Blair Atherholt: Tranquil Beauty

NOAPS Atherholt_Blair 12x16 1

“Empty Vessel”, 12×16, Oil, by Blair Atherholt, winner of the ‘Best Still Life’ at the 2019 NOAPS SMALL PAINTING National Juried Exhibition at the RS Hanna Gallery, Fredericksburg, Texas.

The image of tranquility in “Empty Vessel” belies the complexity of the arrangement; the composition, colors and drawing have all been carefully considered.  The drapery leads the viewer to the old jug, loops around the table and back up to the moth in flight.  The colors are orchestrated to harmonize and conduct us around the painting and examine the exquisitely drawn details.

NOAPS Atherholt The Leap  “The Leap”, 14×18, Oil, Private Collection

Blair Atherholt had a passion for art as a youth, and after a short time studying medicine at Temple University, he chose to return to his first passion.  He enrolled at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, Maryland, where he met teacher and mentor Carol Thompson.  Inspired by Thompson’s teaching and encouragement, and the paintings of Chardin and David Leffel, his main genre is realistic still life painted in oil.  His inspiration comes from various sources: music, life events, or everyday objects.

NOAPS Atherholt Harshest Critic_Oil_2019_22x34  “Harshest Critic”, 22×34, Oil, OPA Exhibition, Illume Gallery.

A day in the studio begins with coffee, music and a fresh palette.  His small paintings may not require an initial thumbnail sketch, but for larger paintings he does a sketch to work out the composition.  Working from life, the painting process begins with a simple line drawing, with no underpainting.  He establishes the background first to create the value structure and atmosphere, after which he works on the subject matter in a direct manner.  His palette consists of White, Nickel Titanate Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Medium, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Ivory Black and Ultramarine Blue.  He makes his own panels of MDF board prepared with oil ground.

NOAPS Atherholt Empty Vessel_Process_1  NOAPS Atherholt Empty Vessel_Process_2  NOAPS Atherholt Empty Vessel_Process_3  NOAPS Atherholt Empty Vessel_Process_4  NOAPS Atherholt Empty Vessel_Process_5  Painting process for “Empty Vessel”.

In March 2018, Atherholt held his first solo exhibition and workshop at the Canary Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama, which was a milestone for the young artist.  The successful exhibition featured a large and cohesive body of work, a major accomplishment for Atherholt.

NOAPS Atherholt A Still Life for Summer_Oil  “A Still Life for Summer”, 12×12, Oil, Private Collection

The keys to success as an artist, he says are to “work hard, stay humble, and never forget the people who helped get you to where you are!”

NOAPS Atherholt Single Dose  “Single Dose”, 16×21, Oil, Collection of the Artist.

Blair Atherholt’s work is represented by the Canary Gallery, Birmingham, Alabama, and Gallery 330 in Fredericksburg, Texas.  To view more of Atherholt’s work visit  To see the NOAPS SMALL PAINTING Exhibition visit

Written by Patricia Tribastone, NOAPS Blog Director



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