SCENES from an endless West Coast summer are now on display at a West Vancouver gallery.
"I have two children, and my paintings tend to be a chronological history of them growing up on the West Coast," said artist Mark Heine.
Vancouver Island beaches feature prominently in Heine's work. Many of his oil paintings show his two daughters, now 13 and 17, at play, surfing or in quiet contemplation. His current exhibition, called Child's Play, is now showing at the Bellevue Gallery.
Heine, who lives in Victoria, trained as a commercial artist at Capilano College. He worked as an illustrator for many years, producing images for companies like Disney, Microsoft and Starbucks. But seven years ago, Heine stopped doing commercial work to focus on his art.
"I found that it was difficult to do illustration work and be a fine artist at the same time," said Heine. "I think you really have to concentrate on one thing or the other."
While his commercial work is hyper-realistic and detailed, Heine said his fine art is more impressionistic, with softer lines and shapes and many depictions of the way summer sunlight falls on water, trees, faces and hair.
"When I went to do fine art I thought it would be nice to get away from that kind of intensive realism," said Heine.
Heine works from photographs and often combines several photographs together to create a composite image.
Heine never gets tired of painting his main subjects, his two daughters. The works speak to other parents and grandparents who remember idyllic days on the beach.
"I do get a lot of (clients) who are empty nesters who want to remember what life was like as a parent," said Heine. "I also get a lot of clients who are young families, who just want to have those kinds of images around the house."
Even though his daughters are growing out of childhood, Heine said he will continue to paint them.
"I enjoy painting my kids as they get older," said Heine. "They're doing different activities, it's a different time in their lives and it inspires something slightly different."
Looking at Heine's paintings might inspire a trip to the beach, but he also hopes it makes people think about the natural world and what we are leaving for our children. He's also writing a novel set on the West Coast about "children learning to live in balance with the environment."
"A lot of my paintings are environment-related," said Heine. "The kids are the ones who are going to be inheriting the world."
Mark Heine's paintings are on display at the Bellevue Gallery in West Vancouver until August 12. For more information, visit www.bellevuegallery.ca.
- Mark Heine, Child's Play, Bellevue Gallery (2475 Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver, 604-922-2304) until Aug. 12.