Lowcountry Reflections ~ big picture, small painting!  

On our first trip to Huntington Beach State Park at Pawley’s Island, SC, I was hoping to see some Roseated Spoonbills and a variety of other birds. I left my camera bag in the car with several lenses and set out with my 400mm zoom lens on our birding outing. 

We walked along the causeway and I had a field day photographing a variety of birds, zooming in on them and capturing them in flight and in their natural habitat, the salt marsh.  

After a period of time we began to take in the beauty of the marsh right in front of us. The tall grasses were a colorful green and the tidal creek meandered off into the distance in a graceful curve, with several small islands of grass dotting the open water.  

    Lowcountry Reflections    by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $850

Lowcountry Reflections by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $850

Then a wall of bright, cumulous clouds formed against the blue sky and the reflections in the water became strong. The marsh scene I had been looking to paint was right in front of us! One problem, my zoom lens couldn’t take it all in. My regular lens was way back in the car, about a half-mile away!  

It was in the 90’s and we were on pavement. Would it be worth it to run back to the car and get my lens just to get this marsh shot??? Would the cloud formation change and all that effort be for naught???  I had recently started jogging again after many years and thought to myself, I think I can make it.  ☺

Well I made it there and back, all the while thinking why didn’t I just take my camera bag in the first place?  ☺  The cloud formation was even stronger when I returned and I took numerous pics hoping to capture at least the essence of the “big picture”.  

This painting, entitled Lowcountry Reflections is on a relatively small canvas, 11” by 14”. I worked in my studio from my photos, recalling how big the sky seemed, with the wall of clouds receding off into the distance along with the meandering tidal creek. The sky was a beautiful blue, the grasses a summer green with some warm brown grasses remaining from early spring, and the colors were all reflected on the glassy surface of the shallow water.  

   Lowcountry Reflections   (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Lowcountry Reflections (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

I can see why so many artists paint the Lowcountry marshland. Depending on the time of day and lighting, such simple scenes can evoke so many emotions, provoke deep thought and hopefully lift one’s spirits.  

I hope you like my painting Lowcountry Reflections. I enjoyed painting it, even though I did have to run back to the car to capture it. ;-) Thanks as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. 

I’ve already started working on my next downtown Charleston scene.  Can’t wait to paint my next marsh painting, maybe on a larger scale. I also have another Shem Creek painting in mind!  

If you’d like to comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again!  


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
 What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe   

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

 

The Many Colors of Shem Creek ~ the Jewel of Mount Pleasant, SC!  

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. 

    The Many Colors of Shem Creek    by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $3000

The Many Colors of Shem Creek by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $3000

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.


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
 What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

Birding at Huntington Beach State Park ~ worth the trip!  

We’ve been meaning to make the short hour and 15 minute drive north from Mount Pleasant, SC, to Huntington Beach State Park for a while now. A local birder told me that there are Roseated Spoonbills there throughout the summer, a bird I haven’t seen much in our short time living in South Carolina. I’d heard from a number of sources that it is one of the best birdwatching locations in the state. They were right!  I took over 500 pics in a couple of hours.  

As we drove into the 2500 acre park the road turned into a causeway over a large saltmarsh. Birds of many kinds were on both sides of the street feeding at low tide in the shallow water. Anhingas were drying their wings while perched on posts. Egrets and herons were flying back and forth over the causeway.  Spoonbills were off in the distance.

 Anhinga getting ready to take off after drying its wings.

Anhinga getting ready to take off after drying its wings.

 Great White Egret

Great White Egret

 Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

 Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

We knew the causeway would be a great place to photograph but we started further into the park at the marsh boardwalk. White Ibis and Snowy Egrets were feeding close by the boardwalk. A Green Heron was lurking in-between the railing, walking down the boardwalk, and dancing on the top railing!  

 Green Heron busting a move!

Green Heron busting a move!

Another location in the park was a favorite of this Little Blue Heron. He was all alone, but from a birding platform we were able to spot various kinds of herons and egrets flying back and forth from fairly close up.  

 Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

The causeway allows birders to photograph on both sides of the road, which is ideal because you can count on having the sun at your back most of the time, if you so choose. It also allows you to look out over the expansive marshland. Today happened to have a big sky with a dramatic cloud formation over the marsh. I’ve been looking for marsh scenes to paint and this one might be on the list.  

 Huntington Beach Marsh

Huntington Beach Marsh

I saw more Green Herons and Tricolored Herons than I’ve ever seen in one location. There were plenty of Great White Egrets too. We didn’t get to see the Roseated Spoonbills up close, so that will have to be on another trip. 

As we were getting ready to leave, this beautiful Tricolored Heron flew up onto the boardwalk railing. I was struck by its size and coloring.

 Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

I’m sure there are certain times of day and year that Huntington Beach State Park would have many more birds than we saw today, but I was more than pleased with what we saw in our short time there. I can’t wait to go back.

 Two Anhingas

Two Anhingas

I hope you like the pics of the birds that made the cut for this blog. Some might find there way into future paintings. 

Thanks for reading my journal and following my art and photography. I will be finishing a small shrimp boat scene in the next few days and will be posting a blog about it soon thereafter.  Thanks!!!


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
 What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

Lowcountry Heron ~ feeling at home with the Spanish-moss!

I was tracking the Great Blue Heron with my camera as it flew overhead, when it turned and decided to land in a huge tree adorned with Spanish-moss. It looked so at home standing on the branch surrounded by the, oddly enough, similar shaped and colored moss. This image always stuck with me and I finally decided to capture the moment on canvas. I call the finished painting Lowcountry Heron. 

    Lowcountry Heron    by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $1800

Lowcountry Heron by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $1800

Spanish-moss is associated with the deep south, and now that we live in Charleston I’m sure it will become a more frequent subject in my paintings.  It is a flowering plant that grows in tropical and subtropical climates. Blue Herons often tend to rest in areas where they feel safe and somewhat camouflaged. So even though it was the first time I had sighted a Blue Heron surrounded by Spanish-moss, it was an obvious resting location for this beautiful bird.  

I hope this painting gives you a sense of place and solitude, which I felt while observing one of my favorite birds, the Great Blue Heron.  

As an aside, we had some fun when coming up with a title. Branch Manager, Spanish-moss division was a close second.  ☺  Out on a Limb, Spanish Heron, Blending In, and Cammo Bird were other ones that didn’t make the cut!  ☺

Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. Something Charleston is next on the easel! 


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
 What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe