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! ☹

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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! ☺

Catching a Dream ~ Dream Catchers!

Last night, Jen and I were invited to attend the 20th annual fundraising dinner for Dream Catchers.  We weren’t familiar with the organization but it sure sounded like a worthy cause. Special needs children and adults learn to ride horses, resulting in tremendous therapeutic gains both psychologically and physically.

The attire was “country chic” and the sit down dinner was held in a large riding barn with a dirt floor.  Our sponsor for the evening, David, a good friend and one of the most generous guys I know, got to wear his black, alligator cowboy boots and his wife Dawn looked every bit the cowgirl.  Jeans with bolo ties and cowboy hats made everyone a cowboy.  Unfortunately, all I had to dress the part was a denim polo shirt with the pony logo.  Jen got rid of my roach killer cowboy boots long ago!  ☺

Through the years I haven’t painted as many horses as I thought I would. They are such beautiful animals, full of personality and smarts.  Here are a few detailed shots of horses that I’ve painted over the years. People are passionate about their horses just like we are about our two little shih-tzus.  Obviously, the special needs children/adults, whom we watched ride last night with big smiles on their faces, love the horses and riding too.    

Countryside Chateau   by William R. Beebe

Countryside Chateau by William R. Beebe

Cotswolds by Horseback   by William R. Beebe

Cotswolds by Horseback by William R. Beebe

Riding Alongside the Little Eye Stream, Cotswolds  , by William R. Beebe

Riding Alongside the Little Eye Stream, Cotswolds, by William R. Beebe

Point to Point  , by William R. Beebe

Point to Point, by William R. Beebe

The Dream Catchers organization is helping provide a wonderful service and opportunity to these participants and their families.  They raised quite a bit of money last night, but the organization has operational costs of $700,000 a year.  If you can help in any way, and have a little cowboy or cowgirl in you, or can empathize with these children’s life challenges, please check out Dream Catchers website and give what you can.

From Herefords to Holsteins ~ Bucolic Landscapes

Part of what I have found interests me with my American Landscape series is the life that a bovine or two adds to a country scene.  In my Grazing Alongside Spring Creek painting, I feature a small herd of cattle including a Hereford and Black Angus.  I just completed this oil painting on board, entitled The Watering Hole, which features a number of black and white Holsteins.

The Watering Hole, 10 x 12, Oil on Board by William R. Beebe

The Watering Hole, 10 x 12, Oil on Board by William R. Beebe

On my last excursion to rural farm country, I rounded several bends, coming across several breeds I was unfamiliar with.  I’m anxious to research the different breeds and to paint them in their surroundings.  

As I photograph the large bovines, I notice the personality in their faces.  I get a kick out of how they start coming over to me when I approach.  Watching them chew their cud, swish their tails and graze captures my attention to the point where it’s hard for me to move on.  Whether it’s a Hereford, Angus, or Holstein, I’m enjoying painting them thoroughly and I believe they add life, personality and interest to what otherwise might be a lovely but somewhat lifeless landscape.

I hope you enjoy this quiet setting of the Holsteins by the willow and watering hole.  This bucolic landscape was one where I could have spent hours observing the cows, studying cloud formations and observing how changing light would affect shadows and color.

At the same time, as I took in the moment, I was reminded of a funny memory from many years ago, when my good friend, my brother and I were fishing at a farmer’s pond.  One of the cows seemed to take a liking to my friend and cornered him at one end of the pond, standing in the water with only a small evergreen shrub leading interference.  My friend would move one way and the cow would move with him.  He ended up dropping his fishing pole and eventually made a mad dash for the fence!  ☺

So this painting has a double meaning to me.  The captured moment is of tranquility, without the disturbance of man.  But in my mind, I can visualize my friend in the far right corner of the pond, standing in the shallow water in his waders with a large cow, full of “personality” cornering him and daring him to come out from behind the shrub.  ☺

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.