Thursday, June 9, 2011

Artist Interview: Kristy Heilenday

What is your name: Kristy Heilenday

Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: I thought I could just teach myself in my spare time, but thankfully I came to my senses my senior year of high school and decided to pursue art in university, as well. I attended Virginia Commonwealth University and got my BFA in Communication Arts (Illustration).

What is the style of your pieces: Largely figural. I enjoy drawing and painting people and objects from life (or from photos I’ve taken) then adding abstract elements.

What is the medium in which you work: I mostly use acrylics when I’m doing quick, playful paintings for myself, and oils when I want to spend a little more time on the work and also for most commissioned pieces.

What started you on your path as an artist: I was always into drawing growing up, but never took it too seriously. My art teacher in high school influenced me to pursue fine arts in college as a career path, where I likely otherwise would have ended up with a biology, or maybe marketing/advertising degree (ew).

What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: Good question! If life is all about connections, as I believe, my artwork is just another way to connect and relate to other people. This includes the references I use for my work, the experiences while creating, and then talking about and sharing my work with others post-production.

What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in: I’m not positive I have a specific genre, since my work is stylistically somewhat diverse. But my favorite genre is probably the figural Post-Impressionist work in the early 19th-century, and also very much Pop Art.

Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: Yes, I generally show in group shows. I have submitted internationally a couple times, a practice I hope to grow significantly over the next few years.

Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: I am constantly creating new “painting clothes”!! Aka getting paint on clothes that I would otherwise not willfully sacrifice. I worked at Starbucks for a while, and frequently wear those green aprons in my studio. But now that I’m painting more and trying to curb my clothing losses, I occasionally wear a full-length flight suit, just to cover all my bases.

What has been the most frustrating part of being an artist? Not being able to produce exactly what I envision! Usually I paint intuitively, but when I do start with a plan, it always morphs and evolves, which is both good and frustrating.

What is your favorite sandwich of all time: Grilled Cheese. You cannot go wrong. Left to my own devices, I tend to eat like a 9 year old.

Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they: Yes, I finally got a studio space separate from my home. It’s really allowed me to branch out in regards to scale and medium. It’s hard to set up a spot for oil painting in your bedroom… but now I don’t have to worry so much about killing my roommates with spilled paint and diffused turpentine fumes.

Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: Today, Gustav Klimt.

What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person: Perhaps Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. A professor I greatly admire gave a lecture on Hopper, and focused largely on this painting. So when I finally got to see it in person, I was blown away. That's a hard question though, I'd need to sleep on it.

Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: No animals, just boyfriends. They usually give me lots of compliments.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: Yes, this week marks the opening of the Richmond Illustrator’s Club (of which I am a member) Annual Juried Show, at Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.

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