Friday, March 24, 2017

A Sense of Place

What is a sense of place? The term has been used in different ways, but I'm talking about the sense of place that we strive for in landscape painting, a feel for the earth and vegetation, and the architecture and people that makes this place different from others. When I travel to paint, I'm searching for this sense of place, and trying to bring it home on my canvas.

Bahama Clouds
8"x10" oil on Raymar panel

Last month I enjoyed a trip to Grand Bahama with painters Carol L Douglas and Joelle Feldman. We painted with Cali Veillieux, and stayed at her rental cottage in the beautiful and charming German Holiday Park in Freeport.

So what was different about the Bahamas from our New England perspective? It was nice and warm! The next thing that hit us was the beautiful blue green ocean and the big weather that kept floating by above our heads. And of course, the vegetation was different. We needed different colors for the palm and jacaranda trees than we were used to.  And there was still a lot of destruction from hurricane Matthew. The poor jacaranda tree below (my favorite painting from the trip) should have been decked out in wonderful blue blossoms, but it was just happy to be alive.

 Jacaranda Tree
8"x10" oil on linen panel (not quite finished?)

I love the palm trees, and there are so many different kinds! It took a bit of practice to even come close to painting the foliage believably. But it was fun trying. 

8"x6" oil on Raymar panel

I don't think you can truly get a sense of place when you are visiting for a short while. But you can try, and in that trying learn something about the place, it's people, and their struggles and dreams. Cali and her friends do have that sense of place, and for them this is a beloved island. To us it was beautiful and a wonderful respite from our weather at home. More paintings and some new Bahamas friends in another post.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Abstracted but not Abstract

Painting, drawing, making and loving art

There are many abstract paintings that I love, for example, the Elegy to the Spanish Republic paintings of Robert Motherwell and the later paintings of Franz Kline, I'm especially attracted to abstracts that are black and white. It's the bold composition that grabs me.

But what almost intrigues me more is abstraction in representational painting. There are several contemporary artists whose work captivates me in this regard; Maine oil painter, Henry Isaacs, British pastelist Tony Allain, and Scottish mixed media painter Claire Harrigan.

What do they have in common? There's a lot of color, for sure. They're bold. and the abstract shapes are beautiful. But there's also a level of simplification that very much appeals to me.

I'm trying to add a level of abstraction to my representational work. Here's a piece from 2011 where I used a patchwork kind of approach. My current thinking is to let the drawing do more of the talking. Stay tuned.

French Farm
8"x8" oil on canvas panel
Bobbi Heath

Monday, February 13, 2017

Preparing for a Demo

 Demo - Jackson Dinghy
8"x8" on 3/4" gallery wrap canvas

Practice - Jackson Dinghy
8"x8" on 3/4" gallery wrap canvas
Available here

On Saturday I did a demo at the For the Love of Art event at the Drawing Room at Anthi Frangiadis Associates in Marion, MA. It was a lot of fun, with engaged viewers who asked very good questions. It had been a couple of years since I'd done a full painting demo, but lots of hours teaching with minim demos had happened in between. Luckily I also remembered something I'd learned in my previous career, after not doing very well on panel discussion that I tried to do off the top of my head: preparation is key! Here's my advice and what I did to prepare:

- Choose subject your audience can appreciate. I prefer to do demos from life, but that has to be balanced with what your audience would like to see. In this boating community, I knew what my subject needed to be, even though it was the dead of winter!

- Choose a painting that you've painted before.

- Practice the drawing several times over a couple of days. A solid drawing makes for a stress free demo. My goal was to draw from the photo and then to add a grid and compare my drawing on the canvas with a photo that also had the grid as a way for the viewers to check my accuracy. So I practiced drawing on paper from the plain photo and then adding the gird and fixing my mistakes. It was instructive!

- Practice the demo painting, i.e., paint the whole thing. This was important because it had been a couple of years since I'd painted the original. I had to remember how to mix all the colors so as to not waste time experimenting during the demo. And I found that my current process (with a value under painting and two layers of color) took more than 2 hours, so I shortened it to one layer of color for the demo.

- I didn't practice what I was going to say. I could talk all day long about the painting process!

Interestingly, even with the explanations and answering questions, the demo was less than an hour and a half, so all was well. And I enjoyed it! That's good because I've got another one scheduled for an event in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in June.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Liqueur and Clementine

Liqueur and Clementine
8"x6" oil on canvas panel
Available at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery

 Drawing into the yellow ochre background with the wipe out tool, zoom in to get a better view

 First thin color block-in
Second pass with color

When painting a glass object, it can be hard to capture the small changes in value between the glass, edges, and background if you do your drawing in dark-ish paint, like I usually do. that problem can be solved by using an initial under painting that matches the value of the background, and drawing into it using a wipe out tool, like the one made by Kemper.

Thanks to Robert Abele for showing me this method!

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Laphroaig and Glass
10"x8" oil on canvas panel

What to paint in winter? Thinking about Valentine's Day coming up I got out a bottle of brandy and a couple of glasses. Hopefully you'll see that painting in a few days. I thought I should practice first and so grabbed a bottle of my favorite scotch, Laphroaig, and a single glass.

I set up the still life next to a window, with a black backdrop and a white linen napkin as the base. and took a few photos since the light was changing fast. Here are a few process shots.

Value under painting in yellow ochre and ultramarine blue

 Putting in the darks

First pass of color (note the change to a purple background)

Painting the background a different color than what I could see was of course not such a great idea. I  immediately knew that the bottom of the glass was now too dark. So the next morning I went to JoAnne Fabrics and bought a piece of purple fabric to replace the black.

Notice also that the bottle leans a little in the process photos and the ellipse at the top of the glass is crooked and bigger on the bottom then the top. So I had to fix all that. For a discussion of how to get the ellipse correct in this kind of painting, see this great post by my buddy Carol L. Douglas.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Pens, Pens, Pens!

Sketch for "The Chefs", Noodler's ink and Creaper pen

The new year is about to start, and January is a good month for resolutions and for experimentation. If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I love drawing with pens. Pencils and charcoal are fine, but pens are my favorite. For the last few years I've been drawing with what we used to call "felt tip pens", but with permanent ink. My favorite of these is the Tombow, which are very reasonably priced, come in lots of colors, and a set of gray values. I stick to the gray values, and use them for thumbnail drawings and value sketches. Here are a couple of examples.

Gordes, France, sketch 2015

Olive Grove, Bedoin, France 2015

And here are a few of the Tombow pens with another drawing.

The sketch at the top of this post was done with my new Noodler's Creaper Flex fountain pen. I've spent some time over the past few days learning how to get different line widths, hatching, and other pen and ink drawing techniques. This pen (below) is excellent, especially for the $14 price, and available on 

I hope in January you'll see some more experiments from me. I've got some new Dr. Ph. Martin's India inks in lots of colors to try.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Prints Now Available from Bobbi Heath Fine Art

I'm excited to announce that prints are now available from Bobbi Heath Fine Art. Prints of twenty of my favorite no longer available paintings can be purchased on in multiple sizes printed on paper, optionally matted and framed, or as gallery wrapped canvases (no frames needed). And the small version (8" to 10" on the long side) of each print is less than $20! I just placed an order myself, and it will arrive before Christmas. Is there anyone on your list who'd like one?

Here's the link:

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Beaver Brook Winter

Beaver Brook Winter
8"x10" oil on canvas panel

We had our first snow of the season today. And to prepare for it, I painted this a couple of weeks ago in my class with Robert Abele. A bunch of us were trying out a limited palette of yellow ochre, cadmium red, black, and white. The gray mixtures turn almost blue with this approach. Perhaps this year I'll be able to paint in the snow at Beaver Brook. Looking forward to that, maybe there will even be a little blue sky.

Monday, November 28, 2016

American Cancer Society Holiday Sale

Most of us know someone who has had cancer. Or maybe we've even had it ourselves. I'm in that last group.  I'm often asked to donate paintings to shows that support a cause, and usually I do that, happy to support something that's near and dear to one of my friends. This holiday season I'd like to support a cause that's near and dear to my heart, and that's cancer research. Maybe it's near and dear to you as well.

I've put 90 paintings on my website for a sale to benefit the American Cancer Society and their work in research, education, and care of cancer patients. Shipping within the continental US is free, and 50% of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. Please help me support their work!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Buoy #8

Buoy #8 White and Green
6"x6"oil on Raymar panel

This is the last buoy, at least for a while. I particularly like how the water looks like puddles, which happens when it's relatively calm.

The eight buoys will be part of the holiday show at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery this year. The opening is on Saturday, November 26th from 4-7PM. I'm very pleased that one of the buoys was chosen for the advertisement! Check it out below with the others.

Buoy #4

Buoy #1

Buoy #2

Buoy #3

Buoy #5

Buoy #6

Buoy #7