Riding the Wave~ A first hand account!

For a week, morning and afternoon, I found myself knee deep in the Atlantic Ocean with my head going back and forth as if I was watching a close tennis match.  Instead, I was searching North and South for incoming Brown Pelicans.  They were very active, riding the air currents off the breakers, sometimes coming surprisingly close to shore.  When they did it was exhilarating.  It was as if some of them were showing off for the camera, coming right at me!  I took over 4000 pictures!  

Sometimes I’d be totally focused on one or fifteen coming at me, when my bird spotter, Jen, would yell out “look left” or “look right”.  It felt like a sport, likened to shooting clays or skeet.  It was a challenging photographic experience.  It was also pushing my safety zone of entering into the ocean.  It was all done for art’s sake!  :-)

This painting represents my love of the water and my love of the Brown Pelican.  It brings them together in a scene that I witnessed over and over again.  It is that moment when after heading right at me along the crest of the wave, the Brown Pelican decides to lift up and peel off changing course.  Most of the time it would head further out to sea, but occasionally it would find another breaker to ride further down the shoreline.  

Riding the Wave by William R. Beebe, 12 x 20, Oil on board, SOLD

Riding the Wave by William R. Beebe, 12 x 20, Oil on board, SOLD

I find their gliding abilities astounding.  They can sometimes glide for as far as you can see.  When they do flap their wings it is with total control, coming within inches and sometimes tickling the crests of the waves.  

Riding the Wave by William R. Beebe, (detail shot), 12 x 20, Oil on board, SOLD

Riding the Wave by William R. Beebe, (detail shot), 12 x 20, Oil on board, SOLD

The finishing touches for Riding the Wave were the tiny white spray dots from the whitewater surf.  It helped to create that sense of movement and action that I felt when I was there in person, knee deep.  

It was a fun painting to paint.  It takes me back to what a great time I had photographing them.  I’ve already started another pelican painting from the same trip.  I hope you enjoy my painting as much as I enjoyed painting it!


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