Mark Hierholzer

Mark Hierholzer | Visual Artist at Art for the Journey Impressionist Oil Painting

Educational Background/Training

  • Old Dominion University, BA
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, MS

About the Artist/Ensemble

With an interest in drawing all his life, Mark became an oil painter in 2001, attending innumerable classes and workshops and studying with local and nationally recognized artists. He been teaching middle school children, adults and special needs populations since 2013.

Mark spent over 40 years as a mental health professional, leading nonprofit organizations serving children, adolescents and adults. Familiar with art therapy, he founded a Trauma Treatment Program for children who experienced physical, sexual or psychological abuse or who witnessed violence. Art-making was an important part of his own self-care, creating a place where he found peace, solace, perspective and joy. Combining his mental health background with creative art-making, Mark and two other artists, Cindy Paullin and Jamie Wigginton, founded Art for the Journey, bringing a range of professional art instruction and specialized art-making experiences to at-risk children, seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s, incarcerated women, veterans with PTSD and combat related disabilities, low income frail elderly and schools. Most of his current work is through Art for the Journey, participating in programs and providing two Richmond-based adult studio classes per week in impressionist oil painting, tailored to both beginners and experienced artists. During COVID, Mark developed online Zoom classes in Impressionist Oil Painting and Impressionist Landscape painting that were available to remote students from around Central Virginia. He continues to develop new modules in portraiture and drawing and broaden these kinds of offerings going forward. See for further information or email Mark at the address below.

Audiences include adults who want to learn impressionist oil painting, and special populations in need of or desiring a customized art instruction or experience through Art for the Journey. Availability varies, depending on type of program and location. Contact or for further information.

Educational Program Description

Impressionist Oil Painting: Whether a beginner or experienced artist, Mark Hierholzer begins with a historical overview of oil painting and French Impressionism followed by a series of guided exercises in charcoal and oil paint aimed at developing an understanding of light, shadow and color, awakening color perception and rendering complex color compositions on canvas. Classes and workshops can be structured in various ways to accommodate the audience. Besides basic skills, this approach can be applied to still life, landscapes and portraiture, based on the interest of the group. Participants must be over 12 years old.

Various programs through Art for the Journey: these programs are led by Mark Hierholzer, professional artists and teachers and incorporate trained volunteers. Professional Art instruction and/or the communal art-making experiences are adapted to the special needs of the people served. Current programs address low-income frail elderly, elderly with dementia and Alzheimer’s living in assisted living settings, incarcerated women, military veterans suffering PTSD and service related disabilities, at-risk children, community-based schools, children with special needs, i.e. diabetes, OT Students, Medical Students and corporate groups. It is our belief that art-making within a community of support and personal engagement has the power to contribute to well-being and even healing. This is the aim of all Art for the Journey’s programs. Each program has its own structure and approach specific to the population being served. As an example, for elderly with dementia/Alzheimer’s we use “Opening Minds through Art” (OMA), a specially developed art-making program developed by the Scripps Gerontology Institute and Miami University of Ohio ( This program, extensively researched and evaluated, is considered a national best practice and has won a number of awards. It’s positive impact on participants exceeds all other common therapeutic approaches to elderly with these kinds of brain disorders. Art for the Journey is not only certified to conduct OMA, but is authorized to train and certify others as Facilitators of OMA. All programs can be conducted onsite in a suitable space.


  • All Ages
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