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