A passion for light and shadow
This story was featured in the October 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story
Colorado artist Heather Arenas calls herself a “light-and-shadow girl. The way light hits something can send shivers down my spine,” she says. “These are the [scenes] I have to paint. And one of my goals is to say more with a painting than can be said with a photograph.”
Arenas also considers herself an impressionist, but she stops short of describing her work further, preferring, she says, “to just paint.” Although she studied art in high school and college, she attributes most of her art education to independent study. Like many painters, she considers herself a lifetime student of art, often acquiring knowledge from other artists. But by far the most significant influence on her artwork, she says, was workshops she took with fellow Colorado painter Kim English, who helped her execute the proportions in her work accurately. “I could then move on to making good paintings without getting hung up on whether an arm is too long or short,” she says.
Arenas’ oeuvre showcases a wide variety of subject matter, including street scenes, restaurant interiors, portraits of flamenco dancers, storefronts, trailers, and western landscapes featuring granite rocks and backcountry roads. When she paints figurative works, she relishes creating a gesture, movement, or expression with as few brush strokes as possible. “It is a form of nonverbal language that I can create that no one else ever can exactly, not even in a photograph,” Arenas says.
As for street scenes, the artist loves the challenge of evoking a sense of place, capturing a fleeting moment in time, and conveying the experience of being present in the scene. “I want to paint stories the best I can,” Arenas says. “I want the viewer to keep looking and enjoying my work for years into owning the piece—not just because it is technically sound, but also because I’ve connected with them somehow through the story.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the October 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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