Looking Back at Sixteen ~ The Signature Hole!

The 16th Green at Two Rivers Country Club   by William R. Beebe

The 16th Green at Two Rivers Country Club by William R. Beebe

The sixteenth hole at Two Rivers Country Club in Williamsburg, VA, is the course’s signature hole.  It’s a scenic par 5 that can be a pivotal hole in close matches.  Sometimes reachable in two, it will give up an eagle here and there.  It can be a good birdie hole, but it can also cost you a match, with water off the tee, out of bounds right, and lateral hazards down the left side.

I've played the course for over ten years and have many fond memories of finishing 15 and making the final turn across the road to 16, 17, and 18 along the water.  It’s a beautiful way to finish both a good round and a bad round. 

This golf hole study places the golfer on the seventeenth tee box, looking back at the sixteenth green.  It’s not the traditional way to paint a golf hole.  There’s no fairway; you can barely see the green marked by the red, front flag; and you’re looking from 17 back to 16. I picked the vantage point for several reasons.

One of the reasons is the aesthetics of the scene.  In other words, looking at the scene more as a landscape than a golf hole painting.  The combination of rocks along the river’s edge, the tall grasses, large waste bunkers, and the sculpted bunkers alongside the undulating green, all lead the viewer out to the point where Bald Eagles can be seen soaring overhead. 

Whether I was playing well or poorly, I would usually find myself at this location looking back and then scanning the river 180 degrees, taking it all in and appreciating my surroundings.  Many golf courses are located in some of the most scenic locations around the world including TRCC. 

So, it’s no wonder that an artist who loves golf would have the desire to paint a golf hole or two!  This golf painting is more personal in nature, full of memorable moments of wins and losses, of enjoying the view, of fighting the elements, and of camaraderie with good friends!

 

 

“Whether painting a sailboat, a unique architectural scene, a residence or a portrait, Bill captures the moment with exquisite detail and precision.”
— Charles & Julie Cawley

 

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!

Traveling the Back Roads with the Top Down!

On my way home from a quick visit to Lexington, VA, I thought that even though it was on the cool side, the T-bird top had to come off and I was going to take the long way home.  I took the long and winding roads, up Rte. 252 toward Staunton, and then on up to Harrisonburg.  Revisiting some of my favorite locations I mentioned in my Country Roads blog and looking for new inspiration.  

I turned what normally would have been an hour drive from Lexington to Harrisonburg, into a three hour drive, stopping every whipstitch to shoot the beautiful scenery.  Several eye-catching farms went by the wayside, with no place to pull over on dangerous curves in the road.  Others, I was able to stop in the middle of the road, hold my camera up over the windshield and blindly take pictures, hoping to capture the shot before another car would appear.  

I had read about the Dayton area, near Harrisonburg, being Mennonite farm country, so it was an enjoyable ride until I met with James Madison University’s graduation traffic!  The entire town was backed up, with police directing traffic.  Once I managed to get on 33 East, I traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed back toward Charlottesville and on to Williamsburg!

The trip was successful as I gathered quality new material for future paintings.  It also re-inspired me to finish several small landscapes that I had put on hold while working on a large waterfowl painting.  

This is one of the three paintings that I came home to, entitled Grazing Alongside Spring Creek.  It’s a scene that I discovered last spring in Rockbridge County, VA.  The Hereford cow is wading in the winding creek with a calf, contemplating crossing, while the big black Angus bull and two other calves graze the open field.  Spring is in bloom.  

Grazing Alongside Spring Creek by William R. Beebe

Grazing Alongside Spring Creek by William R. Beebe

I focused on creating a soft painting, with Impressionist qualities.  Even though the cows are big strong animals, the serenity of the scene blends them into the landscape.  The dark but airy woods in the background allow the blossoming trees to stand out, helping to balance the composition.  

I hope you see in this piece, what I felt when I was delightfully surprised coming around the bend.  I’ll be finishing up the other two landscapes in the near future; one is an historic old mill and the other features a number of Holstein cows grazing by a small pond and weeping willow tree.