I always leave my time spent with artists of any kind feeling very inspired and refreshed, like my creative energy has had a complete boost of something new, different, and exciting! Photographing Heather as she worked in her studio was not only so much fun, but so creatively stimulating. She graduated from The Maryland Institute College of Art and currently resides just 30 minutes north of Baltimore with her husband and two beautiful children. She commutes to her studio to create – her mom’s garage! – which is the perfect place to not only spread out her materials and equipment but also to separate work from home. I know that for me personally, that can be hard sometimes so it’s nice that she has a separate space. Her kids come with her and play with their grandma, help with the dishes as you will see, and play in the sprinkler out back when it’s hot out!
She says in her website biography that her “work explores basic emotional states. We’ve all found ourselves in varying situations of confinement, camaraderie, reverie, and desolation… These scenarios might evoke a different emotional reaction for each individual… I intend to bring attention to this universal human condition.” She says she finds “joy in the tactile”, creating abstract work with beautiful nuances of color, line, and texture.
I had a few questions for Heather…
1. Did you discover your artistic calling at a young age?
Yes. I think so. I was always saying I was going to be an artist. I spent a lot of time creating, drawing and painting. I only really deviated a bit in high school thinking about fashion design, but ended up at a fine arts college anyway.
2. What inspires you the most?
Reading and travel. Each in a different way, but I really think it has to do with a bit of escapism. I love a road trip and my mind wanders and I seem to always come back full of new ideas for the studio. When I’m reading I think a similar thing occurs. My active thoughts are given a break and I am swept up. Many times a phrase or words catches my attention and inspires a painting.
3. What’s your biggest challenge as a “painter-preneur” and how do you try and overcome it?
I would say the biggest challenge is staying true to my own direction and not thinking about what will sell. This is a fine line. I try to offer options that can make art assessable to everyone. I offer prints, smaller paintings and at sometimes during the year cards and hand painted ornaments.
4. What color are you most inspired by and why?
This year blue has got me in all its varies hues. Most of my collections this year have been about water, movement and the idea of many pieces making up a whole. I’ve recently started to work in more muted tones in my encaustic and am starting a few works on paper that will play with darker grays and maybe even black.
5. Are you reading any good books right now?
I am reading several. I tend to do that! In the living room I have The Girl with The Gallery, on my nightstand I have The Day Book, and on my kindle I have a thriller Depraved Heart. There is something about this time of year, that I love to cozy up under the blanket and read a good mystery. At the same time I always have an art book of some sort that I keep coming back to. Next up is a book I’m re-reading on Richard Diebenkorn, in anticipation for an exhibition of his work at the BMA.
6. Favorite movie?
Gah! I am really bad at narrowing things down. True to form I have various taste, Love Actually, Goodfellas, Amalie.
7. Favorite food?
All the food. I am a fan. My tops are sushi, Thai and Italian.
8. Do you like to work in silence or with music? Why or why not?
I either work with silence or a podcast. Silence because I have two young children and I am surrounded by noise most of the time, so it’s a nice break. I also enjoy listening to podcast I find inspiring like, Art for your Ear and Magic Lessons.
9. Out of the variety of mediums you use, which is your fave???
Girl, you’re killing me! At the moment I am coming full circle and am really enjoying oils, my first love. But each of the mediums I work with I love for different reasons. Encaustics
are so unique and I can manipulate them in both 2 and 3 dimensions. Acrylics allow me a great expediency and I can build layers quickly.
10. Any tips or pieces of advice for fellow local artisans?
Just start. Whatever it is that is the next step for you, don’t wait for perfection. Keep moving forward and you will figure out what you need to as you go.
I am a partner at a project called Carve Out Time for Art with Marissa Huber
“Our mission is to empower people to stop dreaming and start doing, especially when it comes to carving out time for art.
We are passionate about building community, encouraging others (especially women), and connecting people.
Our mission is to cultivate a positive and nurturing community for creatives who want to find time to satisfy this part of their
identity. We do this by fostering conversations, connecting creatives with resources, and showing people they are not alone.”
Watching the encaustic process was so cool… She heats up the little cups of colored wax, paints the wax onto her canvas, and scrapes it off once it dries. She adds layers and layers of color and texture and creates something so unique and beautiful!
The torch heats the wax so she can create movement, designs, and drips wherever she wants to on the canvas…
You can find her work on her website, www.heatherkirtland.com, along with notecards, prints, gift certificates, and commissions… Peek behind the scenes along with her 7,750 (and counting) followers on Instagram too!
Thank you for such a fun day in your studio, Heather! And for my beautiful custom piece that I have hanging in my home!