Tuesday, July 13, 2010

J. Robert Burnell: Reflections of the Famed Portsmouth Artist

"The Captain's House" by J. Robert Burnell
Portsmouth artist J. Robert Burnell (Bobby) grew up around the water in a family of watermen, and sailing his own boat since he was ten years old. He has sailed on nearly every type of workboat on the Chesapeake Bay.  It's no wonder that Burnell's love of the water reflects so naturally in his marine paintings. 
Bobby Burnell is recognized for his vivid depictions of life on the Chesapeake Bay.  The subject is his favorite - each piece open and honest, providing a unique understanding of its mood and people. 'The Captain's House' by Burnell is shown above.
One of the largest collections of Burnell's marine art is on exhibit at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery  and his works are on display in their showroom year-round.

"Scott's Creek- Circa 1915 by J. Robert Burnell

One of the keys to Burnell's success on the canvas is the work he does outside the studio.  Burnell believes in details.  They are a reflection of his work.  He has amassed a library of thousands of slides and photographs of workboats to which he constantly refers to for accuracy of detail.  Among his favorite subjects are workboats and marine scenes of New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. He is equally conscientious of historical correctness, researching every object’s time, place and use.
Bobby began studies in architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology, studied printmaking at Old Dominion University, and participated in independent studies with John Pike, Edgar Whitney, Ed Betts, Don Stone, Rex Brandt, Robert Bateman and George Post.
"Taking a Lick" by J. Robert Burnell
From 1972 to 2002,  Bobby Burnell was an instructor of watercolor painting at Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, and has led summer workshops in watercolor and acrylic painting for over 30 years. He is a member of the American Society of Marine Artists and is listed in Archibald’s Dictionary of Sea Painters.
During his career, marine artist J. Robert Burnell has won numerous art awards including eight “Best in Show.” He has been honored with solo museum exhibitions at The Courthouse Galleries in Portsmouth and the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, and group shows at the Rawls Museum Arts and Virginia Lifesaving Museum.
In addition to museum shows, Burnell had annual solo exhibitions at Atlantic Gallery in Washington D.C. during its operation. Other gallery exhibitions of his work have been offered by River Gallery in Chesapeake, VA., Cudahy’s Gallery in Richmond, VA., Turtle Creek Gallery in Dallas, TX., and Vincent Hester Gallery in Portsmouth, VA,. His work is also shown in the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT., and Skipjack Marine Gallery in Portsmouth, VA.

"Skipjack" by J. Robert Vurnell

His work is included in several museum and major corporate collections. Among them are the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Old Ebbitt Grill (Clyde’s Restaurants, Inc.), Branch Bank & Trust, Inc., Towne Bank, Bank of America, Inc., Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Nature Conservancy of Virginia, Bons Secours Health Systems, Inc. and Leesylvania State Park.

"Opening Day" by J. Robert Burnell

He was selected to create the signature painting for OpSail 2000, for the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race in 2002, and three times for Norfolk’s Harborfest. Additionally, his work was selected for exhibition in the 2007 Mystic International at the Maritime Gallery of Mystic Seaport Museum.
When Bobby is not painting boats, he continues to maintain and sail one of his own.  You just might see him out on the water.
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