Donald Beal was born in 1959 in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in Westford, Massachusetts. He studied painting at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he studied with a former student of Hans Hoffman, instructor David Loeffler Smith. In 1983, Beal received an MFA from Parsons School of Design, studying with masters Paul Resika and Leland Bell.
Moving to Provincetown in 1985, Beal has made the art colony his permanent home. He digs deep into the medium of paint in his search for form and color. About his work, Anna Dempsey writes in the 30th anniversary issue of Provincetown Arts Magazine, "Though the artist depicts the power of nature, his work does not simply document it. Rather, Beal's landscapes illuminate a conversation between humanity and the natural world that occurs over time. He captures this unfolding conversation with thin layers of paint through which we can see material traces of the built environment. Clearly, these once sturdy structures are now frail and crumbling. In the image, they function as a visual synecdouche for human civilization."
Beal is a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts in North Dartmouth where he has taught since1999. He is one of two recipients of the 2013 Lillian Orlowsky William Freed Fellowship Grant (LOWF) from the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.