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Henry White: Man of Many Talents

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Henry White: Man of Many Talents

By Sharon Feissel

Henry White is a master painter of the local landscape, a passionate portrayer of the old oaks that decorate our hillsides. He hikes with camera, recording the individuality of particular trees he passes while traversing this landscape that so inspires him. In studio, he paints his selected CrowFeatherimage. Henry admits to being concerned that environmental and agricultural considerations will impact these majestic, gnarled old survivors, such as the one in his Coast Live Oak painting.  He comments, “I feel a sense of urgency in capturing the aspects of the trees and hills as they are now and before they deteriorate with the radical changes in our environment.”

Following Henry’s trail of artistic expression is like wending one’s way along a long and varied pathway, and the variety of his skills leaves one aghast. “With my bedroom as studio,” he says, “I started painting in oils as a teenager growing up in Walnut Creek and by the oak woodlands, creeks, and golden foothills of Mt. Diablo. My first paintings included plein-air landscapes heavily influenced by Van Gogh, as well as large somewhat abstracted and fantastical landscapes.” As time passed, he added drawing, greater realism, portraits, and ceramics to his portfolio. He moved several times, but regardless of location, he says, “I continued my landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and drawings.”

Three WomenIn the mid-70s, Henry moved to Sonoma County. “With its beautiful hills and woodlands, I knew this was the place for me.” Getting into the business of life and family, his art output dropped. He worked in a commercial woodshop, there developing sufficient skill to make some of his own furniture – quite a different form of creativity. In the 1980s, he added computer illustration to his skillset, designing artwork that was laser engraved into wood and paper for a Santa Rosa company. After having veered away from his personal artistic path for quite a while, Henry took up pen and brush again. Subsequently in the 1990s, he became a freelance illustrator for a Petaluma paper company, creating several series of stickers and many pattern designs. 

Oh Savanna

Henry specializes in the northern California landscape for which he has become so well-known and well regarded. However, he still does freelance illustration and computer graphics, creating cd covers, posters, and logos, including the logo for Riverfront Art Gallery. But wait! Henry’s artistic breadth also includes his expertise on harmonica and his frequent appearances with other musicians around the area. In summation, Henry comments, “I have a deep and abiding impulse to create art and make music, my favorite forms of human expression. For me the impulse to create is like life and love. It is a quickening of the spirit and a rising joy.” 

Henry’s show, Scenes From Sonoma County, is featured at Riverfront Art Gallery from November 9 to January 8. Meet Henry at the reception on Saturday, November 12, 5:00 to 9:00.