March is Women’s History Month,
and while we can learn so much from the past, I’ve been especially amazed at the women in my life today. My peers are incredible and inspiring. The women of this generation are special spirits who are going to accomplish incredible things and bring about much needed change.
Unfortunately, it seems the spotlight often shines on competition and cattiness. March becomes a month to debate women’s rights and the feminist movement. While the topic has its place, the world tends to see the worst in people.
I want to change the narrative this month, and focus in on a few of the amazing women in my life who have profound effect on their families, friends, communities, and who have been gracious enough to share their art with me.
Some of them don’t really consider themselves “artists”, but I’ve never felt that professional accolades are necessary prerequisites to earn the term. These are real women who find joy in creation. They find beauty in the chaos and manage to bring it to life.
It is this sort of vision and insight that will make the world a better place.
First up is my friend Heather Ray Anderson. She is a wife and mother, soon expecting her second daughter, and an amazing painter when she finds the time.
Here’s what she had to say:
What is your medium of choice?
I normally would say that oil paint is my favorite medium, but just in this past year I have been exploring water color.
I have fallen in love with this light, yet vibrant medium. I have much to learn about using watercolor but am loving the process.
I love oil paint because of how long you can work with it. I love that you can add dimension to your painting by applying thick layers of paint. I feel that with oil I can focus on more details than I can with any other medium.
How would you describe your artwork?
I love realism.
For me there is nothing as satisfying as being able to portray something as it really is. Of course, I do like to put in my own interpretation of an event or figure, but I want it to look as natural and realistic as possible.
What originally got you interested in this type of art?
My love for realism started when I was young.
My dad is a very talented artist, who unfortunately does not work on art very often. Luckily, I found his old sketch books and was amazed at his ability to draw cars, horses, and people.
My older brother is also extremely talented and would do incredible pieces. I would check out drawing books from the library trying to master how to draw horses and other animals.
I love how realism portrays things as they really are. It allows the human mind to take in both the beautiful and the ugly.
I believe this can be applied to life in general.
The truth is life can be hard. I learned that it is okay and quite normal that it is hard. It is okay to be sad, disappointed, frustrated, heartbroken. These are normal emotions that all people experience at some point in their lives, and we need to be able to allow them to shape us.
There is a beauty in facing both sides of the emotional spectrum that helps us figure out what we truly believe and who we are.
Realism embraces both the flaws and natural beauty of the world around us.
What does your art mean to you? Why do you do it?
There are not many things in this life over which we have total control. Art is a place where I feel I have the control.
I love being able to make the decisions of where I want a piece to go, or what feeling or thought I want it to evoke.
I do art because I get to choose how something is portrayed. An artist can weed out what things may be distracting to the viewer and focus on what is important to guide a person to have a thought or feeling.
I do art because I feel fulfilled and satisfied helping a white canvas live up to its potential.
Any favorite resources (products, tools, websites, books, etc)?
One of my favorite products to use with watercolor is bamboo brushes! These brushes load so much paint and water. You can get a brilliant thin line from them, which is extremely satisfying when doing details.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am a mother of a two-year-old and am expecting a baby in April.
Currently life consists of playing Barbies, coloring Disney princesses, trying to remove all the dinosaur stickers off places they do not belong, and loving baby kicks to the ribs.
My daughter loves art as well even at the young age of two. I try to do art with her in many forms as much as I can to help her explore and develop her creativity.
I spend nights staying up late working on art once she is in bed to avoid water being spilled all over my projects when she is trying to “help me”.
What do you think being a woman brings to your art?
I don’t know if I could say what being a woman has brought to my art, but I do know what being a mother has brought to my art.
In these short two and a half years of being a mother, I have done more art than any other period of life. Partially because never have I had so much time to think about things, but mostly because never have I had such a strong longing to create with my hands and express myself.
Becoming a mother is hard! It is much more than just having a baby. It is years of learning how to sacrifice day after day, and sometimes hour after hour.
It is learning how to be selfless and put another individual first.
Honestly, becoming a mother has not been the most natural process for me. This refinement process of helping the mother come out in me has been inspiring. Over time I do see the changes in myself, and that brings so much joy.
Maybe I am trying to prove to myself that just as a blank canvas can become something beautiful and thought provoking, so can a new, scared mother become a strong, confident, and influential guardian to their child.
If you’d like to contact Heather with questions or commissions, you can find her on Facebook here.