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

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

Striking a Pose ~ Portrait of a Brown Pelican!

When my golfing buddy asked me if I would like to paint a commissioned portrait of a pelican for his wife’s surprise Christmas present, I was thrilled. One of our favorite birds is the Brown Pelican. I’ve taken thousands of photographs of them and have painted many pelican paintings. He said he’d like it to be all about the pelican, just his long face with no background distractions. I got a kick out of the fact that he loves pelicans so much that he would want a relatively large portrait of one in his home. We have a lot in common! :-)

After looking through all of my pelican pics, one in particular stood out from all the rest.

Striking a Pose   by William R. Beebe, 30 x 24, Oil on Canvas, Commissioned painting

Striking a Pose by William R. Beebe, 30 x 24, Oil on Canvas, Commissioned painting

This handsome Brown Pelican was posing on top of a piling, soaking in the sun, with no particular place to go. He was very aware of my camera and me and as he turned from side to side, casually preening, I was aware that he was watching me. I think he figured out that I was taking his picture and that someday I might paint him! :-)

I found him to be unusually striking, with the sun hitting the top of his yellow head and lighting up his dark brown belly feathers. He gave me his good side (I don’t think he had a bad side). :-)

In order to keep it all about the bird, I decided a white background would be sharp, create an almost illustrative look to the portrait and make the bird pop. The background has multiple coats of Titanium White paint covering the canvas. The pelican’s white neck feathers are outlined against the background and dappled with grays to create a feathery look.

This is a mature bird as identified by his colorings. The yellow head and white neck indicates that the pelican is a mature adult. Immature, or juvenile, Brown Pelicans are all brown in color.

Perhaps because he was so mature he wasn’t afraid of me. In the end, I left him right where I found him. He did, however, decide it was time to take a break from his modeling and laid down on top of the post and closed his eyes. The session was over but I got my shot!

This 30” by 24” painting entitled Striking a Pose, was so enjoyable to paint it inspired me to create a series of bird portraits. Henry the Great, The Great One, and Junior Blue are all a direct result of the inspiration drawn from having painted Striking a Pose.

I’m so grateful to my friend and client for giving me such a wonderful opportunity and for having the vision he had that day on the golf course.

I hope you all like Striking a Pose and hopefully see some of his remarkable personality traits and characteristics in the painting; handsome, mischievous, beguiling, and well groomed. :-)

Thank you for following my art, reading my journal and for all of your thoughtful comments on Facebook and Instagram. If you would like to comment on the painting I’d love to hear what you think! 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

Portrait of a Young Great Blue Heron ~ Creating a Likeness!

This bird is etched in my memory. It wasn’t the easiest of birds to photograph. In fact, you could say I went way out on a limb to photograph him. Actually, it was a very narrow long pier, maybe a foot wide that went out over the water about 20 feet to a tall piling at the end. The young Great Blue Heron was 15 feet beyond that on top of a stand-alone piling in the water.

I had my good camera with my zoom lens and I was dressed to go to dinner with some friends. I could get fairly close from the main dock, but if I were to walk the narrow part of the pier I’d be really close. This would require extremely good balance and some nerve! I wasn’t feeling confident and the consequences of falling were unthinkable. :)

If I succeeded in walking the plank and taking the close-up shots I desired, then I’d have to turn around and perform a balancing act all the way back. I chose to go for it! A few wobbles along the way led to wondering if I’d done the right thing. I made it to the end of the pier and proceeded to take dozens of pictures as the bird showed no sign of being afraid or of flying off.

In fact, it dozed off here and there while on one leg. I have pictures of him with his eyes closed, and also with his head tucked way into his body. The sun would shine a little brighter and he would wake up and look around. It appeared to be hunkered down for the evening.

The Great Blue Heron was a young bird, as indicated by his immature coat of feathers and color pattern. Young herons have a black/gray top of the head and an overall brownish/gray pattern to its neck and shoulder feathers. The large primary and secondary feathers have whitish tips to them. The upper beak in a young bird has dark grays and blacks for the most part.

My recent painting entitled The Great One is a good example of what a mature Great Blue Heron looks like in comparison to an immature bird like this one.

After holding onto the end piling and taking way too many pictures, I knew I had to leave to be on time for dinner. I inched my way back to dry land, one step in front of the other, heal to toe, praying the whole time that I didn’t ruin everything by falling sideways into the murky, brown saltwater.

I made it unscathed! I’ve always enjoyed looking back at my photographs of this handsome bird and recalling the efforts I made to get close enough to capture all of the detail in the bird’s feather patterns.

When I decided it was time to paint him, I knew I wanted to include as much detail as necessary to create a likeness. I wanted to be able to look at my painting and have it take me back to the end of that pier.

I enjoyed working on a large scale (24” by 36”), painting in the detail, and looking for subtle changes in color or feather patterns that help identify this particular bird.

I’ve decided to call this painting Junior Blue. He is the son of a Great Blue Heron, handsome, alert, and looks a lot like his father when he was of similar age. :)

Junior Blue    by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36, Oil on canvas,  $7200

Junior Blue by William R. Beebe, 24 x 36, Oil on canvas, $7200

Junior Blue   by William R. Beebe, head detail

Junior Blue by William R. Beebe, head detail

Junior Blue   by William R. Beebe, feather detail

Junior Blue by William R. Beebe, feather detail

Thank you for reading my journal and for following my art! I can foresee another bird portrait coming up in the near future, so please check back soon to see what’s next on the easel.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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