Karl Heerdt

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Karl David Heerdt (American, 1962-) artist, sculptor and teacher, known for his tonalist & illuminist landscapes in oil. His depictions of the Western New York region, Niagara Falls, western US subjects featuring Yellowstone National Park, and southwest images are collected nationally. Karl was born in Western New York and has always called the area home. For more than twenty years, he had been a cabinetmaker and had designed and built homes locally. During this time Karl became aware of and began to nurture the artist that was always a part of him, and has successfully shifted his professional focus to creating works of fine art. His range of work includes engaging and dynamic landscapes from around the country, compelling still lifes, figurative paintings as well as sculpture. He is an associate member of Oil Painters of America and his work can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He presently resides with his family in Kenmore, NY.

Since 2003, Karl has been teaching painting classes out of his studio and offers private instruction and two day intensive workshops for beginners as well as advanced painters. Classes are open to all. either group and individual settings and include drawing, oil painting, sculpture, haunt and cosplay  prop making, mask-making, frame-making, furniture/industrial/epoxy, mold-making, casting, and small business entrepreneurial product development.

Artist's Statement:

Painting is a lifelong learning process. Being self-taught, I find inspiration from great masters of the past and their knowledge of materials and techniques, as well as their commitment to excellence. I am always striving to improve and I find that the more I learn, the more demanding painting becomes. It takes a great deal of concentration to paint at a level that gives me the results I am seeking. Having limited access to living artists who were painting at that level, I in turn looked to the past and learned from the artists who I thought had met or even set the standards which I hope to meet or even exceed. I also instruct my students to do the same. As William Merritt Chase instructed his students, "Take from the past, borrow liberally, but take only the best! In this way a student will acquire the sufficient tools and knowledge and be able to instill them into his or her own style." And I feel that only after acquiring the needed skills, is the artist then able to forge ahead, break new ground, and establish their own unique place in the world of art.

Frequently in the studio, when I am painting an image that I am really excited about, I enter into a state of mind in which I can mentally visualize myself at the site which I am trying to portray. I can almost feel the sun, smell the air, and hear the sounds that I experienced on location. When I paint in this frame of mind, time seems to have no meaning. An hour could pass as though it were only a few minutes, and the paintings seem to take on a life of their own.

While out on location, I find myself in awe of the beauty of God's creation. Any time spent outdoors, taking in the ever changing views, which are endless in their complexities and hidden mysteries, fill me with emotion.

This is why I must paint. It is a direct response to the emotions that I feel when experiencing the beauty of a particular location. I know of no better and more enjoyable way to process and express these feelings. I hope that viewers of my paintings will receive the same pleasure in seeing and getting lost in them, as I did while creating them. Adding emotion to a painting is what separates artists from painters!
-Karl Heerdt

As stated in The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism, “Tonalist painting is defined as much by the approach of the artist, by his motivation and conception, as by his subject and composition. It is painting with concern for emotion, mood, conceptual truth and the reality beyond appearances, not the transcription or objective rendering of nature.”


1962- Born, September 19th, Buffalo, NY.

2001- Opened his studio at the Market Street Art Center, Lockport, NY.

2003- Exhibited, group show with ten artists, “Uniquely Lockport”, The Upstairs Gallery, Lockport. NY.

2004- Exhibited, solo show, “Landscape Illuminated”, 36 paintings, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2005- Exhibited, two person show, “Luminous Space”, 42 oil paintings, Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY.

2006- Exhibited, group show of nine artists, “Brush Strokes & Land Marks: Contemporary Landscape Painting”, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, 25th Anniversary event, Auburn, NY. Juried an art show for the developmentally disabled, through Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Niagara Falls, NY.

2007- Exhibited, group show, Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Competition, at the Weatherburn Gallery, and won the Award of Excellence for “Best Landscape” with a $500 cash prize for the oil painting “By The Old Stone Wall”, Naples, FL. Exhibited, two person show, Planet Bronze-Contemporary Western Art Gallery, Bozeman, MT.  Exhibited, solo show, “Nature And Inspiration”, 37 oil paintings, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. Exhibited, finalist for the 2nd Annual Raymar Fine Art Competition Online, $1,000 prize for the oil painting “Hunter’s Creek”, 16 x 20”, and also entered the oil painting “Sunset on Oak Orchard Creek”, 8 x 10”, Phoenix, AZ. Taught several 90-minute drawing & painting workshops at various Niagara Arts and Cultural Center sites for the developmentally disabled, through Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara Foundation in Niagara Falls, NY. Karl and his wife Rita were married, Lockport, NY.

2008- Exhibited, group show, “Awakenings: Reflections Upon Spring”, the Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY. Hosted an intensive two-day plein air oil painting workshop in the White Mountains at The Bartlett Inn, for the New Hampshire Plein Air Painters (NHPleinAir), Bartlett, NH. Taught a drawing & painting workshop for the developmentally disabled, through Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Wheatfield, NY. Karl along with fellow local artist Tom Kegler (American, 1970-) auctioned artwork to raise money for the Western New York Land Conservancy at the Stonegate Community Mansion, East Aurora, NY. Hosted an oil painting workshop for the East Aurora Art Society, redFISH Art Studios, East Aurora, NY. Had works auctioned for the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy fundraiser, Buffalo, NY.

2008-2009- Juried the Genesee Valley Plein Air Painters, Inc. Association 4th Annual Plein Air Painters Show in the Pittsford Barnes & Noble Community Room, and also hosted a painting workshop for the Genesee Valley Plein Air painters, Inc. Association, Pittsford, NY.

2009- May, Karl hosted a painting demonstration and lecture workshop for the Rochester Art Club, Rochester, NY.

2010- Exhibited, Spring, solo show, "The Moment Observed", 36 oil paintings shown, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2012- Exhibited, group benefit show, "Mill Road Scenic Overlook Benefit Exhibition", Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY. Fall 2012-May 2013, exhibited, group show, "Well Crafted", Burchfield-Penny Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

2013- April 27-June 1, exhibited, group show, Annual Theme Show "The Four Humors", Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY. September 13 - October 12, solo exhibition, "The Landscape in Harmony", 36 oil paintings shown, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2015- Exhibited, two-person show, "Tonal Meditations: Sharon Gordon & Karl Heerdt", Artists’, Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY. May 30-July 18, exhibition, group show, “The Ridge: Benefit Exhibition for the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy” (CRC), which supports the restoration and preservation of the rich natural, recreational and historic resources of Chestnut Ridge Park, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2017- September 15-October 14, Exhibited, solo show, "Karl Heerdt: Nature's Palette", Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

2018- March 17-April 21, Exhibition, two-person show, "David Dorsey and Karl Heerdt: Hushed Reverberations", Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY.

2019- December 7-January 25, 2020, group exhibition, "In a Nutshell: Small Works Salon, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY.

Memberships: Associate Member of Oil Painters of America; Buffalo Fine Arts League, Buffalo, NY.

Prizes: Award of Excellence for “Best Landscape” and $500 cash prize for the oil painting “By The Old Stone Wall”, Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Competition, at the Weatherburn Gallery, 2007, Naples, FL; Finalist for the 2nd Annual Raymar Fine Art Competition Online, $1,000 prize for the oil painting “Hunter’s Creek”, 16 x 20”, Phoenix, AZ.

Galleries: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Collectors Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY; The Oxford Gallery, Rochester, NY; The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, CT; Planet Bronze Art Gallery, Bozeman, MT; and Common Ground Western Art & Gifts Art Gallery, Red Lodge, MT; Redeasel.com online art gallery, at redeasel.typepad.com.

(Rewritten & compiled chronologically by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)