Robert's Art
Updated 27 August 2001

Robert Beeman's artistic expression has taken two very different tacks: One: Construction and construction design. He enjoys working with his hands and with both hand tools and heavy machinery. He loves to design buildings, special features of buildings (such as gates and fireplaces), and landscaping. He earned his California General Contractor's License in the 1980's. Robert was the working general contractor on the 25,000 foot Beeman Building in Santa Rosa and on the homes and other buildings at the Beeman ranch. In the landscaping area, he especially likes designing and building Japanese-style gates, bridges, koi ponds, streams and waterfalls. Two: Scientific and technical photography and illustration.

This web section will illustrate a few of the results of those interests. More may be added at various times in the future as various past and present projects develop and are recorded. In a double sense, these pages will always be "under construction".

Black Ink Drawings by Robert Beeman

Phyllaplysia taylori, the Eelgrass Sea Hare


This is the Opisthobranch Mollusk (relatives of the better known "nudibranchs") on which much of Dr. Robert Beeman's scientific research at Stanford and San Francisco State Universities was based. Ink drawing by Robert Beeman. Click on the drawing for a better view. This beautiful bright green naked mollusk lives on eelgrass blades along the Pacific shores of North America. This mature specimen was about 4.5 cm (1.8") long.

Female Gland Mass of Phyllaplysia taylori
Ink drawing by Robert Beeman
Please click on the drawing for greater detail.
Note: this whole structure may be only about the size of a .20 cal. airgun pellet (about 1/5")

Now here is a figure for which I know all of you have been anxiously awaiting. For centuries,  the classical invertebrate zoologists had puzzled how the reproductive systems of hermaphroditic mollusks operated. The key problem was that since these animals are hermaphroditic and exchange sperm at mating, it could not be determined whether sperm at a given point, in the various parts of their extremely complex reproductive systems, was coming or going . By using modern techniques* of radioactively labeling the sperm of one member of mating pairs, I was finally able to break this puzzle. Other aspects of the study allowed me to study basic sperm mechanisms in cool seawater organisms. Many aspects of sperm biology are believed to be much the same in most animals, but living sperm are very hard to study in warm blooded organisms under their critical temperature and physiological requirements. Some of
my research sought to reveal details of how sperm are activated ("capacitated"). The National Science Foundation considered this work to be of basic scientific interest to the extremely important matter of human birth control and thus heavily funded my research at Stanford University throughout my doctoral research. (This is enough excitement for one day, so I won't bother you with the anatomical terms signified by all of those label letters. However, if you care to look closely, the arrows marked as XS  represent sperm from a mate, the arrows marked SS represent the animal's own sperm, and the line marked ES represents the string of fertilized eggs. All these materials are present in the reproductive system of one individual animal!).

*Specifically, I labeled the DNA of newly forming sperm with a radioactive isotope of hydrogen (tritium) and then tracked the movements of such radiolabeled sperm by letting the sperm create a microscopic photo image of themselves on photo emulsion; a technique known as autoradiography. (See  Scientific Papers).


Click on pic for larger view.

Black Ink Drawing by Robert Beeman of the California Sea Hare, Aplysia californica Cooper, 1963. - a huge naked mollusk, related to the nudibranchs, which can be found in shallow ocean and bay areas along the California coast. Can be as large as a small rabbit - its size and ear-like "rhinophores" - scent organs give it this common name. First described and named by Cooper in 1863. Robert Beeman is one of the world's authorities on this group of marine animals.

Click on pic for larger view.

Black Ink Drawing by Robert Beeman of the "Sea Cow", Aplysia vaccaria Winkler, 1955. - apparently this is the world's largest gastropod. Specimens up to 30" (76 cm) in length and 35 pounds (16 kg) in weight have been reported by divers in Southern California. Grazing like cows on large seaweed, the large sizes of these animals are all the more remarkable for the fact that their life span apparently is only about one year. First described and named by Winkler in 1955.

Click on pic for larger view.

Black Ink Drawing by Robert Beeman of the Reticulated Sea Hare, Aplysia reticulopoda Beeman, 1960. - a very rare sea hare found in sub-tidal areas in Southern California. Known only from preserved specimens, this specimen is 7.6" (19.3 cm) long. First described and named by Robert Beeman in 1960. It is amazing that animals of this large size, and the even larger  Aplysia vaccaria, have been unknown to science until such recent times. The key work on this group of gastropods, known as the Anaspideans, is The Order Anaspidea by Robert Beeman (1968) (see Scientific Papers).

Construction Art by Robert Beeman:
Please click on the thumbnail pictures!

Japanese-style gate by Robert Beeman and Douglas Anawalt


Japanese-style steel gate. Inspired by shoji panel design, the steel swinging portion is about 14' (ca. 4 meters) wide. Gate, stone posts, and large copper lamps designed by Robert Beeman


Rumford fireplace designed by Robert Beeman, This unit is on a grand scale; it is 14' across and over 8' tall, incorporated in a 24' high wall of local stones. Stone, stained concrete, and steel. Only the redwood baseboard is wood. Contractor: Robert Beeman.

 Please click on each of these pics for details.

Detail of fireplace at the left, with the four free-swinging firescreens closed. The fireplace may be used with the screens open or closed.

These folding steel firescreens were inspired by Japanese shoji panel design. Note the details carried over from the steel gate design above. Designed by Robert Beeman.


Same fireplace showing the folding firescreens open. Note the very high (4'), wide, and shallow firebox. This is the highly efficient design developed by Count Rumford in the 1700's; a design which was almost lost during the 20th century. This fireplace heats rapidly and does a wonderful job of reflecting heat deep into the room.  Excellent air draw is assured by this design and a cable-controlled damper on the very top of the chimney. Absolutely NO smoke comes into the room!

High heating efficiency also is aided by the fact that combustion air comes from a vent supplying outside air along the front edge of the grate, rather than using heated air from the house. This vent also serves as a ash dump to a 4' x 8' reinforced concrete ash box which extends 10' below the fireplace. It will take a while to fill up that box!

Multi-purpose wall unit.  On each side are display cases featuring shelves made of 3/4" (19 mm) thick plate glass cross-illuminated by programmed, variable, low voltage lights hidden in the top and base areas. Inspired by Japanese design, built of fine cherry wood, and flanked by Japanese shoji panels made of special extra-heavy Japanese rice paper. An electronic entertainment control center occupies a large central cabinet area which is concealed behind a 200 year old Japanese grain barn door. That antique door was carefully restored. However, as the old door was not wide enough to cover the hidden cabinets, it was flanked with two new panels made in the exact styling of the original door. These side panels were decorated with matching brass studs. The wood of the panels was given authentic coloring by working the surfaces with a paste made from ashes from the facing fireplace. The heavy, original door and the matching side panels glide in tandem into pockets hidden behind the display cases.   A 24" (61 cm) wide top shelf unit displays Indian and Eskimo art, illuminated by rope lights and low voltage spotlights. All designed by Robert Beeman. New side panels built by Hiroshi Sakaguchi. Please click on the thumbnail pic to see some of the details better.