Painting Houses ~ with small brushes!

A few years ago, I was sitting around with some golfing buddies and one of the guys I didn’t know all that well asked me what I do.  I responded, “I’m a painter”.  To which he responded, “I need my house painted.  How much do you think it would cost?”  The other guys burst out laughing, and one friend chortled, “I don’t think you can afford him, he charges by the inch!”

Even though I have broken out the large brushes over the years and have actually painted houses, bedrooms, and barns, I prefer to use the smaller brushes and paint on canvas.  ☺ 

My latest commission has been a wonderful project.  A client decided it would be fun to surprise his wife with a painting of their beautiful home for her 50th birthday.  The home has a partial stone facade, with clapboard on the rest of the structure.  It has a stately double door entrance and nice finishing details. I decided in order to really capture the character of the house the stonework should be as close to the actual shape and color as possible. So, with the aid of my tiny brushes I painted in each stone.

Thanks as always for your interest in my work!

Commissioned painting by William R. Beebe

Commissioned painting by William R. Beebe

Down the Hatch! ~ I hear the soft shell crabs are good!

I just had a photographic experience where time-sequenced photography was a necessity to capture the entire story.  I like to call it “rapid fire”, or taking as many images as possible in a matter of seconds in order to capture an event.

Jen and I were birding one afternoon, and as I was photographing a Night Heron up in a tree, she walked further down the wharf on the hunt as my bird spotter! 

Next thing I knew she was calling “Great Blue Heron just off the dock!”  Waving madly for me to come, I knew it must be good!

There standing in shallow water, at almost low-tide, was a Great Blue wading predatorily toward me.  I took a sequence of photos that amazed me. 

The Great Blue stalked his prey, stretching long-necked and upright to get a birds-eye view, so to speak. ☺  One step, then two steps, next a flashing strike into the water clamping down on a poor Chesapeake Bay crab with his beak!  It wasn’t a little sand-crab.  It was more like the ones we used to enjoy at the Bethesda Crab House in Bethesda, MD, with a pitcher of beer after baseball games. ☺

I snapped pictures as fast as my camera would allow, wondering if I was getting it. Well I did and so did the crab! ☹


I marveled at my pictures of a rather large crab, being so easily devoured in a matter of seconds by a bird.  It was simply stunning to me.  Down the hatch it went!

It is fascinating, as I gather material for upcoming paintings, to study and observe nature so that I can better bring out the different birds’ personalities and characteristics in my paintings.  Although, I seriously doubt you’ll be seeing any of these images in my upcoming work! ☺

The Grand Opera House of Wilmington ~ Opulent and Grand!

In 1996, I had been working as the MBNA resident artist for a number of years; producing paintings of their various office buildings around the world (see Putting it all in Perspective).  All of my assignments were challenging, especially the aerials of headquarters in downtown Wilmington, DE, but as far as a single building goes nothing was more overwhelming than The Grand Opera House of Wilmington!

My assignment was to fly to Wilmington, DE, from Maine, photograph The Grand Opera House and produce a painting in time for the 25th anniversary of its major renovation in 1971. The Grand Opera House was originally built in 1871, and had gone through major league hard times, almost closing, but was fortunately saved by a group called the Grand Pioneers, who realized the historic importance of the building to downtown Wilmington.

I was excited about the opportunity to paint a building with such cultural and historical importance.  I remember walking through downtown Wilmington, turning a few corners in search of an opera house and there it was!  In front of me stood the most ornate building I believe I had ever seen, much less painted.  

My first thought was “Oh no, look at all of the little details!”  The plethora of architectural details including Masonic images, dental moulding, arched windows, columns, pediments, draperies were compounded by the cobblestone brickwork in the foreground.  I was overwhelmed with its magnificence.

I took as many photos as I could, from all different angles, up close and with a wide angle lens.  

I ended up painting a relatively large painting on board (26" x 28"), which enabled me to capture all of the tiny details.  I added touches of impressionism to the cobblestone sidewalk and dappled it with sunlight in order to soften the foreground, allowing the viewer to focus in on the grand façade.

The Grand Opera House, Wilmington Delaware by William R. Beebe.  SOLD

The Grand Opera House, Wilmington Delaware by William R. Beebe.  SOLD

Affirming the arts’ vital role within the community, The Grand Opera House mission statement reads: “The Grand Opera House entertains and engages its communities through exceptional, diverse live performances and educational outreach.”  Working at promoting a greater understanding of the arts, the opera house hosts performances that help lift the spirit.

Looking back, I remember this painting to be one of my most challenging, but also extremely rewarding.  The renaissance of this important, historic building of downtown Wilmington symbolizes how important the Arts are to humanity.  How through heroic joint efforts and seemingly insurmountable challenges, remarkably philanthropic people can keep ART alive!  I’m grateful I had the honor to paint The Grand Opera House!


Fall In! ~ Flyboys

I spotted a quiet cove along the shoreline of the sizable lake in Newport News Park, and pulled into the nearby parking lot.  I was planning on experimenting with different camera modes in order to produce clearer action photos of birdlife, hopefully ducks.  

As I walked onto the wooden footbridge that strategically crosses the wetlands, all hell broke loose, in a good way!  Like a squadron of fighter pilots, five mallard drakes came bombing their way into the cove, flaps up, quacking and squawking like crazy, readying themselves for a rough landing.  

By the time I had my camera rolling the mallards had landed.  It was then that I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.  Like a drill sergeant, the largest of the drakes took charge.  As the Top Gun, he was quacking out orders and the squadron of flyboys started falling in line.  I was clicking away as fast as I could.  Worried about my aperture and my shutter speed and my ISO, I was praying that my photos would turn out.  

The troops were obviously following orders.  This painting, which I just completed, entitled Flyboys, represents the beginning of the tailgate party the mallards had that early morning in the quiet cove.  They took over the place.  Top Gun Sgt. Drake took the boys around as if they were all in uniform going ashore looking for hens.  It was all quite the spectacle.  

Flyboys , by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, Oil on Canvas

Flyboys, by William R. Beebe, 30 x 40, Oil on Canvas

It was an amazingly magical moment for me with the dramatic reflections on the water, the action of rings around the leader, and the whitecap wakes produced by the mallards motoring quickly into formation.  The party was just beginning and the emerald headed ducks were all quite pleased with themselves.  

Fortunately, I caught it all on camera and I plan on painting several more canvases featuring this “band of brothers”.  I hope their personalities come through in this painting and that you feel the energy of the moment!

As I packed up my camera and was walking back to the car, two military fighter jets buzzed overhead, as if to tip their wings to their fellow flyboys!

Dedication:  On this Memorial Day, I dedicate this painting entitled Flyboys to all our men and women in uniform, past and present!