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.

Rendezvous With Ria ~ One in a million Ria DeWit!

After at least 23 years of being out of touch with our neighbor and artist friend Ria DeWit, my wife and I met up with her in her home in northern Virginia and went to Tuskies in Leesburg, VA for lunch! 

In one of my earlier blogs Still Lifes Solve Real Life Mystery about finding Ria on the artist roster of a prominent Leesburg gallery, I talked about her masterful still life paintings.  I also talked about how inspirational seeing her work for the first time was to me as a beginner painter. 

After all these years, we’ve been reunited.  We spent several hours getting caught up along with getting the tour of her nicely decorated home with some of her early Dutch style paintings, some of her son’s wonderful realistic paintings including a self-portrait, and some of her newest work. 

She has a sun room set up as a teaching studio where she instructs five or six students a couple of times a week. They are so fortunate to have found Ria as a teacher! She is self taught in the ways of the old Masters and a spot in her class is highly sought after!

Accomplishing all she desired with her still-lifes for the time being, she has moved on to painting elegant women with a variety of colorful headdresses in a somewhat illustrative style . 

Her work is inspiring.  It is magical to look at and is no doubt museum quality.

Whenever an admirer of her work tells her that her artistic talent is a “gift”, she cringes.  She sees it as a culmination of years of hard work and a dedication to her craft.  Well, whichever it is, there is something exceptional about Ria’s work!  She is one in a million. 

It was great to see Ria and see where her creativity is taking her.  She is having fun with her work and enjoying the process of working on something new and different.  After she gets her paintings photographed, I will post some photos of her new work as a follow up to this blog. 

Still Lifes Solve Real Life Mystery ~ What Ever Happened To….

Two doors down from my parent’s house growing up was the Railey house.  One of my best friends as a kid, Clay lived there.  Clay grew up and became a priest.  I grew up and eventually became an artist.  Not too long after my wife Jen and I were married my dad died.  The old neighborhood was changing.  My mom lived alone as a widow in our family home.  The Railey house turned over and an artsy couple with two children moved in.  The woman, Ria, I’m guessing was in her early forties and I was now in my mid-twenties.  She was a very attractive woman with a beautiful sounding European accent.  She would visit with my mom and eventually we all became good friends. 

I had been to art school, graduated with a Fine Arts degree and then decided to go back and get my accounting degree and was working in accounting.  My wife had started a salad dressing business that was taking off which also required a lot of my time. I unfortunately had little time for art.  One day Ria invited me down the street to her home to see a painting that she was working on.  I walked into my old friend Clay’s home and what was Clay’s basement, where we would pretend we were the Beach Boys banging on drums, was now Ria’s art studio.  I had no idea whether she was any good.  I did know that I liked Ria.  She wasn’t like anyone I had ever met before.  She was artistic, dressed with a flair and spoke beautifully. 

 There on her drafting table was a realistic oil painting of a cowboy on a horse that was so masterfully done it didn’t seem possible that someone had painted it.  She hadn’t quite finished the sky so it was obviously her unfinished painting.  I couldn’t believe how smooth it was, how rich the colors were.  How could she paint this? 

She enlightened me as to her use of masonite (painting on board) in order to develop a perfectly smooth surface.  It turns out that she had learned how to paint in the Netherlands, learning the traditional methods that the Old Masters employed.  She knew all the techniques and tricks of the trade that my teachers at the University of MD did not!  Most of my teachers encouraged Abstract Expressionism and other forms of modern art and discouraged Realism.  Turns out our neighbor down the street, Ria, was a master! 

We moved to Maine in 1990 and lost touch with Ria.  Last we heard, which was about 22 years ago, she was living in the mountains of North Carolina and she was painting her American Indian art.  We’ve often wondered over the years whether she was still painting and how she was doing etc…  Well this week we found out!

Jen was online researching new gallery representation when she discovered a gallery in Middleburg, VA.  Jen was in her office across the hall from my studio, perusing the artist roster when she yelled out to me that Ria DeWit was an artist at this gallery.  Could it be the same Ria that we knew???

Jen tracked down her phone number, called her and out of the blue we have reconnected with our long lost artist friend.  We both were so glad to find out that after over twenty years of being out of touch, she is well and is now painting masterful still life paintings.  Her son has inherited her gift and is also pursuing his art.  It was an emotional moment hearing Ria’s voice and knowing that this mystery had a happy ending. 

I tell this story because I want to share with you a few of her magnificent still life paintings. We are excited about seeing her upcoming show in Leesburg, VA in May and can’t wait to get all caught up with our long lost artist friend Ria DeWit