Page 146 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 146

                 “Artists who are in that group are of the highest caliber, so it’s an honor to have them vote me in,” she says. “You paint at different venues, then have a critique. When you’re with people you respect and admire, they hold you to a different standard.”
This recognition is especially meaningful given that Beam began painting in earnest less than 15 years ago. While walking along the beach one day, she saw an artist painting by the ocean. She said to herself: “I want to do that.”
Beam had always loved art and toyed with the idea of making it a career in high school. Though she ended up studying music in college and earned her PhD in music education, creative expression in paints remained a key part of her life.
Beam took to plein air with a passion. She and her husband, Steve, had moved back to this area in 2003, and the couple enjoyed rediscovering its history and unspoiled landscape. This fresh perspective became the subject matter for her painting.
Because of her interest in local history, it has dismayed her to find that some structures she once painted no longer exist. She points to a painting of Chester County’s historic Dilworthtown crossroads, with the old Arden Forge—now a renovated office building—as its focal point. “We are really documenting history when we paint plein air,” says Beam.
In March, a month-long solo show of Beam’s work is being held at the Station Gallery in Greenville, Del. The exhibition spotlights the cultural legacy of the du Pont family, including paint- ings done on location at Winterthur, Longwood Gardens and Mt. Cuba Center. Station Gallery co-owner Alice Crayton says Beam “has a good eye for picking out places that we go by every day and take for granted.”
Beam paints in a distinctive Impressionist style, capturing a barn or historic structure with just enough detail to make it recognizable. “In the beginning, you’re trying to figure out all the mechanics, the drawing, the colors,” she says. “When that becomes second nature, you’re painting from your feeling—how you see it. It’s almost like speaking to someone without words.”
Painters who inspire Beam in-
clude the Wyeths and those from the Pennsylvania Impressionist movement in and around Buck County, Pa. She recalls a humanities teacher who discussed the cultural heritage of the region and first exposed her to Andrew Wyeth’s art. Though it didn’t resonate at the time, she came to appreciate him more and more as time went on.
“As I learn more about art, I learn more about why he was so important,” she says. “What’s profound about
him is that he’s a draftsman extraordi- naire,” she says. “But if you look at his very intricate work, there’s also some simplification within it. He’s a great abstract artist.”
After Wyeth died, Beam painted a large landscape of the old mill
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