that I look back on that I would love to take a brush to! I’ve only done it a few times over the years. Some I’ve improved and a few have ended up in the trash!  

For a number of years I’ve been questioning whether I should rework Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh. The warm tones I used to evoke the sensation of permeated sunlight ended up bothering me. I would look at the tall grasses and think they needed to stand out more. The sky wasn’t bright enough.  

I always questioned whether or not I should add a bird or two to add some life to the painting. After all, the scene is of one of the most popular bird refuges in the country, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  

Now that we are living in the Lowcountry, I am a frequent visitor to wetlands where I witness herons and egrets almost on a daily basis. I have studied and photographed them always with a painting in mind. 

The other day I decided it was time to liven up Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh and paint some birds into the scene. I pulled it out of storage and studied it. I could easily envision a couple of Great White Egrets chasing each other low along the water. So I ended up “taking the brush to it”!  

I added some strength to the blue in the upper sky, put touches of pale Ultramarine blue on the underside of the clouds picking up the reflection of the water color. I quickly saw the warm pall start to lift. Next I reduced the amount of yellow-ochre in the dried grasses and went more with Raw Sienna, Naples yellow, and white.  

When I painted in the two Great White Egrets it added the life I thought the painting was lacking. 

Did I make it better? I left it on my easel for a few days, frequently taking peeks to try and get multiple first impressions (so to speak). It seems to have passed the test for me. I look at it now and it takes me outside to a place where I would want to be.  

Here is the original painting and the backstory.