The Standout ~ A Brown Pelican with Creek Cred!

Not all Brown Pelicans look alike or act alike. They exhibit some human qualities and characteristics, giving each their own personality. I always marvel and wonder as I watch a large formation of pelicans fly along the beach, what makes one the leader and just who is that last pelican bringing up the rear?

Some answers have become clear to me as I started choosing pelicans for my bird portraiture. In selecting ones to paint I spend time watching them interact with each other as they compete for food, vie for a favorite sunny spot, and rest with others or stand alone.

There are leaders who appear to be bigger and stronger. Some are aggressive and some aren’t. There are passive types like The Bystander, who are quite content watching and waiting. The Bystander stood out because he stood alone and had a look of innocence. His brown feathers were going through the transition to adult feather colors, and he was very likeable.

In my latest painting I chose a pelican that definitely stood out in a crowd. He carried himself with stature. His soft yellow head was held up high and turned to the side as one might expect a leader to do as they look out over the ocean or battlefield. His wings were tucked in as if at attention.

The Standout    by William R. Beebe, 30 x 24, Oil on canvas, $6200

The Standout by William R. Beebe, 30 x 24, Oil on canvas, $6200

The Standout   by William R. Beebe, head detail

The Standout by William R. Beebe, head detail

The Standout   by William R. Beebe, feather detail

The Standout by William R. Beebe, feather detail

This pelican definitely had the respect of his comrades. He had the dashing good looks to boot. Other pelicans wanted to stand by his side as he looked out over his mates enjoying their down time at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, SC.

I imagined him being the Top Gun and leader of formations in flight. I would guess he comes from a distinguished pedigree of pelicans and has been a winner his whole life.

My goal was to capture him as he was, in all his glory.

I hope you find him likeable too, for he also had a friendly, approachable look.

Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. I appreciate it very much. Please check back soon to see what’s next on my easel! Thank you.


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