Painting Iconic Rainbow Row ~ focusing on the charming elements!

I can hear gallery owners saying, “Everybody paints Rainbow Row”. That may be true, but I like to think that beautiful scenery can be interpreted in many ways. Rainbow Row is iconic in that almost everyone who visits Charleston wants to walk along the colorful stretch of East Bay, and or have their picture taken in front of it. Artists like to paint it because it is so charming.

I’ve painted Rainbow Row now three times. Downtown World was my first painting. It is a large piece and leads the viewer down the long sidewalk in front of the colorful row homes. My second painting of Rainbow Row is called Colors of the Rainbow and focuses on some of the rooftops. My latest painting entitled Charming Rainbow Row focuses on an inviting section of the famous iconic home fronts.

Charming Rainbow Row    by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, Oil on board, $2200

Charming Rainbow Row by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, Oil on board, $2200

With this painting I wanted to feature some of the many charming elements that make the colorful buildings so impressive and extraordinary. Window boxes overflowing with flowers and greenery, potted plants lining the sidewalk, historic wooden shutters with their old fashioned ties, decorative lanterns over doorways, and of course wrought-iron gates all bring passerbys to a standstill. They are what take the colorful row homes to the next level.

Charming is one of the most used adjectives when describing downtown Charleston. Architectural elements are a big reason why.

I love the old-fashioned park bench that invites strangers to sit and relax in front of the private residence. With colorful window boxes on either side the sitter feels like they are sitting in a park or garden, not along a busy road.

Charming Rainbow Row   bench detail by William R. Beebe

Charming Rainbow Row bench detail by William R. Beebe

Gas lit lanterns are common in Historic Charleston. It is a charming element that many of the newer homes are featuring.

Arched entryways with wrought-iron gates add decorative curves to all of the verticals and horizontals in traditional architecture.

Charming Rainbow Row   lantern and arch details by William R. Beebe

Charming Rainbow Row lantern and arch details by William R. Beebe

Seeing the way the light filtered through the canopy of trees lining the sidewalk highlighting colors and objects, was what inspired me to paint Rainbow Row once again.

I hope you like my painting Charming Rainbow Row and find that it makes you want to park yourself on the bench or take a picture. I always enjoy walking past this location and almost always take a picture. Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art! It is most appreciated.

Please check back soon to see what’s next 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

Along Meeting Street ~ Colorful Impressions!

There are many locations in downtown Charleston that I return to when seeking inspiration for my art. One of those locations is a stretch along Meeting Street. When the light is right my attention is diverted in many directions, always wanting to take it all in.

Streaks of light cross the street and bounce off the sides of colorful homes, caused by the canopy of tree tops that cover the street. Strong shadows play tricks on the eyes changing bold colors to neutralized or cooler colors.

My painting entitled 43 Meeting Street was about recording an historic home accurately. When I went back to 43 Meeting Street and viewed it from another angle I saw everything differently. It wasn’t all about the yellow house this time.

It was as if I was looking into an Impressionist painting; splashes of red and white flowers popping out of greenery, lavender shadows, Cerulean blue highlights reflecting off objects, and an overall sense of light!

So it was with all of that in mind, I set out to paint Along Meeting Street in the spirit of a plein air painter, pretending I was working on location with my French easel. My mission was to keep it painterly. Don’t be afraid of color. Let the light shine through. Have fun with it.

Along Meeting Street    by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, Oil on board, $2200

Along Meeting Street by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, Oil on board, $2200

When I found myself putting more detail in than necessary I would reverse it and deconstruct it. I used brushes without fine tips to keep from producing sharp edges. One of my favorite things about painting is “letting the paint surprise you”.

It doesn’t happen all that often when painting in a realistic style. It can, but I find it happens much more often when I’m trying to create an impression.

I hope you like Along Meeting Street. The yellow house is one of Charleston’s many historic single houses with the unique side porch. This stretch of Meeting Street is one I always enjoy walking on a nice sunny day. Charleston is a great walking city with scenes like this throughout.

Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art! I will be starting several other Charleston scenes soon, working in the same manner, so 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



The Watchful Guardian ~ a female Great Blue Heron on high alert!

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

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

I stood for an hour or so with my camera focused on a female Great Blue Heron. She was on her nest, perched 20 feet up on a bald cypress tree. Much of the time was spent having her two little herons biting at her beak, obviously hungry. I was taken aback by the aggressive nature of the young birds as they clamped on their mother’s beak, not wanting to let go. The Great Blue showed a tremendous amount of patience. When she could break loose from the twins’ vice grips, she would look up and out, searching for her mate, always on high alert for predators.

My painting entitled The Watchful Guardian is one of those moments when the heron was most likely exhausted, staring out across the lake where alligators lurk and water moccasins swim. Great Egrets nest nearby and I witnessed them double team her going after her chicks. Her feathers bristled as she guarded the nest and scared them off.

The sun was up high and behind the bird creating a nice backlighting effect on the raised feathers. The stark background helps create the sense of isolation and maybe even a sense of desperation. Where is her mate with dinner for the young ones? What is taking him so long? How much longer will she have to hold the fort down alone?

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This daily ritual lasts for up to 10 weeks until the young ones are old enough to leave the nest.

Great Blue Herons continue to fascinate me. In each portrait I paint I try to capture them in a striking pose and evoke an emotional response from the viewer. I like to place the viewer up closer than most people ever get to these large, almost prehistoric looking creatures, so that they will want to know more about each bird.

Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. I will be working on a series of Charleston paintings for the foreseeable future. I have other bird portraits in mind but for now Charleston is calling!

Please check back soon to see what’s next on my 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

Night Vision ~ alone in the night!

Many a night while driving by wetlands I spot Great Blue Herons standing alone in the dark. Like a detective in a trench coat with his fedora hat tilted downward at the end of a dark alley waiting for his suspect to make a move, the Great Blue Heron thinks he goes unnoticed.

Most of the time Great Blue Herons are somewhat camouflaged, blending into the branches of trees or the brownish gray winter grasses and reeds. In the dark they are hard to spot, unless of course there is a full moon out and the moonbeams hit that bright white face!

In my painting entitled Night Vision, I present a Great Blue Heron being hit by the light of the moon. The heron is surrounded by darkness but he can see as if it’s daylight. He is a predator, keenly aware of any movement around him.

Night Vision    by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36, Oil on canvas, $7200

Night Vision by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36, Oil on canvas, $7200

Time goes by slowly as he has no other place to go. An occasional snooze on one leg helps him rest up after a long day of fishing. He turns and preens his feathers keeping himself both clean and busy.

I wanted this to be a dramatic piece, with the heron’s white face standing out against the dark background. The head is turned as if he realizes that he’s been spotted. His feathers are flared out piercing the night air.

Night Vision   by William R. Beebe, head detail

Night Vision by William R. Beebe, head detail

His yellow eye should captivate the viewer and make one wonder what the large bird is thinking. He is not afraid of being alone in the dark. After all, this is his territory. He intimidates other birds with his size and eats almost anything that moves.

Does the darkness cast him in a different light? I think so. It makes him more mysterious. It makes one wonder what his life is like? Will he stay there all night and continue to sleep on one leg? Will he move to the woods and sleep in a tree to be more camouflaged? Or, will he be active all night and fish with his night vision?

Great Blue Herons continue to fascinate me. I see them almost every day. Just yesterday heavy fog rolled in off the water in Isle of Palms and a Great Blue Heron’s silhouette crossed the sky as if it had radar. The other night two Great Blue Heron’s flew in tandem across the sky as the sun was setting. One let out a call and peeled away like a Blue Angel leaving its formation.

I have another GBH portrait drawn out on canvas, which I look forward to working on sometime soon. His feathers are raised and he has a strong profile!

I hope you like Night Vision! Thank you for reading my journal and for being interested in my art. I sincerely appreciate 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