New Year’s Resolution – Seeing the Light

I recently started thinking about what I wanted to paint in the New Year and where I want to take my art. I decided my New Year’s resolution, artistically speaking, would be to paint many Charleston scenes and work on infusing more light into my upcoming work. I want to have fun with the paint, explore variations of color, and to see the light in each painting!  

Seeing the light is much easier when the photograph you are working from captures favorable lighting conditions. On our last trip to Charleston in November 2016, I intentionally wanted to photograph scenes in morning or late afternoon light, so that the shadows would be longer and stronger. The shadowy dark areas help make the light areas all that much lighter and brighter and vice versa.  

I took this one particular scene of Rainbow Row, which met my New Year’s resolution of seeking stronger lighting and started a large 40” by 30” canvas.  

While painting I spend quite a bit of time standing back and looking at it with a critical eye, imagining even stronger light filtering through the trees, across the sidewalk, and up the facades of the Rainbow Row, row houses. 

I have a long way to go with this Rainbow Row painting. I thought it might be interesting to show you it in the early stages so those of you who are interested can follow my progress. I have a vision of where I want to take it, which is half the battle. The other half of the battle is getting there! 

Here is a detail pic of the central focus of the painting after the first day. I'm working alla prima (wet on wet) but will go back and tweak it all. Working wet on wet allows you to soften edges and create a less sharp image.

Here is an overall pic after the first day. I started the painting by painting in the area around the woman and her dog. Then I started to work in some darks on the right side, which is actually where the light is coming from. I also started going vertical on the left half of the painting to block in some of the Rainbow Row, row houses.

Here is my downtown Charleston painting after day 2. I'm still filling in blank space. Developing some of the shadows on the sidewalk. Working in more darks in the trees on the right side of the painting. I'm finding myself enjoying this painting because of the many elements involved; perspective, lighting, color, and the little bit of activity on the sidewalk, which adds some life to the scene.

After a bit of a break, I'm finally back working on this Charleston painting. I have a long way to go and haven’t been able to put all that much time into it. I'm continually working on developing the lighting and I'm getting ready to start painting in the features of each row house, in this Rainbow Row scene.

My original drawing on the canvas was a simple one. In order to help create a somewhat looser painting, I decided to forego my usual detailed under-drawing. Even though this makes the painting process harder, it is also more freeing. It feels more like I’m painting plein air (outside on location) and evokes a pure painting aspect that I tend to lose a little when working with a tight, detailed drawing.  

Painting in the buildings on the left without a detailed drawing has it’s challenges. Freehanding long vertical lines and eyeballing strong perspective are a couple of them. Again, standing back and looking at it with a critical eye helps me correct areas during the painting process.

In the end I wanted to also create an overall sense of Impressionism.  The desire to forego a detailed drawing was a conscious decision, believing that I would more likely create a painterly painting by doing so. 

Please check back sometime soon if you’re interested in seeing how this painting progresses from here. Will the lighting stand out?  Will the Impressionist qualities create the image I envisioned when I was staring at the blank canvas? Other than the lighting, what made me choose this particular scene?  I’ll analyze my finished work in a follow-up blog.  

Thank you as always for your interest in my art and my photography!  Please feel free to leave a comment or question below. 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

The Holy City ~ Charleston!

When we were in Charleston, SC, over Christmas, it was the first time we had been there in years. We were walking up Meeting Street after visiting a few art galleries and as we approached Broad Street a wondrous, white, architectural masterpiece on the corner towered toward the heavens. I stood in amazement admiring the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.

It is the oldest church edifice in Charleston, opening its current location in 1761!  Many houses of worship grace the skyline in Charleston. Because of its acceptance of people from all faiths and its practice of religious tolerance, Charleston became known as the Holy City.

I knew I wanted to paint the St. Michael’s Church the minute I saw it.  I took a number of photographs of it that day from a variety of views along Meeting Street.  This particular view I liked the most, with the church centered between the colorful buildings and the street lined with palms trees. The sun was strong, coming from overtop the buildings, highlighting one side of the steeple and placing the other in strong shadow.  

The Holy City   by William R. Beebe, 10 x 12, oil on board, $1800 

The Holy City by William R. Beebe, 10 x 12, oil on board, $1800 

The painting is a small one 10” by 12”. I knew I couldn’t get all of the detail in on such a small painting, so I thought I’d have some fun with it and work on lighting and color. I used bold colors to create strong lights and darks.  

I’m sure it is the first of many paintings I’ll do featuring the St. Michael’s Church.  I can visualize painting it on a large scale. I would also enjoy painting a rooftop look over the city with the steeple featured prominently against the water in the distance.  

Once we move there I’ll be all over town with my camera searching for creative perspectives of downtown Charleston. I’m considering painting another popular and well-known location in town next, the Battery.

I hope you like my painting The Holy City.  It will take a couple of weeks to dry and then it’ll get two coats of varnish, a Larson Juhl frame, and it will be ready to go!

Thanks for your interest in my art and for taking the time to read my journal.  Please check back soon to see if the Battery is 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

Colors of the Rainbow ~Rainbow Row, Charleston, SC

“The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by…” are words from the song What a Wonderful World. So too are trees of green, skies of blue, people shaking hands… As I painted my first painting of Charleston, SC, entitled Colors of the Rainbow I couldn’t help but hear the song in my head and think how fitting.  

Colors of the Rainbow    by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, oil on board, $2000

Colors of the Rainbow by William R. Beebe, 12 x 12, oil on board, $2000

Rainbow Row is an historic stretch of 13 colorful Georgian style row homes on East Bay Street in Charleston. Painted in pastel Caribbean colors the stretch of homes is one of the most photographed locations and popular tourist destinations in downtown Charleston.  

Since I love color and charming architecture, I thought my first painting of Charleston should be a painting of Rainbow Row. I know some might find it cliché and an uncreative choice but I would have to kindly disagree. The row of 13 homes creates a wide horizontal setting. I chose to square off a section and focus in on the roofline from a unique perspective.  
It is depicted on a sunny day at Christmas time, with a Crepe Myrtle holding onto its fall colored leaves. The tree on the left has lost its leaves, while one of the large, old trees along the street creates a nice, green canopy for the tourists going by.  

I first drew a relatively detailed and exact drawing on a gessoed hardboard.  As I took the painting through a path towards realism, I knew in the end I would break down the hard edges and push it towards Impressionism.  

Drawing of    Colors of the Rainbow    by William R. Beebe

Drawing of Colors of the Rainbow by William R. Beebe

In the end, I feel it makes a more interesting painting with the painterly touches of added texture and colors.  

I hope you like Colors of the Rainbow. With a future move to Charleston in our plans, I’m hoping to paint many more scenes of Rainbow Row along with endless other street scenes, garden scenes, water and marsh scenes. Charleston is a painter’s paradise, or at least this painter’s paradise, and I welcome the inspiration!

Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. Please check back soon to see what’s on the easel next!