J. Robert Burnell

Artist J. Robert Burnell comes by his love of marine painting quite naturally having grown up around the water in a family of watermen and sailing his own boat since he was ten years old.  He has sailed on every type of workboat of the Chesapeake Bay area including skipjacks, deadrises, buy boats and menhaden steamers, amassing a library of thousands of slides and photographs of workboats to which he constantly refers for accuracy of detail.  Among other favorite subjects are workboats and marine scenes of New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  He is equally conscientious of historical correctness, researching every object’s time, place and use.

Burnell began studies in Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, studied printmaking at Old Dominion University and participated in independent studies with John Pike, Edgar Whitney, Ed Betts, Don Stone, Rex Brandt, Jean Pilk and George Post.  He was an instructor of watercolor painting at Tidewater Community College from 1972 to 2002, and has led summer workshops in watercolor and acrylic painting for over 30 years.  He is a member of the American Society of Marine Artists and is listed in Archibald’s Dictionary of Sea Painters.

During his career, J. Robert Burnell has won numerous art awards including eight Best in Show.  He has been honored with solo museum exhibition at the Cultural Center of the Portsmouth Museums and the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, and group shows at the Rawls Museum Arts and Virginia Lifesaving Museum.  In addition to museum shows, Burnell had annual solo exhibition at Atlantic Gallery in Washington D.C. during its operation.  Other gallery exhibitions include:  River Gallery in Chesapeake, VA; Cudahy’s Gallery in Richmond, VA; Turtle Creek Gallery in Dallas TX, and Vincent Hester Gallery in Portsmouth, VA.  His work is also shown in the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT; Skipjack Marine Gallery in Portsmouth, VA;  Richard Stravitz Gallery in Virginia Beach, VA and Sheldon Fine Arts in Naples, Fl and Newport, RI.  Recent works have been included in a touring exhibition of the American Society of Marine Artists.

His work is included in several museum and major corporate collections.  Among them are:  The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Old Ebbitt Grill (Clyde’s Restaurants, Inc.), Branch Bank and Trust, Inc., Towne Bank, Bank of America, Inc., Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Nature Conservancy of Virginia, Bons Secours Health Systems, Inc, and Leesylvania State Park.  He was selected to create the signature painting for OpSail 2000, for the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race in 2002, three times for Norfolk’s Harborfest and the 2007 International Marine Art Exhibition at the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.

J. Robert Burnell lives and works in Portsmouth, Virginia and remains a sailing enthusiast.