Artistic Excellence 2012 | Heather Lara

3rd Place: Heather Lara , California

Heather Lara, A Glimpse of the Past, scratchboard, 16 x 20.

Heather Lara, A Glimpse of the Past, scratchboard, 16 x 20.

What inspired your winning entry? I’ve always been fascinated with cormorants. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a pond with nesting cormorants, and I was shocked the first time I saw them through my zoom lens. With their bright green eyes, scaly beaks, and skin textures, they look so reptilian that you can see evolution in every detail of their faces. I knew I had to make a project out of them. They’re actually very funny birds to watch; they are very vocal and expressive in their movements.

Where did you study art? I went to the University of California, Santa Cruz, as an art major and came out with a degree in biology instead. The art program was a little creepy for a 17-year-old kid away from home for the first time. The few classes I took involved a lot of nude models. I did find some graduate courses in science illustration. These courses taught attention to detail, following fur patterns, muscle structure, and skeletal structure down to the tiniest biological detail, 
and they seemed to fit with my degree.

How would you describe your style? Obsessive-compulsive and neurotically focused on detail.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? Everybody knows everything about me. I’m a consummate over-sharer.

What is your pet peeve? Intolerance. I really wish people would just let everyone live the life they want to live, without trying to control, mandate, criminalize, or ostracize them for it. Love who you want to love, believe in what you want to believe in, and leave everyone else alone.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? A zookeeper. If I couldn’t draw animals, then I’d want to take care of them.

What’s the most meaningful recognition you’ve received for your artwork? The second picture I ever sold is still the most meaningful to me, even though I’ve received dozens of awards and ribbons since then. This young girl in her 20s, who worked in an office somewhere and didn’t make a lot of money, made payments to buy my picture. She told me that when she saw it displayed at a show, it made her cry. All she could do was stare at it and feel complete emotion and a connection to what I created.

What are your goals for the future? I’d like to expand my audience, get represented in a few more galleries, and actually pay my husband back for the art materials I’ve amassed over the years.

What galleries represent your work? Celebration Fine Art Gallery, San Diego, CA.

Featured in the December 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine December 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine December 2012 print edition
Or subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!

Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook