Being Drawn to the Water ~ Living near it and painting it!

What is it that draws me to the water causing me to want to live near it, experience it and paint it?  Is it that it’s in my blood, being a descendant of ship builders and ship captains?  Or is it from early childhood experiences growing up near the C & O Canal, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay?  

Maybe it’s the combination that draws me to the water like a magnet.  I must qualify that statement by admitting I have a tremendous fear of sharks; so I enjoy being near or on the water (in a boat), but not in the water.  The fear of going in the ocean is easily explainable by me having seen the movie Jaws in the 70’s, along with the fact that I tend to sink like a stone when swimming!  ☺

I discovered I’m not the only maritime artist with this quirky phobia.  When talking to a gallery owner one time about an accomplished maritime artist,  Vern Broe, I was surprised to learn that he too was afraid of the water, so much so that he wouldn’t even go out in a boat!  He painted boats all the time.  I figured he must be out there experiencing it first hand, but I was wrong.  

Even with my fear of the deep, I’ve been known to stand up on the front of a rubber-rafted motorboat or a small whaler under very inclement weather conditions, to photograph schooners in action.  In order to “get the shot” in the name of art, I’ve lived more dangerously than I would normally in my personal life.  ☺

So naturally, water has become a big part of my art.  You might even call it a common thread that links my different genres.  With my landscapes I tend to seek out subjects with a stream running through it, or a pond with reflections, or a marsh with cattails.  Many of the bird paintings I do are of shorebirds with water in the background.  My maritime work depicts a range of waters from flat calm to rolling seas.  

My most recent painting of pelicans was inspired by one day having watched three Brown Pelicans buzzing along the crest of a wave, during rough surf at the beach.  It wasn’t just the birds that captivated me.  The water was a huge part of what called me to paint the scene.  

Water isn’t usually easy to paint.  It’s always challenging, and can be frustrating, maddening, and cause you to doubt yourself.  On the other hand it can be most rewarding when you hear someone say, “I can just smell the salty sea air!”

So I thought I’d share some close-ups of some of the different styles I’ve used to paint water over the years.  Most of the waters were painted without knowing in advance how I was going to attack it when I started.  Half of the fun is being creative, allowing yourself to be surprised by the paint!  Which style is your favorite???

Storm Approaching   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36,  oil on board, Artist's collection

Storm Approaching  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36,  oil on board, Artist's collection

Offshore Challenge  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 24 x 28, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Offshore Challenge (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 24 x 28, oil on board, AVAILABLE

The Lettie G. Howard   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe,  24 x 24, oil on board, AVAILABLE

The Lettie G. Howard  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe,  24 x 24, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Flags Abound  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe,  24 x 30, oil on canvas, SOLD

Flags Abound (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe,  24 x 30, oil on canvas, SOLD

Camden's Inner Harbor   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, oil on canvas, SOLD

Camden's Inner Harbor  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, oil on canvas, SOLD

The Dog Days of Summer on North Haven   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 11 x 15, oil on board, SOLD

The Dog Days of Summer on North Haven  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 11 x 15, oil on board, SOLD

Upon Reflection   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 20 x 30, oil on board, SOLD

Upon Reflection  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 20 x 30, oil on board, SOLD

Standing Guard   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 12 x 18, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Standing Guard  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 12 x 18, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Snowy Egret Slow Walking   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 10 x 12, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Snowy Egret Slow Walking  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 10 x 12, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Two Rivers Heron   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Two Rivers Heron  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, AVAILABLE

Sunlit Pelican Basking in the Glow   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, SOLD

Sunlit Pelican Basking in the Glow  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, SOLD

Sunrise Over the Salt Marsh   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE

Sunrise Over the Salt Marsh  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE

Semur-en-Auxois, France   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 20 x 24, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE

Semur-en-Auxois, France  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 20 x 24, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE

Venice by Gondola   (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 30 x 36, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE

Venice by Gondola  (DETAIL SHOT), by William R. Beebe, 30 x 36, oil on canvas, AVAILABLE


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

Seasons of Williamsburg ~ Featuring My American & European Originals!

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I’ve been enjoying painting small, American and European landscapes over the last couple of years.  Pastoral Virginia scenes and paintings of Italy and France have been some of my favorite subjects.  We’re excited about announcing our new partnership with Seasons of Williamsburg, an upscale gift shop located on Jamestown Rd. in Williamsburg, Va. 

It’s a one-stop shop for people looking to decorate a home, find a unique finishing touch, or to find the perfect gift for someone. 

 This Friday and Saturday, March 1st and 2nd, they will be having their Spring Open House, where my paintings will be unveiled.  If you are in the Williamsburg area, please stop into Seasons and treat yourself.

They will be displaying my paintings in their beautiful, one-of-a-kind gift shop.  The owners, Kendall and Kent, have a flair for showcasing antiques, floral arrangements, home and garden accents and gifts.  I am thrilled to have my work featured on their creative walls!

 In a few of my earlier blogs, I’ve mentioned about Highs and Lows in the art business.  This new relationship with Seasons is certainly a high!  

Below are a few of the paintings being shown.

Is that an Original? ~ Something for Everyone!

Soon after my work started selling and the prices of my originals went up, we decided that it would be a good idea to produce a number of limited edition lithographs of some of my originals.  I was only producing 10 to 12 originals a year and the price was unaffordable for many.  By producing edition sizes ranging anywhere from 100-600 prints, we could offer collectors a high quality representation of my work for between $75 and $125.  If I am lucky and the editions sell out then the value of the original goes up significantly for the collector of the original and for the lithographs. 

The lithographic process is always a challenging one and my wife and I are always fully involved. We pick the highest quality paper product, the best printer that we can find, and we travel to the printers on print day.   On print day a huge printing press is used for a lithograph, set up with my image and ready to print a test run for us.  It is always a little stressful because the printers are always looking to get the job completed quickly and we knit pick dust spots, analyze color saturation and work hard at creating the best possible representation of my work.  Once you give them the OK, the entire edition starts printing and there is no turning back. But it is exciting to see the prints rolling off the presses!

It’s always fun to bring out a new lithograph and to have a reasonably priced product to offer people who want to start collecting my work.

Another slightly higher priced product ($225, $450) that we offer collectors is a paper giclee reproduction print. Giclee (pronounced zhee-clay), which in French means sprayed, is a technology of a steady stream of one million microscopic ink drops per second directed on the fine art paper.  Top quality, heavy weighted watercolor paper is used.  Each print is printed one at time using this digital process.  Highly accurate printers are used and the final product is comparable to an original watercolor.  As with all prints the smaller the edition the more collectible, due to supply and demand.

A very popular product now is the canvas giclee.  Using the same digital technology as the paper giclee, the image of my painting is transferred onto a stretched canvas.  The finished product looks remarkably close to the original oil painting.  On my limited edition canvas giclees, I always embellish them with hand painted touches to make every individual canvas giclee one of a kind.  Once framed (no glass required) people really have to examine it closely to detect whether it’s an original painting or not!  They are considerably more expensive ($600, $800) but it gives the collector an excellent representation of the original painting. Each of my European Landscape giclees comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from the master artisan-printmaker we are working with on these prints. 

My website features the two categories of reproductions (Maritime and European Landscape) that are listed  under Reproductions on my homepage.  Thank you to all of you for your interest in my work.