We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebekka Beacham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebekka, where are you from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I grew up in Metro-Detroit, the home of Motown and where Cider Mill season is an annual event. It was also an area full of diversity that I took for granted. I was constantly surrounded by people and ways of life different from my own. Raised a Christian, I never thought twice about having the high holy days off from school every fall. I had “aunts” and “uncles” with strong African American backgrounds and neighbors from Central America whose children had names that literally rolled off the tongue. There were so many cultures to absorb and celebrate in my everyday experience.
As an adult, I have traveled a bit and lived in places ranging from Salt Lake City, Utah to Nicosia, Cyprus, the capital city of a small island nation in the very eastern Mediterranean. Whether in Atlanta or walking the streets of Brussels, I was always able to find someone or something that reminded me of home. Because of that, I was able to take the sense of home with me wherever I went. Though I will always claim Detroit as my point of origin, it shaped me in a way that I am able to move around and not feel disconnected to my surroundings.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Whenever I work an art show, I will have at least one person look me in the eye and proclaim, “Watercolor is so hard! I can’t ever get it to work!” And I giggle, because while I understand their qualms, the fluid, finicky nature of watercolor is what I love best about it. There’s a magic to watercolor you don’t get with other mediums. It has a mind of its own that you have to learn to trust and work with. Every so often I will try something in acrylic and grow frustrated by the paint remaining exactly where I put it on the surface, rather than blending and morphing into something else.
I first started my business, see what i sea design, while living in Cyprus with the tag line “Fine Art and Paper Goods.” Ten years later, that is still the heart of what I do. I have always loved paper, putting a pencil to it, writing a list, or drawing a doodle. When residing in the small island nation, stationery products that met my exacting standards were scarce, so I began making them. That’s where this all began. With a desire to make a beautiful thing I could use every day.
That’s still my goal. To make the everyday beautiful, to bring joy and light to the mundane. To make a notepad so cheery that the weighty list on it seems less daunting, to make a tote bag so charming that the errands it assists become less overwhelming. It’s finding joy in the simple and that brings me great pleasure.
When I was living in Atlanta, I had a friend who was a realtor who asked me to paint house portraits as closing gifts for her clients. Prior to this, most of my work had been focused on florals and objects. Homes were a step into the unknown. Since then, house portraits have become the norm for me. Being trusted with memories of places and time feels sacred to me and I do not take the honor of the trust placed in me lightly. I try to infuse the paintings with the stories shared with me, of holidays and childhoods. Of garages just barely big enough or the roses Mom planted on her anniversary. It’s all of those everyday things that I cherish, and fear will be overlooked.
This year, my house portraits got a more focused approach as I did a series of room studies. This was a new challenge that lit a fire in me. I had been accustomed to details coming in the form of landscaping and cloud formations. Zeroing in on wallpaper patterns and forms of pottery was a whole new experience. With house portraits and landscapes, I could use a lot more of my impressionistic training, utilizing small strokes and dabs. For the rooms, I needed to learn how to use larger movements and more solid washes of color. It was such a wonderful experience to capture my love of the everyday in tight focus and tell a story through a room.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A visit to metro-Detroit, in my mind, should never be devoid of a visit to The Henry Ford. The expansive campus comprises Henry Ford Museum, where you’ll find the history of the automobile on display not twenty feet from a full-size airplane hanging over your head. Though I am a far cry from an engineer, the sheer scope of imagination to create the objects we use every day never ceases to amaze me.
During the warmer months, a visit to the outdoor portion of the Henry Ford is an absolute must. Greenfield Village is a living history museum with buildings gathered from across the country. Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park is there as well as the Wright Brother’s family bike shop. I go for the gardens, the glassblowing, and to watch the potters hard at work.
After that, visiting downtown is a must. Rich in art-deco architecture, it’s a cultural experience just viewing it through the car windows! I love going to a Tigers game downtown or visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts for the Diego Rivera murals.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a shout out to my five-year-old daughter. She inspires me daily and has given me not only the inspiration but the motivation to dig deeper into my art and career. She is the kindest soul I know and always there with a hug when you need it.