Autumn in the Studio

We have returned to terra firma after an extended excursion to Martha’s Vineyard. We usually let the unpacking phase linger long enough to keep some sand between our toes… as a reminder of all those walks on the beach, but there are wonderful things about coming home too.

Somewhere in the mountain of mail we returned to, ( thank you Sue for sorting it all out for us ) , I found my November issue of American Art Collector Magazine, and was pleasantly surprised to see my pal Ted there…



Humble thanks to Master John O’Hern for his ever so kind words about my work, and my muse. The memory I have of the twinkle of humor and love in Ted’s eyes is almost matched by seeing that rakish draping of jeans over boot.

It is a grey soft day here as November creeps upon us. The apples have all been picked up, but the grass is well over the tops of my boots, and the leaves have only just begun to fall.

Inside the studio, the furnace has begun firing up for the season, and so too have the brushes. It’s a good opportunity to work on the stack of commissions that have been piling up. In this time, between working on major bodies of work for shows, I can give undivided attention to those special projects and, after a long hiatus from the easel, my creative energy is restored and ready to rock and roll.

In the days ahead, I plan to show up more often here on the blog with progress notes and ramblings on creativity and studio happenings.

Today it feel so good to be able to say…back to the easel for now.


Sisters and the Muse

This falls under Ted’s favorite category of “sorta fun”.

A while back, one of my master muses, John O’Hern, sent a query asking about the painting Sisters. He was writing an article about florals, and botanicals, and Albrecht Durer, and naturally…thought of moi. (She wrote with a grin)

The article came out in this month’s American Art Collector Magazine, which Pat brought in from the mailbox last night.

As I read through and found it today, I see that an image of Sisters did not make the editorial cut. I can see why as the others make a wonderful bouquet of floral still lifes, and my little garden painting is of the more humble vegetable variety.

But, here’s the fun part.
What John wrote about the painting Sisters is…in his most inimitably magical way…delightful.

And I quote,
“Heather Neill observes a helpful symbiotic relationship in her own garden between her tomato plants and a volunteer scarlet runner bean that self-seeded the year before. Sisters refers to the ancient practice of “sistering” or “growing companion plants to, in this case, literally, support one another”, she explains. “Native Americans would plant corn to support the beans, which would shade lower growing lettuces…all in the same patch.”

The subjects are shown after dusk plucked out of the dark by a porch light. Neill’s saturated color and hyperreal painting along with the dramatic light suggest a more sinister role for the vine when the light is extinguised.”

Only John would imagine such sinister designs, plucked after dusk by a porch light.

Brilliant, and ta.


As in, my painting of The Captains, is on the Cover of this month’s American Art Collector Magazine…


Blog readers will remember the recent entry about my pals Ted and Pete leaving the planet this winter. Being left here without them was not an option, so I took a couple days off from the gallery work I was producing to do a painting of them, on the bluff, looking out over the ocean, on a distant afternoon, when we all shared some sweet simple time together.

Thanks to gallery owner Micheal Sugarman (Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe), the magazine tasked John O’Hern to write an article on my work. In talking with Micheal, and then John, interesting questions arose about what an artist paints “just for themselves”.

I have been working up to taking the challenge of figurative paintings, and when I looked around the studio it turns out that I have already begun that process. The ones which John features in the article are all very personal studies. My Captains leans just to the left of my easel where those two can continue to keep me on my toes.

My Captains The Muse

I’m still shaking my head at the certainty that Ted and Pete had everything to do with nudging the painting on to the cover. It’s a very big deal for any artist and I am completely humbled, but oh how I shake my head in wonder each time I walk by the mag (which I have perched on a weaver’s chair in front of the other painting I did of Ted, The Teacozy)…just shake my head and smile from ear to ear at the folly of those pals working their magic from beyond.

The magazine should hit the newsstands soon. Here’s a link to their website, AAC Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt of John’s writing for the piece,
Neill’s paintings of props, fishermen’s
shacks and the landscape are finely
rendered and often full of humor and
subtle associations that enrich the viewer’s
experience. She paint’s her emotional
response to her subjects.
Full figures and portraits, however, have
only appeared recently in paintings that
she painted “just for me,” paintings that are
“very personal and straight from the heart.”
Her partner Pat Lackey has been urging
her to show the paintings. When her Santa
Fe dealer Michael Sugarman asked her
about the paintings she is most proud of
she replied, “I have rarely taken the time to
do work that is just for me. It is interesting
because if I had to answer honestly, these
portraits are the ones I am most proud
of because they are all about love at the
deepest part of my soul.”
Aren’t we aging well is a carefully
composed double portrait of the artist and
her partner. They vacation on Martha’s
Vineyard every summer. The bluff
overlooking the ocean has always been
a favorite spot. It has eroded away but
remains significant in their memories.

John O’Hern

arent we aging well

We will be up there soon. And I know it won’t be the same. There are many friends from that island who have gone on to other shores of late. But holding them close is part of growing up and growing old and we are doing both.

Be well.

American Art Collector Magazine Profile

It’s been a couple of seasons since we had the pleasure of John O’Hern’s company in our little corner of the planet. As part of his east coast travels, he came to the studio to interview me for the American Art Collector Magazine. John is one of those rare humans who has a thriving curiosity, the intellect to follow where it leads, and a profound peace at the center of his core. The combination makes for stellar conversation and his rapier like wit always keeps me on my bog-Irish toes.

I’m so grateful to John for his continued support and to Joshua Rose, the editor of AAC for profiling my work in this issue. The magazine is my go to source for the latest from artists and galleries and I’ve found something new and important for my work in every issue.

The February issue will be out soon, if not already, but here’s a peek at the first page of John’s article…

Reality Boost …

I’m still reeling from a power packed weekend of art and artists and curators and interviews and new and old friends and a studio filled with all that and then some.

The Brandywine River Museum show was spectacular. The opening was mobbed but there were enough spaces in the crowd to get to meet all of my Realist heroes. The museum has put the paintings up on their website in an online catalogue version. It’s a nice way to have access to the images but I long for the old days when you could buy a nicely bound book to bring home and peruse at your leisure and revisit the images over the years.

With gracious appreciation to Bob Jackson, Pat and I were invited to join the artists and museum staff at a dinner following the reception and a luncheon the next day following a panel discussion. Both opportunities were pure gold and I will live on the fruits of those many conversations for months.

It was also a chance to meet many of the artists with whom I’ll be showing next month at the 1261 Gallery in Denver.

I’ve been painting round the clock to have some new works to show them and this morning the gallery director said yes to them all so …. off to the photographers and the framers went Pat today and I’ll be shipping them out early next week.

Here’s a preview of one of the paintings that will be in that show… Oils on Canvas

They too will have an online version of the show and I’ll post that link when it’s up.

The show is titled, Reality Boost and will be featured in the October issue of American Art Collector Magazine so check your bookstores or mailboxes for that…


stay tuned for an artist’s profile on yours truly that will appear in the AAC Mag sometime in the near future… Contributing author, curator and all around man of the arts…John O’Hern… was in town for the Brandywine show and spent the rest of the weekend visiting here in the studio and interviewed me for his upcoming article. It was a once in a lifetime experience to share our space with him and the gift of so much of his time, depth of knowledge, and rapier like wit and charm.

John’s genius is well documented in the years of Re-presenting Realism series of shows which he curated while leading the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, NY. But it is perhaps his current creative incarnation as a freelance curator, writer and consultant that may leave a more indelible mark on the artworld.

His most recent work was to collaborate with EVOKE Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe and curate the show…Re-presenting the Nude. You can view their online catalogue version by clicking here. It’s a powerful collection of work and I’ve been spinning off of the catalogue to research artist after artist whose work he has now introduced me to.

Spinning is indeed the operative word for my head right now…

Add to all of the above a stellar week of sales at the Granary Gallery and we are holding on tight to this wave of positive energy flowing around us… it’s certainly nice to have good things to report on and we’re not taking one second of it for granted.

Now it’s back to the easel for me…  and you all get out and take a walk in this crisp clean air !