Beau pursued his artistic career with fervor. He enrolled in the classes at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design. He studied with Stanton MacDonald-Wright, whom he credits with teaching him how to portray action in paintings. In 1921, he moved to 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. She arranged for a special fellowship which enabled Beau to pursue his graduate studies in Europe. Reluctantly, in 1925, Beau set sail for London, leaving behind his wife Dorothy and their two small children. He would be abroad for nearly two years.
The Slade School of Art at the University of London was one of the finest art schools in the world. There Beau studied under many famous masters including Sir Russell Flint, Frank Brangwyn and Augustus John...all Royal Academicians. Beau chose portraiture as his specialty, though he also trained in mural and watercolor painting, lithography, etching, and sculpture. Evenings, he would sketch at London's Municipal School of Art, practising the day's lessons. The aspiring artist lived in comfort at the chic Savage Club, where a family friend had provided him with a guest membership. There he met many distinguished members, including the famous Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen and British Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson.
Arriving at the club one evening, Beau encountered the very formal doorman saluting him and proclaiming, "A letter from Royalty, Sir! A letter from Royalty!"5 Surprised by the doorman's demeanor, Beau accepted the envelope, decorated with the royal crest surrounded by formal black border, and discovered an invitation to view the royal art collection at Windsor Castle, hosted by the Chief Librarian. A few days later, dressed in his finest suit, he boarded a train bound for Windsor Castle.
With very little money to spare, he decided to travel third class. On his arrival, he chose to make his way to the castle on foot. He did not notice the chauffeured limousine waiting 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 for him. Embarrassed, Beau gave the excuse that he needed to exercise. The Librarian offered him morning tea preceding a 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 invited him to stay 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 accepted his invitation to take the Royal limousine, arriving just in time to catch the last train to London. Beau's adventure at Windsor Castle that day, and the private viewing of the Royal Art Collection, made an impression on his life, that he was never to forget.
In the winter of 1925-1926, Beau decided to extend his European studies and he enrolled in the Academy Julian in Paris. To fund these 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!"6 In addition to Hunt Diederich, Beau was able to study under several renowned teachers, including Jules Pages and Jean-Paul Laurens.
Beau lived in the apartment above the studio of Hunt Diederich in the Latin Quarter of Paris, on the Left Bank. Some of his days, when he was not working in the foundry for Hunt Diederich, he would take classes at the Academie Julian. On some evenings he would also sketch at the Academie Colarossi where he perfected his watercolor technique. In his free time he would study the great art collection at the Louvre. In a letter to Dorothy, he commented on his visits to the Louvre, "[it] is really a wearisome undertaking visiting, studying there...although of course so very interesting. I discover something different every time I go - today Rubens, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Corot, Messonier, Fragonard paintings. Michelangelo paintings and sculpture, these I had not seen before!"
In the summer of 1926, Beau departed Le Havre on a Cunard liner for New York. After an unsuccessful attempt to find an apprenticeship in New York, he did not have sufficient funds for his final passage to California. To solve his problem he signed on as a seaman aboard a cargo ship bound for California by way of the Panama Canal. When he finally arrived in Los Angeles, his family and friends celebrated his homecoming. On his return, at the invitation of Nelly Chouinard, he joined the faculty of the Art Institute where he taught during 1927-1928.
The late 1920s and early 1930s represent Beau's California's impressionist style. During this period, most of his works were executed in oil on canvas or board. Landscapes of mountain scenes, such as Arroyo Seco, and South Lake, High Sierras are influenced by his studies in Paris. These works illustrate Beau's early style, which ties him to the California plein airschool. Another example, The Little Mother, took first popular prize at the Long Beach Art Association's show in 1931. Over the years his style evolved and his subject matter expanded. His focus became portraiture and maritime art, and he began to emphasize watercolors, a more portable medium.