Tommy Heinsohn is known best in his post-playing days as a game announcer for the Celtics, whom he helped lead to eight NBA titles during his Hall of Fame playing career. But the 6-7 Heinsohn has fostered an interest in painting since grammar school, and is now exhibiting some of his work at an art gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.
“I used to be the one to draw the Christmas scenes in colored chalk on the blackboard for the nuns,” Heinsohn told the Gloucester Times.
When he was later attending The College of the Holy Cross, Heinsohn made a rendering of Joe Welch, who was on the cover of Life magazine during the McCarthy hearings. A Jesuit priest took notice of Heinsohn’s work and encouraged him to continue with painting.
“The priest, who was the head of the art department that was being newly formed, convinced me to put the drawing in the college show, and he convinced me to take an art class,” Heinsohn said. “I went for three weeks but I had to drop out because it conflicted with why I was there – to play basketball.”
Heinsohn paints landscapes, an interest that bloomed after his playing and coaching career ended.
“After my coaching career, I really started drawing more in my travels (as a sports commentator),” he said, “and I started to compose scenes that were outside of the hotel windows throughout the NBA season.”
His exhibition features renderings of the infamous Cape Ann area in Massachusetts, long an inspiration for artists.
“You can see why artists would come from all over,” he said. “Within 10 miles, an artist can find every landscape scene you would think of painting, from villages to boats and harbors and lighthouses. There is the woods and quarries, and both urban and rural scenes, in all seasons.
“It has everything you would ever think of painting staring you right in the face,” he added. “Then you can go to Bass Rocks where there is the raw beauty of the ocean and rocks.”
Heinsohn described painting as an itch that needs to be scratched.
“My late wife was an interior designer and she would run a show to get paintings out of the way,” he said. “Painting is like an itch – you got to do it.”
(Photo: Gloucester Times)