It’s quite hard to write about someone you admire and truly adore. I first met Heather Day when she applied for an internship here at Sacramento Street. Let’s just say, I don’t know what I’d do without her help. But what many of you might not know is Heather’s has an incredible artistic side. Heather is a talented artist that I think all of you need to know about.
When I first saw one of Heather’s paintings I was in awe of the way she layered the paint. Her paintings are fresh and calming, but at the same time they are loaded with depth and emotion. Read on to get an inside glimpse into her stunning studio and where she finds her inspiration.
We love your Oakland Studio. Can you tell us more about it?
I’m so lucky to have found this gem in the bay area. It used to be a custom tool shop for manufactured specialty automotive parts and license plates. A few years ago it was converted into a studio building and today there are over 25 artists involved in the community. It really is my dream space. After moving to San Francisco from Baltimore, I never thought I would be able to find a large enough work space without sacrificing good lighting, design and a budget.
What’s your average week like?
I’m typically in the studio Monday through Friday. Lately, I have made an effort to take weekends off, but I sometimes find myself back in the studio painting on a Sunday afternoon. By the time I get to the studio, I have usually checked email and created a to-do list for the day. The first couple hours are spent updating the website, social media and responding to clients, vendors or galleries. When I’m not in the studio, I’ll spend my time scheduling meetings with clients or working at Cafe’s in San Francisco. I’m not a coffee drinker but I can tell you the best places to grab a hot chocolate in the Mission District!
When did you decide to become an artist and practice art full time?
This is a loaded question. I’ve been painting for a while now. I like to think that I got a jumpstart on my career when I lived in Chicago and attended an arts high school before going to an arts college in Baltimore. After moving to San Francisco, I worked full time in the design center and spent evenings in the studio. I did this for almost two years while networking with clients and galleries before making the big jump as a full time artist.
Can you tell us a little bit about your paintings and the process?
I typically have about 5-10 paintings in progress at any given time. I begin drawing a quick gesture on paper or stitching an organic line across the canvas. This allows me to address the blank space and begin reacting to the simple moments I have already created. I continue building on this history by pouring and manipulating layers of paint. The result is a product of an experience, leaving behind documentation of how the event transpired. My paintings are never planned. Every mark creates a series of expectations similar to a conversation. When a question is asked, an answer is anticipated. The compositions often act as pages requiring several in a series to tell a story.
Where do you see your work going next?
I’m currently working on a project where I’m recycling older paintings on paper into an installation. I am exploring ways to break the average rectangular composition of a painting. Why not let the painting become its own shape? I figured since my work tends to be rather organic, I shouldn’t let the framework of the paintings be so confined in a solid shape. With this concept in mind, I’m also building larger paintings where it feels like the edge of the painting doesn’t really matter. Jackson Pollack explored this idea in his work a lot. He rarely touched the edges of the paintings because it was more about the fluidity of his body. If he was standing in the middle of the painting then the paint only went as far as his arms could reach.
Speaking of Jackson Pollack, where else do you find inspiration?
My favorite artists are Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler. Aside from painters, I really enjoy the film by directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Mike Nichols, Spike Jonz and Wes Anderson. I wouldn’t normally pair painting with film but I can’t help but notice similarities when it comes to color and composition. Aside from art and design, a lot of my inspiration comes from traveling and interacting with new people.
Photos by Caitlin Flemming