Lowcountry Evening Light ~ Low Horizons Lead to Big Skies!

In my latest painting, entitled Lowcountry Evening Light, I set out to capture the elements I find captivating when experiencing the beautiful marshland along the South Carolina coast. With very little vegetation other than tall bladed spartina grass, marshes create a flat horizon line, often leading to an expansive view of up to 180 degrees. This simple landscape characteristic leads to big skies, often dramatic at that!

Lowcountry Evening Light    by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, Oil on canvas, $5000

Lowcountry Evening Light by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, Oil on canvas, $5000

I’ve become increasingly interested in studying cloud formations and the effect time of day has on them. This interest has developed from becoming more familiar with the Lowcountry marshes. I love the expansive nature of marsh scenes and the endless possible combinations of cloud formations and ever changing tidal marshes.

Lowcountry Evening Light has the sun descending behind a band of dark clouds. The sun remains strong, casting rays of light over the marsh and up into the sky. The clouds closest to the sun have strong highlights along the upper edges. Clouds lighter in color are the consequence of more direct sunlight (not backlit).

Ironically, this tranquil scene was started before Hurricane Florence and finished just after it. The Lowcountry was in severe danger of bad flooding. This time we lucked out and the storm turned inland instead of down the coast. Sadly, North Carolina was hit hard. We are keeping the victims of the storm in our prayers.

Thank you as always for your interest in my art and for reading my journal. 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

Sundown on the Marsh ~ mixing up the palette!

I recently painted a marsh scene on a bright sunny day, with a blue sky and blue reflections in the water. That time of day provided strong reflections and contrast between the white cumulus clouds and the blue sky.  A collector, who liked the painting, said “can you paint me a similar marsh scene but late in the day?”  

The setting sun disappears beyond the horizon, but its rays still light up the sky and casts a glow over the marsh.  Sundown on the Marsh is that moment when day transitions into night. It’s a quiet reflective moment, where the winding waterways lead one off into the distance, pondering what tomorrow will bring.  

Sundown on the Marsh    by William R. Beebe, 14 x 11, Oil on board, SOLD

Sundown on the Marsh by William R. Beebe, 14 x 11, Oil on board, SOLD

I used a transparent red-oxide paint as an undercoating for most of the green areas. Letting the undercoat show through in areas created an appearance of warmth from the setting sun touching the tops of the tree line and the tall marsh grasses.  

Darkening clouds, with just a little bit of slate-blue sky helped to create the overall darkness cast over the marsh grasses. Naples yellow light and white were mixed to create the yellowish glow in the sky, resulting from the remaining rays of light from the setting sun.  

This painting was about creating a mood. Even though the sky is dramatic it is not stormy or brooding. The vibrant summer green grasses are dulled by the loss of light, with touches of stronger color in the center of the painting as the grasses recede closer to the sun.  

I enjoyed this opportunity to paint my clients vision. Sundown on the Marsh is a scene I’ve wanted to paint. I’m enjoying painting marsh scenes very much, and will be constantly on the lookout for Lowcountry marsh scenes to paint in the future.  

Thank you for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. I am now on Instagram so if you’re not on Facebook but would like to follow what I’m up to, I post pics on a regular basis of what I’m working on. 

I’m finishing up another downtown Charleston painting and will be posting that in the near future and writing a blog about it in the next week or so. Thanks again y’all!  ☺


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

Lowcountry Reflections ~ big picture, small painting!  

On our first trip to Huntington Beach State Park at Pawley’s Island, SC, I was hoping to see some Roseated Spoonbills and a variety of other birds. I left my camera bag in the car with several lenses and set out with my 400mm zoom lens on our birding outing. 

We walked along the causeway and I had a field day photographing a variety of birds, zooming in on them and capturing them in flight and in their natural habitat, the salt marsh.  

After a period of time we began to take in the beauty of the marsh right in front of us. The tall grasses were a colorful green and the tidal creek meandered off into the distance in a graceful curve, with several small islands of grass dotting the open water.  

Lowcountry Reflections    by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $850

Lowcountry Reflections by William R. Beebe, 11 x 14, Oil on canvas, $850

Then a wall of bright, cumulous clouds formed against the blue sky and the reflections in the water became strong. The marsh scene I had been looking to paint was right in front of us! One problem, my zoom lens couldn’t take it all in. My regular lens was way back in the car, about a half-mile away!  

It was in the 90’s and we were on pavement. Would it be worth it to run back to the car and get my lens just to get this marsh shot??? Would the cloud formation change and all that effort be for naught???  I had recently started jogging again after many years and thought to myself, I think I can make it.  ☺

Well I made it there and back, all the while thinking why didn’t I just take my camera bag in the first place?  ☺  The cloud formation was even stronger when I returned and I took numerous pics hoping to capture at least the essence of the “big picture”.  

This painting, entitled Lowcountry Reflections is on a relatively small canvas, 11” by 14”. I worked in my studio from my photos, recalling how big the sky seemed, with the wall of clouds receding off into the distance along with the meandering tidal creek. The sky was a beautiful blue, the grasses a summer green with some warm brown grasses remaining from early spring, and the colors were all reflected on the glassy surface of the shallow water.  

Lowcountry Reflections   (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Lowcountry Reflections (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

I can see why so many artists paint the Lowcountry marshland. Depending on the time of day and lighting, such simple scenes can evoke so many emotions, provoke deep thought and hopefully lift one’s spirits.  

I hope you like my painting Lowcountry Reflections. I enjoyed painting it, even though I did have to run back to the car to capture it. ;-) Thanks as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art. 

I’ve already started working on my next downtown Charleston scene.  Can’t wait to paint my next marsh painting, maybe on a larger scale. I also have another Shem Creek painting in mind!  

If you’d like to comment below, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again!  


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

 

Reworking a Painting ~ Should I or shouldn’t I?  

I would say that the great majority of paintings I produce I am still happy with over time. I always question could I have done better? And there are some paintings that I look back on that I would love to take a brush to! :-) I’ve only done it a few times over the years. Some I’ve improved and a few have ended up in the trash!  

For a number of years I’ve been questioning whether I should rework Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh. The warm tones I used to evoke the sensation of permeated sunlight ended up bothering me. I would look at the tall grasses and think they needed to stand out more. The sky wasn’t bright enough.  

I always questioned whether or not I should add a bird or two to add some life to the painting. After all, the scene is of one of the most popular bird refuges in the country, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  

Now that we are living in the Lowcountry, I am a frequent visitor to wetlands where I witness herons and egrets almost on a daily basis. I have studied and photographed them always with a painting in mind. 

The other day I decided it was time to liven up Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh and paint some birds into the scene. I pulled it out of storage and studied it. I could easily envision a couple of Great White Egrets chasing each other low along the water. So I ended up “taking the brush to it”!  

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh    by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, $6600

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, oil on canvas, $6600

I added some strength to the blue in the upper sky, put touches of pale Ultramarine blue on the underside of the clouds picking up the reflection of the water color. I quickly saw the warm pall start to lift. Next I reduced the amount of yellow-ochre in the dried grasses and went more with Raw Sienna, Naples yellow, and white.  

When I painted in the two Great White Egrets it added the life I thought the painting was lacking. 

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh   by William R. Beebe, detail shot Great White Egrets

Tall Grasses on the Salt Marsh by William R. Beebe, detail shot Great White Egrets

Did I make it better? I left it on my easel for a few days, frequently taking peeks to try and get multiple first impressions (so to speak). It seems to have passed the test for me.  I look at it now and it takes me outside to a place where I would want to be.
  
Here is the original painting and the backstory. I would love to hear what you think and if you agree. 

Thank you as always for reading my journal and for your interest in my art and photography!  Please check back soon to see and read about a small merganser painting I just completed.   


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