Coffee in the Park ~ this bench is taken!

It was a busy beautiful morning, the first day of fall, as we loaded the car with three paintings of Charleston to take downtown to the Charleston Artist Guild to hopefully be juried in as an exhibiting member. Not knowing how long the jurying process would take, I decided to put my camera in the car in case it took several hours and we needed to kill some time.

Well, we needed to be back in an hour to pick up my paintings, so we decided to pick up a muffin and coffee at a bakery nearby and drive over to Battery Park to sit on a park bench overlooking the water. I gave up on the idea of doing any photography until a tugboat went by and I went running to the car to get my camera. I’m a sucker for tugboats.  I guess it’s the maritime artist in me.  

As I walked back to the bench to sit and finish my coffee, I heard some birds squawking a few benches down, under an old oak tree. To my surprise I could see three very large, juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons hopping up and down off the park bench!

The Bench Warmers, photo by William R. Beebe

The Bench Warmers, photo by William R. Beebe

Shy Bird!  Photo by William R. Beebe

Shy Bird!  Photo by William R. Beebe

On Top of the Old Oak Tree! Photo by William R. Beebe

On Top of the Old Oak Tree! Photo by William R. Beebe

Battery Park, Charleston SC.  A Night Heron Rookery.  Photo by William R. Beebe

Battery Park, Charleston SC.  A Night Heron Rookery.  Photo by William R. Beebe

Good Grip! Photo by William R. Beebe

Good Grip! Photo by William R. Beebe

Balancing Act!  Photo by William R. Beebe

Balancing Act!  Photo by William R. Beebe

I've got an itch!  Photo by William R. Beebe

I've got an itch!  Photo by William R. Beebe

We walked over to see if I could get a few pics without spooking them away. As we approached we soon discovered that there were many more Night Herons up in the tree.  We didn’t scare them at all. This was their tree! They weren’t about to leave.  

Turns out that the Night Herons nest in the old oak trees in the park.  The park is known by birders to be a Night Heron rookery! We were lucky to stumble upon them before they migrate south for the winter.  

Our time flew by as I took pictures of the cast of characters and before I knew it, it was time to head back to the Charleston Artist Guild to pick up my paintings. 

We might never have discovered the rookery in Battery Park if we hadn’t taken my paintings in that morning, bought coffee and a muffin, and sat on that park bench waiting to hear whether I would be accepted into the Guild.  

It turned out to be a very good day for along with discovering the rookery I was juried in as an Exhibiting Member of the Charleston Artist Guild! It is a wonderful organization of which I am honored to become an exhibiting member.

I wasn’t out looking for birds but somehow they found me!  I’m not sure what my next bird painting will be or when I will be painting it, but it’s always on my mind.  For now, I’m working on a painting of Church Street in Charleston and enjoying it thoroughly.  

Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art and photography.  If you are interested in seeing my Church Street painting as it progresses, I’m posting work-in-progress photos on my Facebook Page.  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

Seeing Charleston with Fresh Eyes ~ what’s next on the easel?

There are some disadvantages to being a newcomer-artist to an area when it comes to choosing what local scenes to paint. Where do you start? There is so much to see, so much history to learn, so many choices of what to paint. But, there are some advantages of being from away, too!   

When we set out to discover new painting material in downtown Charleston, lens in hand, I am in sensory overload. Seeing a town with “fresh eyes” makes everything jump out at you. We will spend extra time looking at, studying, and photographing scenes that might seem commonplace to someone else used to seeing it all of the time. I say “we” because Jen and I do a lot of exploring together and she has a good eye for what would make a good painting.  

There will be many times when I will be on my own, spending hours taking photographs and detail pictures or doing quick sketches for upcoming paintings, but starting out and being new in town we enjoy exploring together.  

We’ve had very limited time downtown, relatively speaking, in our two short months here, but I am already inspired by a number of Charleston street scenes. I thought I’d include some pics in this blog of scenes that I have chosen to paint.  

One of the biggest challenges in painting street scenes is getting the perspective right. Most camera lenses tend to distort the buildings considerably. It can be very frustrating. My ten years of experience with MBNA painting architectural scenes will come in very handy.

I plan on having several paintings in progress at the same time, hopping back and forth between paintings. I will most likely post work-in-progress pics on my Facebook business page and write numerous blogs about the painting process each painting goes through.   

The first image is of Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church with the pink French Huguenot Church on the right of the photograph. After wandering all around the French Quarter section of Charleston and seeing the Saint Philip’s steeple appear quite often over treetops and rooftops, we came across this vantage point of it looking down Church Street. As I was photographing, a carriage-ride stopped just before the intersection of Queen Street and Church Street, whereupon the driver proceeded to inform his paying customers all about the history of the beautiful and architecturally diverse churches.  

Photograph by William R. Beebe

Photograph by William R. Beebe

Many artists have painted Saint Philip’s Church. It is one of those captivating street scenes that whether you’ve lived in Charleston all of your life or whether you are a newcomer like myself, everyone can appreciate the view down Church Street!

This next image caught my eye when we took our first walk around Charleston before we moved here. It was taken in December so I plan on going back to reshoot it with more greenery and better lighting. The arched gate and doorway, street light, crepe myrtles, window boxes, weathered architecture and wrought-iron railings on the homes' balconies all combine to form a charming scene full of artistic interest.  

Photograph by William R. Beebe

Photograph by William R. Beebe

In this third image, the speckled light filtering through the towering old tree creates lovely shadows against the colorful buildings. The bike leaning against the no parking sign and the people walking up and down the sidewalk show Charleston as it is, a good walking and bike riding city.

Photograph by William R. Beebe

Photograph by William R. Beebe

The last scene is a colorful cropped view of some of the mansions looking down East Bay Street. When you park along the Battery and walk into town along the water these are some of the beautiful antebellum homes that line the sidewalk. Along with the colorful facades are palm trees and a blooming crepe myrtle. Balconies, street lanterns and an American flag also add interest.  

Photograph by William R. Beebe

Photograph by William R. Beebe

I’m excited to get started painting all of these scenes. If you have a favorite I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me.  

Thank you as always for your interest in my art. I will be painting soon and posting pics on Facebook. Please check back soon to see which scene I chose to start on. Just finished the drawing a few minutes ago! Thanks, too, for reading my journal!!!


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

Pelicans in Paradise ~ a bird's-eye view of Vero Beach!

My most recent commissioned painting depicts the tropical vista from the balcony of my collector’s home in Vero Beach, Florida. After analyzing the photographs of their beautiful home and view, I was taken with the Caribbean feel of the scene. Palm trees, a white sandy beach and colorful, clear water combine to form paradise! 

Pelicans in Paradise, 24 x 36, oil on canvas, by William R. Beebe

Pelicans in Paradise, 24 x 36, oil on canvas, by William R. Beebe

Given our mutual love of Brown Pelicans, and knowing that I paint Brown Pelican paintings, he asked if I could add a number of them flying by the balcony. What a great project!  

After OK’ing my pencil sketch of the overall scene, I broke out the paints with tropical in mind. Meaning, the water should lean toward blue/green and not be as dark and ultramarine blue as northern water. I wanted the sky to work well with the water. The sunny day should create nice bright, light greens on the palms and darker greens in the shadows.  

The values of color were all based around the top of the balcony balustrade. Hit by direct sunlight, I wanted the top (a creamy off-white) as bright as possible without whitewashing all of the color. From there I darkened down the shaded side so that the eyes look beyond the top of the balustrade and take in the scene.  

Fortunately, having taken thousands of photographs of Brown Pelicans, I had plenty of material to work with. I liked this particular formation because the big Brown in the lead is casting a glance toward his admirer on the balcony and taking his followers on the scenic route by a beautiful home. The V-formation of the wings of the last Brown on the right side of the painting creates some movement to the otherwise glider-like wings of his companions. I think it also adds a nice uplifting touch to the painting.  

Big Brown leading the way! Painting (detail) by William R. Beebe

Big Brown leading the way! Painting (detail) by William R. Beebe

Taking the scenic route! Painting (detail) by William R. Beebe

Taking the scenic route! Painting (detail) by William R. Beebe

It was a pleasure to paint Pelicans in Paradise. It will take several weeks to dry and then I will put a couple coats of protective varnish on it. Once the varnish dries it will be framed and shipped off to its new home!  

Next on the easel will be a Charleston scene. I’ve had several outings downtown since we’ve moved here, photographing potential scenes to paint. So much to choose from! Thank you for reading my journal. Please check back soon to see what’s 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

New City, New Home, New Studio ~ back to work!

Being in transition for the past year has put a damper on my productivity. But now we find ourselves living in Mount Pleasant, SC (a suburb of Charleston) in our new home and I’m finally back to work!  

My studio is small but I lucked out and now have the best natural lighting I’ve ever had in a studio. I don’t have a compass but I would put money on it being “northern light”. Northern light has long been thought to be the most natural painting light for artists to work by. My only problem now is that when it’s cloudy outside my 60-watt overhead lights just don’t cut it.  :-(  I’ll have to compensate with goose-neck and floor lamps.  

With less closet space for art supplies I decided to order myself a taboret. It is an artist’s workstation with drawers for paints and cabinets for supplies like turpentine, oils, paper towel, and brushes. It was supposed to arrive a week or two ago and has been lost on a truck out west somewhere. It finally arrived and is the perfect workstation in my small studio. The top on both sides of the unit slide out, extending the much-needed workspace.  

william-r-beebe-artist

Just out the door from my studio is what we fondly call Cranes Nest Gallery. When clients, prospective clients, and friends come to see my work we have a "gallery" space featuring maritime, aviary, and American and European landscape paintings. Paintings are up and showings are by appointment only.  :-)

I’m busily working on my first painting in my new studio. It’s a commission piece depicting the view from the balcony of my collector’s beautiful home in Vero Beach, Fl. Even though I’m in tighter quarters, I’m finding that I’m using the space more efficiently. I even have room for my old comfy chair, which allows me to take a break, sit back and study my work from afar.  

I’ve surrounded myself with a maritime theme, including the Virginia Schooner racing the Pride of Baltimore II, the American Eagle racing the Heritage off the coast of Maine, the J. & E. Riggin under full sail, and the Charles W. Morgan dockside in Mystic, CT.  

All in all, my new studio is working out great.  Productivity should start picking up.  I’ve joined the Charleston and Mount Pleasant Artist Guilds to connect with other local artists.  Once I’ve built up my inventory of local scenes we’ll be seeking representation by a local gallery.  

In the meantime we’re enjoying the number one rated foodie town in the U. S. There are so many good restaurants it’s hard to choose where to go. The birding here is also spectacular!  I have to make room on my MAC for all the new South Carolina pics!  

Thanks as always for your interest in my work and my photography! It is appreciated very much. Please check back soon to see what’s on the easel next!


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