SEWE ~ Charleston’s Southeastern Wildlife Exposition!

Long before we moved to Mount Pleasant, SC, we had heard about the annual Southeastern Wildlife Exposition being a must see event in Charleston. The other day I saw a post on Facebook from mountpleasantmagazine.com offering two free tickets to SEWE to the person who writes the best comment explaining why they love Mount Pleasant, SC and I won!!!  

SEWE is the largest exposition of its kind in the nation! Over 500 artists, exhibitors and wildlife experts come from around the world. The paintings and sculptures are exhibited at the fine art gallery in the first class Charleston Place Hotel.

We walked up the grand stairway to the fine art gallery on the second floor, turned the corner and the first showroom on the left featured the work of Art LaMay!  He was there with a room full of large Great Blue Heron paintings, and various other beautiful shorebird paintings. Then down the hall on the right was John Seerey-Lester and his incredible paintings of ducks and wildlife. I remember his work on Duck Stamps back before I even started painting.  

We were off to a great start! I was wowed. Then came a large ballroom full of wonderful outdoor/wildlife artists, specializing in hunting scenes, wild animals, and birdlife.  There were some hunting dog scenes that were undoubtedly museum quality. Many of the artists are nationally and internationally known. A number of the artists were local to Charleston. I’m sure all were glad to see the over 40,000 visitors swooning over their hard work. 

After having recently photographed and painted Hooded Mergansers, a HM painting caught my eye along with some other beautiful duck paintings. The artist is Jim Rataczak, traveling all the way from Minnesota to be in this prestigious show. I loved the softness of his paintings along with the warm lighting and pleasing compositions. I could tell instantly that he has a passion for his work.  Jen took a picture of the two of us by his Hooded Merganser painting. It was a pleasure to meet him and study his work up close.

William R. Beebe (left) with Jim Rataczak at SEWE

William R. Beebe (left) with Jim Rataczak at SEWE

The featured artist was Kathryn Mapes Turner. She was busy signing posters of her magnificent stallion painting. There were red dots (sold) on almost all of her paintings. 

Throughout the show were incredible paintings of bears, wolves, large cats, elephants, etc… that all reminded me of the work of Robert Bateman. 
 
Other SEWE venues included flyfishing demos, hunting displays, Jack Hanna and his animals, Jeff Foxworthy and his art!  We spotted decoy carvers out front of the Audubon Gallery storefront on King Street. We loved seeing our first flight demonstration by Birds of Prey (a local bird rescue and rehab organization). Harris's Hawks flew from the tops of nearby buildings, landing on the arm of their trainer. A variety of owls flew from perch to perch, showing off their beautiful big eyes and patterned wings. They had a tent where we could get within a few feet of the birds. Here are a few pics!

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As we walked back toward our car along South King Street, leaving all of the wonderful bird paintings behind, we saw the oddest thing. A flock of Guinea Hens came out onto the street making all kinds of noise and headed up King Street toward the SEWE Exposition!   ☺

We loved our first SEWE (36th annual). I came home inspired, motivated, and energized. It was an affirmation that there is a love of aviary art out there beyond what I had ever imagined. 

I’m excited to delve into a new series of bird paintings, inspired by SEWE! When I say, “what’s next on the easel”, it’ll most likely be another bird painting!!!  ☺

Thanks as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art!!!  


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

Pitt Street Mergansers ~ a small study!

Hooded Mergansers have been hanging out around the Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant, SC, all winter long. Each time I visit the bridge I watch the flock feed, swim and sleep, and take as many photographs as time allows.

I’ve always loved the look of Hooded Mergansers, male and female. In breeding plumage the males sport a black and white crest and the females have a reddish-brown crest. Both can inflate their crest to attract the other.  

The inspiration behind this 12” by 14”, oil on board study was seeing them in action. These ducks are fast to take off and are a challenge to photograph. I like the formation of the two pairs and the variety in the way their wings are set. 

Pitt Street Mergansers by William R. Beebe, 12 x 14, oil on board, $850 (unframed)

Pitt Street Mergansers by William R. Beebe, 12 x 14, oil on board, $850 (unframed)

I’ve never painted a merganser before so I thought I’d start with a small study. I’ve priced it accordingly and it is now available on our website.  

I hope you like it. Thank you for following my art and reading my journal!  

My easel is empty and waiting for me to get started!  ☺


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

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 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”!  

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, $6600

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, $6600

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. 

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, detail shot Great White Egrets

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, detail shot Great White Egrets

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. I would love to hear what you think and if you agree. 

Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art and photography!  Please check back soon to see and read about a small merganser painting I just completed.   


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

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston ~ by horse and carriage!

My previous painting, 3 Meeting Street, was all about strong lighting and cast shadows.  I wanted my next painting to capture “old”, as in historic and old looking.  Even though much of Charleston is charming and beautiful, there are sections that look very old while still remaining charming.  The corner of State and Queen Street is one such location in the historic French Quarter!

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston, by William R. Beebe, 30 x 36, oil on canvas, $9500

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston, by William R. Beebe, 30 x 36, oil on canvas, $9500

We had been to this corner of the French Quarter before.  It was at a Friday Night Art Walk when we entered the Anglin Smith Fine Art Gallery (the building on the left) for the first time. The 200 year old building was lit up, full of people, and full of beautiful paintings. Wine and food were being served, and there was live music. I admired the old, cypress wood walls; the floors were patterned stone and the ambiance couldn’t have been better for enjoying art and people. 

Walking the street during the day you’d never guess how alive the location becomes at night. Looking at the 200 year-old building from the outside you instantly think “old” as you see the multiple layers of plaster and brick exposed by the elements. When the horse and carriage came along, I noticed that it blocked the view of all cars in the scene. All of a sudden the scene became timeless.  

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

The guide is featured, depicted turned toward his passengers sharing his local knowledge about the history of the French Quarter. The colorful rowhomes along Queen Street are lined with palm trees, leading one’s eyes further into the painting.

While trying to capture the character and age the challenges became trying not to clean it up too much (which is my tendency), and remaining mindful not to make it dreary. I added openings of blue to the otherwise cloudy sky to brighten up the day. The impressionist touches on the horse help imply a slow movement giving the painting a little life, along with the people on the sidewalk and in the carriage.  

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Touring the French Quarter in Charleston (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

I hope this painting entitled Touring the French Quarter draws you in and makes you curious about historic and charming Charleston.  Each painting I do makes me want to learn more about the fascinating city we now call home.  

Thank you for reading my journal and following my art.  I would love to hear from you, if you would like to comment below.  Thanks again and please check back soon to see 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