Capturing ‘a moment in time that is otherwise lost’ 

By on July 2, 2024

David Beal in his home studio. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle)
“Taler in a Summer Dress” painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle)
Interrupting Pie and Politics, painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle )
Mariah’s Rose: painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle )
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David Beal in his home studio. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle)
“Taler in a Summer Dress” painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle)
Interrupting Pie and Politics, painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle )
Mariah’s Rose: painting by David Beal. (Photo by Mary Ellen Riddle )
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The work of Kitty Hawk artist David Beal on display at Duck Town Hall

By Mary Ellen Riddle | Outer Banks Voice

As a teenager, David Beal got a letter from President Gerald Ford thanking him for his contribution to America’s Bicentennial after he painted an attention-grabbing series of patriotic symbols and images on a barn in Ohio. He spent a quarter century as illustrator, designer and art director for Hallmark. And his portraits hang in collections, including those in Truman State University and Kansas University.

The Outer Banks community can now view his work at the Duck Town Hall where the Kitty Hawk artist is currently displaying oil paintings though July 24. Visitors will have the chance to view portraiture, still lifes, and colorful scenes that highlight Beal’s skill, education, and dedication to years of creating.

It is all about telling stories through art for Beal, 65, who has spent a lifetime working as a fine art painter, and a commercial artist to feed his family of five and support his passion for portraiture.

What makes Beal’s heart sing when painting? “I think it’s just trying to capture that moment in time that is otherwise lost,” he says. “I’m hoping to grab something that has meaning in a beautiful way, in a positive way.”

Adding mystery into the paintings is also important. Beal learned from a professor at the Art Students League of New York, where art greats such as Georgia O’Keefe, Alexander Calder and Jackson Pollock studied, that every painting should have a blur in it—an unfocused area where the imagination of the viewer can go to work.

“If you tell the whole story, and it’s plain, and it’s all out there, and there’s nothing for the viewer to engage in, then you lose them,” says Beal, who enrolled in the League’s fine art program at age 18.

Beal achieved national attention at age 16 while working at Bob’s Nursery in Wadsworth Ohio. The owner of the property, who was leaving on a vacation, asked Beal to give a barn on the property a new coat of red paint. Beal says he “worked for two weeks filling the side of the barn with bi-centennial images of a drum and fife corps., the Statue of Liberty, the moon landing, flags and other patriotic subjects.”

Traffic got so bad on an adjacent highway as cars slowed down to watch him paint that the police had to direct it to the parking lot of the nursery. Beal hired friends to sell plants and manage the nursery as he continued to paint. The local newspaper articles made their way to national papers, and Beal received that letter of thanks from President Ford.

The centennial mural prompted other mural commissions including a large historical mural installation at the new Heritage Elementary School Library rotunda in Medina, Ohio.

Growing up in Medina Beal says, “My Aunt Kathleen took an interest in me when I was young.
“And she would take me to drawing classes with her.” He also had a fifth-grade teacher that would pick him up monthly on Saturdays, load easels and paint into the MG and go out into nature to paint birds and trees.

Beal spent 25 years as a commercial artist for Hallmark, covering seasons, special occasions, and holidays. As an illustrator, he created hundreds of greeting cards, calendars, posters and additional products. Armed with commercial art training from The Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus Ohio, Beal moved back and forth at Hallmark from the creative to the business side. He started as an illustrator and designer and then art director.

While at Hallmark, he worked on the side on portrait painting, his first love. Beal gained inspiration for his portrait storytelling by talking in person to his clients, taking in the local color of their home surroundings—hues, trappings, where they sat to feel comfortable and even the space where the portrait would be displayed.

Attending the Arts Students League in New York played a pivotal role in Beal’s growth as an artist. In his color theory class, he learned how to mix a wide range of skin tones. The class worked for two years practicing before students were allowed to paint on canvas. They also worked from cadavers to study the human form. Beal did anatomical drawings that were purchased by the school and are in their private collection.

The rigorous training prepared Beal for the many portrait commissions he has done over the years including executive and academic portraits in the collections of Truman State University, Kansas University, and numerous private collections. Beal painted a stranger named Alexander whose face, tattoo and dreadlocks caught his eye while they were standing in in line at a movie theater. The portrait of “Alexander” wound up on the cover of The Artist’s Magazine. Beal has also been featured in Southwest Art and American Artist’ magazines.

He is currently working on a portrait of his wife Carol who is also an artist.

Recently, Beal completed a maritime-themed outdoor mural at The Jolly Roger Restaurant in Kill Devil Hills. Also in the works is a new series of portraits.

“I have started this little series called Faces of the Outer Banks, which are all just little 11”x14,” quick portrait studies of people that I run into that I think are interesting, so, contributing to the local culture, [who] have a history here, or [are] just interesting people.”

Beal has an unusual way of getting folks to sit for this series. He runs into people at the grocery store, and he taps them on the shoulder and says, “You got a look, what’s your story?” He will continue his storytelling by displaying the series locally next summer.

As an ordained pastor, Beal feels deeply when he paints. “When I sit at the easel, I paint…it’s gonna sound hokey but it’s true, I feel closest to God,” he explains. “So, for me, painting is…a connection outside of the material things.”

(Telling Stories with Oil and Canvas/ The Fine Art of David Beal, Duck Town Hall, 1200 Duck Road, Duck, NC. Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 252-255-1234)



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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