Pelican Perfectly Perched ~ A bird’s-eye view!

As I stood on the Aviary overlook at the Virginia Living Museum, I found myself looking down eye to eye with a Brown Pelican, he on his perch and me on mine.  While I had my zoom lens focused in on him, he was simultaneously watching me, the little fish in the water, and a duck that was beginning to infringe on his territory.   He seemed perfectly content on his perch.  

Pelican Perfectly Perched by William R. Beebe, 16 x 12, oil on board, SOLD

Pelican Perfectly Perched by William R. Beebe, 16 x 12, oil on board, SOLD

For as long as we were at the museum that day the pelican never left his log.  He spent quite a bit of time preening, which is always entertaining.  He stretched one leg way out as his other large webbed foot kept him balanced on the log.  He raised his long beak toward the sky and let out a big yawn, giving me a glance at the huge gullet that can hold many gallons of water and fish at the same time.  

He seemed like an old timer from what I could tell.  My mind wandered, wondering what his life was like before he ended up at the Living Museum.  Did he spend years hanging out in Virginia Beach, chasing fishing boats, cruising the shoreline?  What is this bird’s story?

Now that I’ve painted him, I want to know even more about him.  I am checking with the nice people at the museum to find out all I can about him.  

I used a palette knife on most of the bird in order to give him texture.  I thought it would give him a kind of “weathered look”.  The afternoon lighting was strong, highlighting the hair on his head and the back of his neck.  The light was also creating interesting water patterns that day.  

Pelican Perfectly Perched (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Pelican Perfectly Perched (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

My goal was to create a somewhat playful look and to try and capture this particular bird’s personality.  As I write about him, I’m anxious to go back to the Virginia Living Museum and visit with my new friend.  

Pelican Perfectly Perched (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Pelican Perfectly Perched (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

When I get the scoop on Mr. Pelican, I’ll be sure to let you all know.  Until then, I hope you enjoy being introduced to him through my painting!


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