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