Name: David Heath
Hometown: Newport News, VA
Your work as a painter is described as “Contemporary American Landscape,” with the majority of your art showcasing sprawling fields, mountains, bodies of water and the like. What drew you to this type of art?
I believe that in order to paint well, an artist must paint what he loves and what he knows. My greatest passion in life has always been exploring and discovering the beauty of the natural world. Landscape painting allows me to relive these visual experiences. My hope is that viewers of my work share these experiences and in effect, become lost in my world.
You’ve described painting outdoors as “a workshop … a great learning experience.” What are some lessons you’ve learned while painting in the middle of nature?
Keep it simple—there are fewer disappointments. You have to make many decisions in a short period of time, rely on your past experiences and be open to new approaches. It is not that difficult to overcome the elements, with the use of bug spray, sunscreen, a painter’s umbrella, etc. Painting outside with others increases enthusiasm and helps form a commitment.
Start with a small canvas, especially if your work is detailed. Be open to constructive criticism; use it to improve your work. Light changes quickly outdoors, altering your subject, so you must paint quickly and be able to recall the original impression. Don’t assume that all horses and cows will enjoy your presence in their pasture.
Certainly our area has a whole host of gorgeous scenery. Tell us some places you like to visit around our area to garner inspiration.
It is very difficult to answer this question because there are literally thousands of great locations in our area. I will attempt to be brief: The Blue Ridge Parkway around the Big Island area, the Arnold Valley overlook, the Peaks of Otter and the view overlooking Buchanan. Also, the Smith Mountain Lake area, all along the James River, the farmlands around Sedalia, the Appalachian Trail, Cole Mountain, Fullers Rocks and the many small rivers and streams. I have painted all of these areas on-site.
What is the most memorable or stunning landscape you’ve had the honor of painting?
I could not limit this to one. Fullers Rocks on the Appalachian Trail overlooking the James River. The Adirondacks near Lake Placid where the Hudson River School artists painted. Seascapes along Cape Cod, Maine, and Rhode Island. The stretch of the James between Eagle Rock and Snowden.
All of your art is breathtaking. Is there any one painting that you are particularly proud of?
Thank you for the compliment. Again, this is difficult to answer briefly. Although it was a departure from my usual subjects, I was honored to be commissioned to paint the Lynchburg Bicentennial Painting which now hangs in the Lynchburg Museum. It was also a great honor to have my work chosen twice by the Art in Embassies Program to represent the United States in foreign embassies. I am especially pleased that one of my paintings was the first work to enter the permanent collection of Liberty University.
It’s now been decades for you as a painter. What have you learned from your art that has translated into real life wisdom?
This is by far the most difficult question. First, have faith that you are not alone in this life, and that if you follow your passion and love for what you are doing, great things can be accomplished. You must be persistent even when faced with rejection or failure and learn to use negative experiences to grow, rather than allowing them to defeat you. In the specific area of landscape painting, you must learn to develop good taste. Always be willing to learn and change. Practice patience in all things.
Any words of advice you would give to other aspiring artists?
Be ready to work extremely hard. Study the works of great artists who inspire you. Surround yourself with positive, creative people who share your vision. Learn and grow from constructive criticism. Believe in yourself. Most of all, help others. When your work is ready to be sold, research all marketing avenues with regularity; the art market changes constantly and you must be open to new options.
Learn more about David Heath and see a sampling of his work at www.davidheathart.com.
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