Artist of the Day April 15

Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Name: Dennis Heckler

Location: Yazoo City, Mississippi

Art/Craft: Oil and watercolor Paintings

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Dennis Heckler began drawing at the age of three. A native of New York state, Dennis spend his youth in his hometown of Buffalo and in Cleveland, Ohio. He majored in Advertising Design at a prestigious Buffalo technical high school and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While there he won the coveted Art Directors Club of Buffalo Scholarship and he majored in graphic design and illustration.

It was during these years that Dennis explored countryside vistas between New York state, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He fell in love with American landscapes, the country houses that dotted them and the play of light on rooftops, trees, water and rocks.

For the next 30 years, he pursued a career in advertising and graphic design that gave him the opportunity to work and live all over the country, accumulating photographs and mental snapshots of landscapes and houses he hoped one day to have the time to paint.

In the late 1980s, as computers began to replace human-inspired and human-created graphics and illustrations, Dennis started thinking more seriously about painting. His love for landscapes and affinity for the Arts & Crafts era, drew him originally to the works of the Impressionists. As time passed, he was also strongly influenced by the paintings of contemporary California Colorists, such as Camille Przewodek and Lois Griffel, both of whom studied at the Cape Cod School of Art under the influence of Henry Hensche and Charles Hawthorne.

Workshops with Lois Griffel, California plein-air painter Brian Stewart and watercolorist Wyatt Waters confirmed Dennis’ decision to work in both oil and watercolor. “I usually let the subject I’m painting tell me which way to go,” he explains. “The weather-hewn texture of mountains might say ‘oil,’ while the quiet waters of a tidal marsh may say ‘watercolor.’ ”

Today, Dennis expresses his personality and passions through landscapes and commissioned house portraits that capture scenes from the American West, the Gulf South and the Mid-Atlantic region. In heavy strokes of brilliant color, he executes his oils with a palette knife, and he creates watercolors with broad, bold strokes of pure color for clean contemporary results. Dennis’s studio is housed in Yazoo’s Cultural Center which began its life in 1905 as a grammar school. Dennis’ studio has 12-foot ceiling and is blessed with abundant natural light from the nine enormous windows that outline the corner classroom. It’s here that he paints and teaches evening art classes.

You can view his artwork at