Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

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Shining Light on Emotions: The Art of Heather Martindale

Heather Martindale Immersion, 2024, 48x36, oil on canvas

Heather Martindale, is an artist from Idaho who paints abstract art that talks about emotions and stories. Heather’s art is like a window into the soul, capturing feelings and experiences with every brushstroke. She talks about how light and fabric make her paintings come alive and how she tells stories with her art. Let’s take a closer look at how she brings her paintings to life, using light, feelings, and personal experiences.

Heather Martindale

Idaho-based artist, Heather Martindale, has been working in oil paint for over 10 years.  She blends her love for old master paintings of drapery and mystery, with her personal, emotional connection to the symbolism of fabric.  She found herself as an artist while creating her culminating exhibition to complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  She was introduced to the iconic dancer, Martha Graham, and her performance ‘Lamentation’.  This was a big inspiration to Heather’s Show titled ‘Incandescent’.  The show was so well received by the art community and faculty that each piece was sold by the end of the one-week exhibition. Heather is passionate about evoking an emotional response from her viewers.  Visual art can tell stories and speak to the viewer in a way that can not be put into words.  She has evolved from painting statuesque drapery to fabric in motion.  All have elements of the human figure but are abstracted enough that it causes you to think about what you are looking at.  A lot of what brings Heather’s pieces to life is the light that is captured.  Whether it be refracted light in the shadow of each fold or the light shining through the sheerness of the fabric.  This luminescence gives an enchanting quality to her work.

1. How did your time at California State University Chico shape your art journey and prepare you for the art world?

My time immersed in the art department of California State University Chico and the community within it, helped me get more comfortable in my creative voice through experimentation and group discussions. This allowed me to grow in my practice without focusing on selling work to make a living as an artist.

2.   Light seems pivotal in your work. How do you play with it to bring your pieces to life?

Light is one of the most important pieces of creating the images that I paint from. Whether it be natural light from a window or artificial spotlights to create dynamic shapes and shadows, I am always looking for more ways to use light differently. More recently I have used the lights to highlight the fabric and forms, but removed any direct imagery of the light source. This leaves a more ambiguous quality as to where the figure is or where the light might be coming from.

3. Your art aims to stir emotions in viewers. How do you approach visual storytelling to achieve this?

I tell stories through my works as a collection as well as each piece individually. While I work in collections, I start the collection with a story in mind and then create the images to aid. The title of each piece aims to hint at the story individually as well as help tell a larger story when the pieces are all viewed collectively.

4. Your 2023 solo exhibition “Catharsis” at The Art Haus Bar in Boise, ID, sounds intriguing. Can you share some insights into the themes or emotions you explored through your art in this exhibition, and how it represented a significant milestone in your creative journey?

The exhibition “Catharsis” was a pivotal point in my artistic journey as this collection is the first work that I have created directly related to my childhood trauma, forcing me out of my comfort zone in speaking about it and being vulnerable knowing that the viewers of this work would know this part of my story that I kept secret for so long. After this point, I could only move forward and grow, I could not “un-tell” the story. As a result, I have been overwhelmed with the responses of other viewers who have connected with my work on a deeper level, whether because they share a similar story or relate to it in their own way.

As a woman, I am so grateful that there are more and more organizations like the Arts to Hearts Project that are powerhouses for women in the arts and help so much with visibility and community. Although I do not have specific obstacles that come to mind as a woman, I am also a mother. This has come with some challenges that I have adjusted to as I continue to create work while catering to the needs of my family.

The one thing that I have learned that I wish I had known sooner is that it is good to have other artists to look up to, but every artist’s path is so different that you cannot compare your successes or challenges to theirs. You might see an artist’s social media account and follow and think to yourself that you want to reach that “status”. But, you don’t know what they are not posting, their mental health or financial stability, etc. You just have to do what fuels your soul and motivates you to create work and inspire others.

As we finish our look into Heather Martindale’s art, let’s remember how much it makes us feel. Through her paintings, she shows us that art is about emotions and stories. Heather’s art inspires us to think differently and feel deeply, reminding us of the power of creativity and expression. To know more about Heather, click on the links provided below to visit her profile.

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