Known as one of the early American Impressionists, Beal was born in 1867 and studied at Cornell from 1885-1889 with a focus in naval architecture. His formal art training would come later as he studied under William Merritt Chase at Chase's school in Shinnecock, Long Island in 1896. His love of yachting resulted in paintings of maritime scenes from Rockport to the Hudson, as well as the Caribbean.
Beal's first solo exhibition took place at the Clauson Gallery in New York City in 1905 and he would later become a founding member of the Society of Independant Artists in 1917. He was one of the few Americans chosen to have their work exhibited at the Luxembourg Museum in Paris in 1919.
Beal was a member of the Salmagundi Club, the American Watercolor Society, the Society of American Engravers, the National Arts Club and in 1909 was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design. He also founded the New Society of Artists, which consisted of fifty of the most influential painters of that time, among them, Childe Hassam, Maurice Prendergast, George Bellows, and William Glackens.