Art professor pleases with pastels

Seldom can artists make a typical landscape look as extraordinary as Robert Heischman succeeds in doing with his exhibit "Garden's Light," currently displayed in the Lockhart Gallery.

The gallery, located in the McClellan House at 26 Main Street, is home to the impressive collection of Heischman, professor of art at Rochester Institute of Technology, until Oct. 11.

"Garden's Light" consists of several lush, illuminated paintings of landscapes and seascapes. While it is striking to walk into a gallery filled with such vibrant colors and images, the mostly pastel compositions simultaneously exude a calming effect on observers.

A closer inspection of Heischman's individual works reveals his knack for intricate detailing; pops of color in the shadows and highlights of certain tones make each work into a pleasurable aesthetic experience.

Another exciting aspect of the artist's style is the unique compositions in each of his works. For example, in the piece entitled "Veiled Wood," there is a striking tree branch in the foreground while the background is mistier and not as detailed. In fact, Heischman uses this foreground-background juxtaposition quite often in his paintings.

In one of his larger pieces entitled "Garden Light," he uses a very sharp perspective and incorporates part of a house into the landscape, juxtaposing natural and man-made worlds.

Another interesting feature of Heischman's art is how he uses light and shadow to his advantage. In the piece "Shadow Procession," shadows become the main subject of the picture. The sparse use of white tones and light in the background creates a beautiful contrast to the abundance of darkness and obscurity in the foreground.

Heischman's art is of a style that everyone can appreciate: it's not too conceptual. His goal is simply to take beautiful scenes from nature and translate them onto paper. The soft quality of his medium of pastels also contributes to the general appeal of his work; any of the paintings shown in the "Garden's Light" exhibition could easily be displayed with a pleasurable effect in a living room or beach house.

Heischman's works give any bare space a sense of ease and tranquility, bringing a calming rendition of nature to the busy life of any observer.