WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE COLLECTION of hundreds of works by Tommy Beaver, it is hard to believe that he has no formal training. The award-winning artist left a career in furniture design and sales more than a decade ago and started collecting vintage artwork out of Florida. “I was attracted to the impressionist style. I thought I might do that; it doesn’t look all that hard,” recalls Beaver, whose father was an artist. Looking within himself for the way he wants to express his vision has created a beautiful brand of art, one that celebrates the beauty of the Lowcountry in a unique light and style.
As a young boy growing up in North Carolina, Beaver recalls that he did not pay that much attention to his surroundings. He does remember driving down the highway and looking at certain farmhouses, but not all the details. Even today, Beaver does not rely so much on painting a scene with precision but drawing on inspiration from within to express his vision of what he sees through his own eyes. “You can’t teach someone how to view through your eyes. A lot of art is what scenes you remember,” says Beaver, who today gets inspiration from the marshes and barrier islands in the Lowcountry, where he moved several years ago.
He recalls that the first painting he ever did was of a coastal dune scene that is tucked away somewhere. “I remember thinking, wow, that was really cool,” says Beaver. He notes that the painting itself wasn’t that great, but at the time he loved both the painting and the way it made him feel.
The first painting that he ever sold was of a marsh sunset about a dozen years ago. When asked if he has a favorite painting, he notes that he has about five or 10 works that he cherishes the most, including mountain scenes, city scenes of Charleston, and marshes and ocean scenes.
Beaver describes his style as loose impressionism, which he paints in broad strokes, using rich colors and an abundance of texture. He uses brushes and palette knives to create textural paintings that express the real-time mood and energy, and he pays laser-like attention to shadow and light. Beaver adores painting in the twilight of the evening—the glorious dusk sky and twinkling stars and moon. “I often get a scene in mind and then decide on the scale,” he says. He then lays down a base coat, pops on another layer of color, waits for a few hours and comes back to finish the details. Next, he stands back, looks at the painting to feel its true essence, walks away and comes back a little while later. His goal, he says, is to express himself as wholly as he can through his painting.
Today, Beaver lives and paints in McClellanville, South Carolina, where there is a surplus of solitude and natural beauty, two of the main ingredients that inspire his work. He adores painting the Blue Ridge Mountains and city scenes in Charleston, where he finds endless small villages, architecture and angles. He teaches art workshops in McClellanville and Georgetown, South Carolina. Beaver’s paintings can be found in private and corporate collections across the United States.
“My goal is to continue to paint the best I can,” he says. His philosophy: “Share your work with as many people as it resonates with.” *
Stacey Marcus is a Boston-based freelance lifestyle, luxury and travel writer. Her works have appeared in Art New England, Boston, Boston Common Magazine, Coastal Design Magazine, Charleston Style & Design, Modern Luxury Chicago, Ocean Home Magazine, Playboy.com, RD.com and many others. A lover of big words and little white dogs, Stacey’s biggest joys are found in life’s simple moments.