Artist teaches painting on TV and in new local gallery

Heather Roddy grew up with the smell of oil paints and turpentine. Both her parents were artists. Roddy earned her allowance, which consisted of art supplies for her paintings, by tidying up the family’s studio.

Roddy’s father, Gary Jenkins, known worldwide for his oil paintings, hosted the national PBS television show “Jenkins Art Studio” and co-hosted the art series ''The Beauty of Oil Painting” with his wife, Kathwren Jenkins.

Roddy held her first solo show at age 19 in Palm Springs. Since then, she has built a reputation for her bold, vibrant paintings and her easygoing teaching style that has landed her on television with her own show on painting techniques. “Beauty of Acrylic Painting” aired in Berlin this year and is slated to air in the United States in fall 2011.

After exhibiting her work in galleries abroad and throughout San Diego, Roddy recently opened her first solo gallery at the Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar.

Locals might have seen her name at Gallery Alexander of La Jolla and run into her outside the Enchanted Gallery in the Flower Hill Promenade, where she often painted in front of passers-by. Her works were sold there for four years until the gallery closed earlier this year.

Roddy’s work has been sold worldwide and is in the private collections of sports celebrities such as former Padres General Manager Kevin Towers, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young and former Major League Baseball player Bip Roberts.

Among her commissions is a portrait of the Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, which she did for his co-owner in 2009.

Her new gallery — The Heather Roddy Gallery — is open daily and beckons strolling shoppers to stop in. Looking through the front window, shoppers can watch Roddy work on her latest painting. In the back of the gallery, she holds evening and afternoon painting classes with a distinctly relaxed atmosphere.

At her introductory class in early July, students sipped wine and listened to jazz while painting and taking pointers from Roddy.

“Having my own gallery lets me decide what kind of energy it has,” Roddy said. “You feel something when you walk in, and I want it to be a joyful feeling.”

The gallery is filled with more than 50 bold, bright paintings and hand-painted furniture.

“This is not the kind of art you just walk past. I think it says, ‘Hey, did you see me?’ ” Roddy said. Vibrant colors and a bold style characterize her work, which covers a variety of subjects — from flowers and animals to bistro scenes, portraits and landscapes.

“People tell me they feel the energy from my paintings,” Roddy said. “I have to believe that’s from what I put in — I put everything in and I’m pooped out when I’m done with a piece.”

Painting is Roddy’s life and has been her livelihood since she was 20. She raised three children, now ages 17 to 23, and inspired hundreds of children in the arts through her murals.

Over the last decade, Roddy has painted murals with students at 14 schools throughout San Diego, starting in Poway where she and her family lived before moving to Carmel Valley.

Roddy’s goal was to help bring the arts back in the schools when budgets were too tight to include art classes. She recalled how one student she did a mural with 15 years ago went out of his way to contact her when he was 26.

“He told me how much I influenced him, that I helped him believe in himself,” Roddy said.

She is set on keeping up her teaching along with painting, which sometimes means she works late into the night. “It feels right to teach,” she said. “If you’re given a gift, you need to share it.”

In addition to classes at her gallery, Roddy offers classes for seniors and children with special needs.

She graduated from El Toro High School in Orange County and studied at the Laguna School of Art and Design. She considers herself self-taught, picking up a lot from her father while accompanying him on his travels offering seminars around the country.

At a recent class in her gallery, Roddy told her students what she often heard her father say: “No guts, no glory.”

“No fear! Don’t be timid,” she told students as she watched them paint. “We play it safe throughout our daily lives, this is a time when we can let go.”

As Roddy demonstrated a brush stroke, she explained, “It’s like your brush is dancing around.”

Her students got the message.

“She’s so relaxed, she encourages us to let go,” Jan Kinney said.

Said Beatrice Rhett as she completed a boldly colored flower: “I’m not usually this spontaneous with my art.”

Roddy advised, “Art balances out other things in your life ... have fun with art ... if there’s something in (your) heart, do it.”


Heather Roddy Gallery

  • Where: Flower Hill Promenade, upper level next to Pannikin Coffee & Tea, 2670 Via de la Valle, Del Mar
  • Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. daily
  • Classes: 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; Junior Artists classes, 3 to 6 p.m. Sundays
  •, (858) 395-5605