Local artist finds her niche creating sports-themed paintings

Dozens of brightly-colored skiers take to the slopes, cyclists in blue jerseys peddle toward the finish line, hundreds of marathon runners race to glory. These are just a few of the images in Heather Blanton’s paintings depicting whimsical sports scenes. 


A Jacksonville native, who studied photography at the University of North Florida, Blanton has called St. Augustine home for the past nine years. 

“There are more galleries on a few streets in St. Augustine’s historic district than in the entire city of Jacksonville,” Blanton says of the local art scene and decision to move south. “It’s a lovely, visually inspiring city with a lot of talented people residing here.” 

When the photography industry transitioned from hours spent in the dark room to hours spent in front of a computer, Blanton decided to change her medium from a camera to a paintbrush. 

“In September of 2013, after getting a commission to do a cycling piece, I instantly fell in love with the kits of the racers,” she says of the colorful jerseys and bibs that bike riders wear. “I saw an area that was very close to many people’s hearts and when I Googled ‘cyclists paintings,’ very little came up. I saw a niche market opportunity and ran with it.” 

Blanton, who has been a professional artist since 2004, has been amazed at the success she’s found painting favorite pastimes like football, sailing, surfing, golf, tennis and dozens of others. The artist says this series has proven bigger and more successful than anything she’s ever done before. 

When it comes to starting a painting, Blanton approaches each work in a different way. “Usually, a commissioned piece will require me to research the sport,” she says. “The last one I did was of crew racers. I have never rowed before, so I watched YouTube videos and looked at photographs to try and understand the energy and mimic it in the work.” 

“For a piece that I am doing for myself — meaning not art directed by a gallery or buyer — I just sit down and let it happen organically. Those are usually my favorite pieces,” she says. “It’s kind of like a waking dream. I don’t feel in control of the outcome. I am just an instrument, and the painting is coming through me.” 

Blanton typically works in acrylics, but will often add charcoal or pencil to add a rough outline of the figures. She says that it creates a textural quality when it goes through the wet paint and adds some definition to otherwise abstract figures. 

“I made a conscious decision that I would be an artist,” Blanton says. “I didn’t train to be one and no one believed in me. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do and I work hard everyday to make it a reality. If you love what you do, you find a way to make it happen.” 

Locally, Blanton’s work can be found at Plum Gallery on Aviles Street. She’s also represented nationwide at galleries in Boston, Atlanta, Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville, Fredericksburg, Texas and Jackson Hole, Wyoming as well as online at saatchiart.com. 

For information, go to heatherblanton.com.