Choinard Art Institute, London and Paris: 1921 - 1932

Beau pursued his artistic career sporadically, but with fervor. He enrolled in classes at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design where He studied with one of his contemporaries, the well known modernist, Stanton MacDonald-Wright. In later years he would credit Stanton with teaching him how to portray drama and action in his paintings, a lesson that would become a trademark of his lifelong career. In 1921, Beau enrolled in the newly founded Chouinard Art Institute. The founding director of the Art Institute was Mrs. Nelbert Chouinard. Mrs.Chouinard identified Beau as a promising young student, and she arranged for a special fellowship which enabled Beau to pursue his graduate studies in Europe. Reluctantly, in 1925, Beau set sail for Europe by way of the Panama Canal, leaving behind his wife Dorothy and their two small children. He would live and study abroad for nearly two years.

The Slade School of Art at the University of London was one of the most reputable art schools in the world. There Beau studied under several distinguished masters including Sir Russell Flint, Frank Brangwyn and Augustus John...all Royal Academicians. Initially Beau chose portraiture as his specialty, although he also took courses in mural design, watercolor painting, lithography, etching, and sculpture. In the evenings, he would supplement his studies with drawing classes at London's Municipal School of Art, practicing the lessons he had been taught at Slade. Beau had the good fortune to be given a guest membership at the Savage Club in London. There he lived in comfort and at a reasonable cost. At the club he met many of its distinguished members, including the famous Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen and the famous retired British Field Marshall, Sir Henry Wilson, principal equerry to King George V.

Arriving at the club one evening, Beau encountered the very formal uniformed doorman saluting him and proclaiming, "A letter from Royalty, Sir! A letter from Royalty!" Surprised by the doorman's unusually respectful demeanor, Beau accepted the envelope, decorated with the royal crest and surrounded by a black border. Inside the envelope he found a formal invitation from Sir Henry inviting him for a private viewing of the Royal Art Collection at Windsor Castle, hosted by the King’s personal Librarian.

With very little money to spare, Beau decided to be prudent and travel by third class coach. On his arrival at Windsor, he decided to make his way to the castle on foot. He did not notice the chauffeured limousine waiting for him at the train station. When he arrived at the Castle he was met by the Chief Librarian who asked him why he did not arrive in the car which has been sent to pick him up. Embarrassed, Beau stammered the excuse that he “needed the exercise that brisk walking provided!” The Librarian smiled and offered him morning tea, followed by an extended grand tour of the Royal Art Collection. Enthralled by the vast number of magnificent paintings, lithographs and drawings, Beau lost track of time. His generous host accommodated him by inviting him to stay over for lunch and subsequently to join him for dinner as well. Late in the evening, Beau thanked his generous and patient host, and this time he accepted his invitation to take the Royal limousine down to the station, arriving just in time to catch the last train to London. This time he boarded the first class coach! Beau's adventure at Windsor Castle that day, and his private viewing of the Royal Art Collection, made an impression on him that he was to remember fondly for the rest of his life.

In the winter of 1925-1926, Beau decided to extend his European studies and move to France. He enrolled in the Academy Julian in Paris, an institution that had hosted a great many aspiring artists from California. To fund his extended studies, he accepted a position as a studio apprentice to the famous American sculptor Hunt Diederich. What adventurous young man could resist Paris in the Twenties? In a letter to Dorothy dated December 17, 1925, Beau explains, "It is a fine chance to study in Paris as Diederich's designs are just in my line...the work will be good for me...there will be forge work and welding and a chance to learn a good profession!" In addition to Hunt Diederich, Beau was able to study under several other renowned teachers Academie Julian, including Jules Pages and Jean-Paul Laurens.

Beau lived in the apartment above the studio of Hunt Diederich in the Latin Quarter, on the Left Bank in Paris. When he was not working in the foundry for Hunt, he would schedule his classes at the Academie Julian. And, on some evenings, he would also sketch and paint at the Academie Colarossi where he worked to perfect his watercolor technique. Each Sunday, admission to the Louvre Museum was free. Disciplined in his routine, he regularly visited the Louvre and systematically studies its massive world-class art collection. In a letter to Dorothy in 1926, he described his visits. "[it] is really a wearisome undertaking, visiting and studying there...although of course so very interesting. I discover something different every time I go - today Rubens, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Corot, Messonier, and Fragonard. Michelangelo paintings and sculpture, these I had not seen before!"

In the summer of 1926, Beau departed Le Havre on a Cunard liner bound for New York City. After an unsuccessful attempt to secure an apprenticeship in New York, he still had insufficient funds for his return passage to California. To solve his dilemma he signed on as a seaman aboard a cargo ship bound for California via the Panama Canal. When he finally arrived in Los Angeles, his family and friends celebrated his homecoming. And when he returned to his art school, Nelly Chouinard invited him to join the faculty of the Chouinard Art Institute. He taught in there in 1927 and 1928.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s Beau's painted in the California's impressionist style that he had developed in Paris. Most of these compositions were executed in oil on canvas or board. He preferred to paint “in plein air”, often selecting the harbor in San Pedro as a favorite location. But he also painted in plein air landscapes in the High Sierra Mountains as well as in the Arroyo Seco, accompanied by some of his friends from Chouinard. Works from this time period illustrate Beau's early style, and he submitted several of these paintings for the California Plein Air Exhibit in 1931. In the years that followed, his style evolved. Soon his subject matter expanded to emphasize maritime scenes, and he adopted watercolor as his primary medium.