Flowers in the Foyer ~ Fragrant and Welcoming!

Thinking back on happy memories of spending Mother’s Day with my mom, I thought it might be nice to post one of my floral paintings in her memory, since we usually bought her flowers or azaleas, which she loved.  

Flowers in the Foyer by William R. Beebe

Flowers in the Foyer by William R. Beebe

This painting has special meaning, because it is a commission I did years ago for dear friends.  Their elegant entrance to their beautiful home was almost always fragrant with fresh cut flowers, welcoming all who entered the foyer.

Looking back on this piece, I remember enjoying the challenges of perspective, tackling the intricacies of the oval inlaid table and the oriental carpet, developing some lighting touches, and most of all working on softening edges.  

I wanted the overall work to have an Impressionist feel to it, which at the time was the beginning of a move away from a concentration on realism for me.  The owners of the home love spending time in the South of France and much of their art is Impressionistic in nature.  I loved reproducing the Impressionist painting on the yellow wall in the background.  It was well lit with a brass painting light and softened by cast shadows.

The dining room in the upper left of the painting had outside light shining through the bay window, casting shadows of the window panes on the white mantel and resulting in a diffused light throughout the room.  

I’m sure it’s difficult to see in this picture, but I added some fun touches like shine on the hardwood floor and candlesticks.  Touches of light on the crystal chandelier added a little sparkle.  

I hope this Mother’s Day brings, if not flowers into your home, some fond memories back to all who have had the best mom, like I had.

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche or Paint Flowers! Or Do They?

Look what I’ve become!  I love quiche.  My only problem with ordering it is that the portion size is always too small and it usually comes with a side salad.  I would prefer a manly size piece along with a pint of ale.  I also love to paint flowers but don’t tell anyone. :-)

When we bought our nearly 200 year old house in downtown Camden, ME, along with it came my own little Giverny.  Like Monet (but on a much smaller scale) I found myself surrounded by beautiful gardens and blooming trees.  I would look out the front window (my studio) and see the daffodils in the spring along with pink and white peonies standing tall against our white picket fence.  The peonies were so beautiful, one time I looked out and a lady that lived up the street felt the urge to cut an entire bouquet for herself to take home and enjoy!  It was premeditated as she had her scissors in hand.

Occasionally, I would take a coffee break from painting and wander downstairs into our living room to gaze through the picture window.  It was one of my favorite views in the house.  Colorful tall Hollyhocks would catch my peripheral vision as I took in the annual beds on either side of the old stone steps that lead down to our greenhouse and our perennial beds.  Beyond were two church steeples that for me made the view serene. 

On some of these occasions, I would see our 6 foot tall gardener and friend Anna in the middle of the perennial bed with her arms in motion and seemingly talking to herself.  I would always laugh when I realized that she was talking to my 5 foot tall wife Jen, who couldn’t be seen among the phlox.

Other times, I would see tourists meandering down our driveway to take pictures of the perennial flowers in bloom, continuing on into the yard like they lived there. 

Surrounded by hostas, daylilies, beds of impatiens, rose bushes, extensive perennial beds, purple lilac trees etc… I guess it was only a matter of time before I started painting flowers.  One day we were at a good friend’s house and I noticed a beautiful floral still life print on her wall.  When I examined it closer I was surprised to see that it was a Renoir!

I wasn’t aware of Renoir’s magnificent floral still-lifes.   Renoir must have been inspired on his frequent visits to his good friend Claude Monet’s house, Giverny, for he produced some of the most spectacular florals that I’ve ever seen.   I was so inspired that I called up Anna and asked her to put her creative genius to work to create a floral arrangement for me to paint. 

Next thing I knew I was painting flowers!  Being a very slow painter, I quickly realized I had a limited time before all of the flowers shriveled up.  I chose a 30” by 40” inch board to give the piece some grandeur.  Between the short lived life of cut flowers and the sizeable scale of the board, it created an hour glass effect.  I took photos for backup but I sketched and painted as fast as I could in order to work from real life three-dimensional flowers and not two dimensional photographs. 

Still Life with Plates.jpg

It was my first floral still-life.  It was inspired by Renoir, created by Anna and a joy to paint.  We ended up buying a print of Auguste-Pierre Renoir’s floral entitled, Spring Bouquet, and it hangs in our guest bedroom.  Seeing his masterpiece daily, makes me want to try again for even though I’m happy with the painting, I know I can do better!

So if you must, call me a quiche eating artist who paints flowers.  It sounds like a great way to spend a day!