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Natural, rare and artfully abstracted!



In the latest “gleaning” of quality wood product for our boxes John discovered something that       has excited and stirred him to a creative adventure once again!  His love for fine, natural wood, creative craftsmanship and passion for what he creates brought the discovery of a limited supply of “Birdseye Birch”.   Strong, resilient, light and abstracted in its design, these sheets will yield a very special product for artists interested in our boxes.

These special consignment pieces will be offered on a first-come-first-serve basis styled personally for the artist and in the Backpack and Sketchbox Double sizes. These are one-of-a-kind artworks, a collector’s dream; an artist’s treasure.

Framework to be of Cherrywood; plywood inserts to be of Birdseye Birch.

Prices are:  Sketchbox Double – $195. + $15. Sh/h. (tax in CA)

Backpack -$265. + $25. Sh/h. (tax in CA)


Outstanding in Her Field! Bravo Lynne Vokatis, Plein air Warrior!


As told by Carol Douglas….

The air was perfectly still when we started painting. Unfortunately, neither she nor I thought to weigh down her Heilman pastel box. The wind rose imperceptibly. Whitecaps began to form and bigger breakers crashed along the rocks.

Lynne’s entire kit flew over onto the rocks with a terrible crash.

If you’ve worked in pastels, you know that the tinkle of broken chalks is the saddest sound known to mankind. An open-stock pastel stick can range from $3.50 to $7.00, and a good pastel artist can carry more than a hundred of them, accumulated over decades and treasured. The proper response to a fallen easel is either copious swearing or copious tears, depending on your personality.

Instead, we squared our shoulders and set to work cleaning up the mess. Miraculously, the box itself wasn’t damaged by the crash. Neither were the Terry Ludwig soft pastels she was carrying. While some of the other brands came from dust and to dust returned, these chalks were unfazed. A soft pastel that can survive the granite of Maine is not to be sneezed at.

On the first day of a workshop my students are usually so gung-ho that I have to drag them away for breaks. This year was no exception. By 1 PM, I was begging them to pack up their easels and eat their lunches. Our situation was untenable. The wind, at around 20 MPH, made the easels vibrate and the work snap around like tacking sails.

We moved to Arey Cove, which gave us a little protection. There I did a demo while my students ate their lunch.

At 5:30 I told everyone to pack up, as we had half an hour before dinner was served. Lynne was covered in pastel dust. “I think I’d better shower,” she said, and rushed through her packing. Unfortunately, the back door of her SUV wasn’t secured.  As she sped around the corner, her art supplies flew out of the back, including her Heilman pastel box on its tripod.

Again, we squared our shoulders. Again we picked up the mess. Again, that box was completely unscathed.

So consider this an endorsement of the Heilman pastel box. Apparently it is indestructible. The same might be said of Lynne. Lesser women (like me) would have cried and quit for the day. But she didn’t let disaster derail her. She told me that her neurologist says to think of such moments as clouds that will shortly move along. Sounds like brilliant advice to me.


An Ashland Experience

Art & Soul Gallery

Art & Soul Gallery

In my many years of making art, dealing with different art-forms, learning and sharing with fellow artists I have given gifts that keep on giving. As artists we learn and express our passions each in our own way. This is why I feel so blessed to find a consortium of talent that offers creative support and a professional gallery setting in one of the most charming places in southern Oregon, The Art & Soul Gallery, 247 Main Street, Ashland, OR 97520. You will be greeted by a gracious staff and directors who are owner-artists who enjoy sharing art with new and seasoned collectors and casual visitors. The directors keep the gallery fresh and energized with exhibits and activities that make for exceptional first Friday Art Receptions. New works, different interpretations and encouragement to higher levels of accomplishment in the many mediums is enthusiastically encouraged. Visit their website at and like them on Facebook at: › Art & Soul Gallery, Ashland, Oregon.

I invite you to visit me at the June First Friday Art Reception for my one-person show “Passages”

Oil Painting by Marge Heilman

Oil Painting by Marge Heilman

New Product Discovery

A slip during unloading resulted in this hand injury .

A slip during unloading resulted in this hand injury .

During the booth set up in Monterey I got a  cut on the top of my hand that was fairly deep.  What a great relief I had the product of a friend to rely on!

Ed “Passi” Pasquerella sent one of his brilliant “Dr.’s Bag” of natural sunscreen, bug repellant and wound repair.

The moment I put just a drop or two of the “Golden Drops to the wound, it stopped the bleeding and eased the pain.  It began the healing immediately

and there was not even a redness or tenderness and because of its natural anti-bacterial properties, the wound was greatly healed by the time convention ended.

Ed Pasquerella's "Golden Drops" and "Buz Off"

Ed Pasquerella’s “Golden Drops” and “Buz Off”


This product is a must for all of us plein air painters!

Visit his site and enjoy a great resource.

Thank you Ed!  You saved the day!

Why We Fight to Make the Best

As good wood and materials become more costly and difficult to acquire, we push the envelope of possibilities to have our products be the best, longest serving and easiest to use. When our boxes are opened and the lids come off, something wonderful is about to happen.  Nature’s elements or still-life set-ups are about to be faced head on, a passion is about to be expressed and creativity is forging a masterpiece!  We partner in a serious effort….creativity!  When we create with feeling and passion, our minds visit a good place, our heart rate relaxes and endorphins kick in.  After a stressful day or in the midst of one we can engage a healing process by way of creating.  We have enjoyed many notes and emails from artists sharing their painting experiences.

"Trees at Desoto Park" by Elizabeth Rose

“Trees at Desoto Park” by Elizabeth Rose

This is a note we received from artist Elizabeth Rose, IPAP (International Plein Air Painters Artists Organization WORLDWIDE    

“I am a third generation pastel painter working primarily en-plein air.  Living in Florida I have seen much of its’ natural beauty destroyed by rampant development and construction. I hope to capture and preserve some small piece of what remains undisturbed.

“I can testify to the durability of your Heilman Pastel box.  I purchased my box several years ago and it has done very well by me.  The ultimate test occurred over a year ago.  I was on my way to a plein air competition and being very nervous, had placed my pastel box on the roof of the car while packing up my supplies.  When I arrived at the competition I couldn’t find the box anywhere.  Gone!  That was in May.  Fast forward to September.  I was pulling weeds by a fence at the end of our property and lo and behold, there was the Heilman under some bushes.  From what I could tell the box had flown off the top of my car, sailed 20 feet through the air and smacked into a wooden fence. It had survived the entire summer of Florida heat and rain.  The box as well as the pastels had survived and were in good shape.  I’ll never part with my Heilman box.”



Creative Partnering

Heilman Designs Belt & Palette 913

In sharing our art, our partners art, be it craftsmanship, communication, etc., we inspire and share things with each other that give each of us new insight into how we will communicate our own visions.  When I see what John sees in his camera, compared to what I see in mine has been a great source of revelation and insight.   Our art, our partner’s art, be it craftsmanship, communication, etc. bridge over to create innovative ideas that produce great products.  That’s how the Heilman Pastel Box came to be.  John saw my efforts in plein air with a different eye and used his creative talents to enhance my painting experience and that of many other artists.

Recently John’s gift of engineering and design coupled with a great knowledge of wood crafting has given us the exciting new “Sketchbox Single” and “Sketchbox Double” A new 12” Easel has been achieved to give more latitude to set up size.  They are working great and allow more time to “catch the moments”. I’ve added a value finder that I’ve made personally for my students for years that tucks into small sketchbooks or tablets to add to the set up.  Combined they give a “never leave home without it” bundle of tools waiting to capture any sketch or miniature treasure at a moment’s notice.  Easy open, easy close, compact and reliable!  A “Starter Package” will be available shortly..

Heilman Designs Sketchbox Double & 12'' Easel & MHDValue Finder & Multimedia artboard

Heilman Designs Sketchbox Double & 12” Easel & MHDValue Finder & Multimedia artboard

Another example of creative partnering came from a request from an artist who has our boxes to use our patented side latch for a custom piece of fine furniture that her husband builds.  A gifted couple whose artistry and talent reside in beautiful wood pieces, hand crafted tiles and tilework.  Barbara Vanderbuilt and Richard Curewitz at offer a beautiful, finely crafted laptop desk.  Its brevity of size would meet the need of every small apartment or limited space, its fine craftsmanship makes it an heirloom to be treasured for generations to come. Barbara Vanderbilt & Richard Curewitz Laptop Table

A new item which we will offer on our website is the Multimedia Artboard.  I have been using it with pastel, oil, etc and find it to be a great companion for our boxes en plein air and also in the studio where I have been doing “take it with you” sizes to sell in the gallery.  The story of this product is wonderful and so fitting with the title of this blog.  Alice Carney and her husband developed the multimedia artboard . What the Carneys created is an archival material, which is very light weight, easy to cut, can be used on both sides, and is very durable. A material that an artist could use for oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolors, collage, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, virtually any medium available to today’s vast array of artists.  Tom Carney, her son is doing an amazing job of producing this product with high standards for quality control and customer service!  This story resonates so much because it is our story too and the products that allow artists everywhere to paint their passion and express their vision is so important!  Check out our sizes and prices and for more information on the product itself go to

Multimedia Art Board 1 web

There are so many examples of creative partnerships that combine talent, innovation and creativity to give the world a new way of seeing, doing and thinking.  If you have an example you would like to share, please let us know, we would love to see it!  Meanwhile, HAPPY PAINTING!

Show or Tell?

It was almost overwhelming!  A flurry of activity, a rush of people.  No matter how prepared, IAPS will always sweep you off your feet!  The wave of happy reunions, new friends made, ideas, options and possibilities  sweeps you up and takes you for the ride that is IAPS 2013!  We had good roads &  weather. 

Sacramento Sunflowers 2374 Fresh Picked 2393 Central Valley Flower Fields 2400Needles 2469

We came through Gallup and the red cliffs started to call our names.  What is it about the magic of those canyons and the dancing light that skirts in and out of them?  We stayed around there to catch evening light and then headed into Albuquerque early next morning. 

Albuquerque Sky 66 2743 The set up went well, we got time to meet up with old friends and be readyfor the early 8am start-up on Friday.

 Booth 26 2655 

Margaret Evans & the Heilman Sketchbox Double

Margaret Evans & the Heilman Sketchbox Double

The new Heilman Sketchboxes were the topic of much conversation and Margaret Evans shared her experience with the Heilman Sketchbox Double.  Artists coming to our booth had seen them working too and the need for them became very evident.  Our supply quickly found homes. .  One artist/teacher related that taking her students to the museums to study the masters is now very disappointing because of restrictions on backpacks and large totes due to security issues.  The smaller boxes will assist with the size requirements.  We’ve also been told they are great companions for tight places and times when you are waiting….such as children’s sports games, long car trips, waiting rooms, allowing small sketches and color notes with a minimum of fuss.  I have a good palette of Terry Ludwigs, Unison, Holbein and Gerault in my Double Sketchbox.  The Single carries a great supply of Gerault and it worked so well when we stopped at sites with limited access.  Just 2 pounds carry weight was so great!  Stephanie Birdsall also related the possibility of the boxes being used for multi-media and we will be pursuing that with possible inserts and additions to the design as well as a new easel size to accomodate a smaller set-up size.So now John, our magician-in-residence is busy, busy with ideas and ways to accomplish the impossible.  Through the years I’ve heard him say over and over again, “the impossible is possible, it just takes a little longer…!”  So he does and here we are!  

Stephanie Birdsall & the Heilman Backpack Box

Stephanie Birdsall & the Heilman Backpack Box

Of course the most exciting, is the Pastel Community itself.  Generous, full-hearted and ever-expanding it is a great gathering of new, emerging and accomplished artists who share their journeys in art.  Here are some memories of a fantastic IAPS….

Michele Aplin, Lisa Stauffer & John

Michele Aplin, Lisa Stauffer & John

Isabelle Roche', Margaret Zayer & Marge

Isabelle Roche’, Margaret Zayer & Marge

Duane Wakeham & John

Duane Wakeham & John

Duane Wakeham & Marge

Duane Wakeham & Marge

Fred Somers, Tom Christopher & John

Fred Somers, Tom Christopher & John

Lee McVey, her painting & the Heilman Backpack Box

Lee McVey, her painting & the Heilman Backpack Box

Lisa Stauffer, her paintings & the Heilman Medium Box

Lisa Stauffer, her paintings & the Heilman Medium Box

Paintaround 1 2693                     Paintaround 3 2689   The Paint-around!

IAPS Dinner 2711  Dinner Group 6613 2723Dinner Group 6613

                                                                                                                                                                                              Dinner and new friends!


John in persuit of the "Perfect Shot"

John in persuit of the “Perfect Shot”


Marge at Coronado St. Park

Marge at Coronado St. Park

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Urania’s Gift Basket finds a resting place!                                                                                

 Thank You Urania 3456  

Marge At Monument Valley a 613 42H54783 copy

Plein air in Oil & Pastel with sand from a dust devil thrown in…

Monument Valley Movie nite 3468Movie Night!

Monument Valley Sunrise 6-12 3494 Sunrise!

IAPS Albuquerque, June 6-9,2013 We will be there!

We will be attending the International Association of Pastel Societies Convention in Albuquerque, NM, June 6-9,2013.  Albuquerque Evening IAPS 2011 7206 b web(

PLEASE NOTE: Our website shopping cart will be closed while we are gone.  If you need a box, easel, or palette tray order processed before June 1st place your order as soon as possible.  Orders placed after June 1stwill be held and shipped upon our return and your credit card will be charged upon shipment of your order.

Urania & Dare to Dream  2 webUrania Christy Tarbet will be introducing her new book and signing copies at the convention.  See for more information

 Sadly we will so miss our dear Maggie Price whom we lost in early spring.  She leaves a legacy of great experiences, lessons, energy and the passion for painting in pastels.  IAPS has created a scholarship in her honor and we look forward to participating.  If you or your art society wish to honor Maggie you can send a check made out to IAPS to:  F+W Media / Pastel Journal
Attn: Anne Hevener / Maggie Price Award
10151 Carver Road Blue Ash, OH 45242                                                                           Please make your check out to IAPS and write the Maggie Price Award on the memo line. For questions you can contact Anne at

The IAPS convention will be a rich environment of workshops, demonstrations, art supplies that give birth to new ideas, creative applications and lasting memories.  Here are some that live in our hearts…

Eileen France IAPS 2011 7207 web

Eileen France came by with her backpack box and gave John a great inspiration. Her husband had made a side palette for her box and she so enjoys it and the extra help it gives that she thought it might be a great item to create for our boxes.  The result is our new “Palette tray” and we are so appreciative Eileen for the inspiration for this new idea. Be sure to visit her beautiful work at

Don Cooke IAPS 13 7215 web                                                         Don Cooke came by with his backpack and shared his experiences.       Don is from Durango and his work has garnered many awards.

 John and Friends IAPS 13 7213 b webJohn enjoys visiting with new friends.

The Journey of Art

Albert Handell

Albert Handell

This is the Master artist Albert Handell using the Medium(Original) box on his French easel. An artist so gifted and sharing his instruction must be first on any artist’s “bucket list”. His workshops, both regular and mentoring are life changing for artists new and experienced alike, check his schedule at

Margaret Evans with the new Heilman Sketchbox Double box.

Margaret Evans with the new Heilman Sketchbox Double box.

Traveling the world is second nature for Margaret Evans who teaches in her warm-hearted style. She uses the new Sketchbox Double and Backpack box with the Heilman Easel. With experience in multiple mediums and climates she gives students a treasure trove of education and painting experience. From the glens of Scotland, vistas of Tuscan villages to the landscapes of the America she makes art a rich and rewarding experience. Her art and teaching schedule can be seen at

Margaret Evans Demo w-our Bkpk web

Margaret Evans Heilman box setup with a gorgeous painting of poppies.

Richard McKinley in Eastern OR  & Heilman Box 2012 web

Richard McKinley painting en plien air.

Richard McKinley en plein air, eastern Oregon. Richard excells in his teaching format and diverse applications of pastel and oils. His workshop is a “must” for any artist’s investment in their craft. For workshop info go to

Marge Painting @ Monument Valley web
So where ever it leads us, however it finds us, art is a journey we must take each in our own way and make the most of our passion.


Crystal Creek Falls by John Heilman

Crystal Creek Falls by John Heilman

Welcome to our new website and blog! It’s a wonderful time to be an artist. The internet facilitates sharing our journeys, learning our craft, reaching for new ideas and innovations. Each time I interact with an artist or artist page I come away with a new sense of excitement and creative energy…a really GOOD energy that enhances my life and fortifies my spirit. Often we’re reminded how important art is to all our lives, how important it is to share a passion and communicate it to our community. I realized how crucial art is in a cold, imposing hospital corridor at 2 in the morning, waiting anxiously for an answer or outcome and my eyes walked into a painting that hung on the wall. It was of a bunch of sunflowers. It pulled me in and spirited me away from the coldness of fear and pain to the comforting sunshine of those saturated petals and inviting greens of the generous leaves. I warmed to the mood and felt the comfort of a vibrant rendition of nature that led me to memories of just such a bunch of flowers. I remembered the smell, the furry texture of the leaves and their heat from the sunshine. It took me in and bridged the long hours and warded off the haunting possibilities that could change a life forever. Who could put a price on the worth of that painting in those long hours before dawn?
This space is dedicated to that vocation…the creation of works that bring peace, healing, excitement, discovery and celebration of life.

Art is made for many reasons, for communication, documentation, therapy, for sale… just for the need to “push paint around” or learn the dynamics of pigments or compositional elements. Whatever the reason, it’s a wonderful vehicle and some important elements are the tools we use.
Our boxes were created out of a glaring need. When our painting group was first introduced to pastels by Albert Handell, we learned quickly the fragile nature of the pastel and the difficulty of transporting it into the field or workshop. The “wish list” was created and John was the magician that made it happen. Some of the items were, “it has to hold a good-sized palette of colors”, “it has to be compact”, “open and close quickly”, “protect the investment of pastels”, “easily transported”.
With a few prototypes for friends, we ventured on location with Albert and the wild ride began. Now they travel the world, work in every climate for every level of artist and keep the pastels at the ready for masterpieces to come.