Q&A: Fine Art Artist, Heather Arenas

Q&A: Fine Art Artist, Heather Arenas August 28, 2018
I've Got This. 30x22 inch. Oil on cradled wood.

1 – Please, tell us about your career as an artist, your education, and how you got started.

I have been an artist my whole life. However, I started to consider myself a professional artist in my late 30s. I had taken a few classes in high school and college but only started reading and practicing intensely when I realized I wanted to make a career out of it. When I started to pursue a career in the Arts, I came to the realization that I had only heard negative comments about attending art school, so I decided to do research on my own.  I also took a few workshops from artists I respected and read books from others such as C. Hawthorne, R. Henri, J. Gurney, J. Carlson, and R. Schmid.

2 – What inspires you?

I am inspired by how the light hits an object or person more than anything else. There is a wealth of story and technique to be derived from this.

3 – What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

Touching art in some way every day keeps me motivated. I keep regular working hours, and I don’t wait to be inspired to paint. The act of painting is inspirational in itself. I try to do it every day and see where it takes me.

Carousel. 14x18 inch. Oil on birch.

4- How do you manage to stay both personal and original in your creative work?

I can’t say that everything I paint is personal or original because some of it is just practice for the ones that really take thought. I attend portrait and figure drawing sessions as well as paint en plein air as a way to strengthen my skills. In my studio, when I have time to really think and plan, that’s where the real me comes out in my work. The practice makes the studio pieces that much stronger, and I don’t have to question whether I know how to paint something. Instead, I can think about why I’m painting something.

5 – What kind of things do you do to get your “creative juices” flowing?

I love visiting museums and looking at art different from my own. People have done some amazing things out there! I get a feeling of: “If they can do X, what’s stopping me from doing Y?”

6 – Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?

I wouldn’t say that I have doubted my talent, but I have realized on more than one occasion that I have more to learn. I don’t think I will ever know all there is to know when it comes to my art.

Get Your Greens Here. 12x24 INCH. Oil on cradled wood.

7- Were you ever discouraged? If so, how did it affect your creativity?

In my experience, artists can be fragile creatures, including me. I have found competitions to be the most discouraging, so I limit the number of shows that I participate in. Any given competition rarely hits the mark as far as my direction as an artist goes. It is unlikely that I will be awarded in one that has a narrow focus. When I enter competitions, it’s usually because I believe in the organization and want to participate in making it successful. Ultimately, my reward comes from a collector buying my work and connecting with it.

8- Are you ever concerned about being judged by others or worried about how your creativity is perceived?

I’m not afraid to be judged by others, but I certainly keep it in perspective. I often say that if we all painted the same, we would have never had Egon Schiele or Vincent Van Gogh. My vision as an artist may be different from theirs, but I think there is room for all. I will consider any constructive comments given to me, but might not always do something about it.

Wandu Cafe Curacao. 14x18 inch. Oil on birch.

9 – Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?

My husband, John, has been my support through good times and bad. Making a living as an artist is challenging, and he has never once said, “You should get a job,” even when I have thought about it.

10- What do you feel has been your most significant achievement as a professional artist?

Helping other artists. I was able to pursue art because of all the help that I received from other artists when I was starting out. I am always willing to answer questions and offer advice to fellow artists. I don’t think that I know everything, but I will try to help if I can. It is very satisfying to see someone that I’ve helped succeed.

11 – What is the best advice that you have been given creatively?

When you don’t know what to do or if you feel blocked, just start painting something, anything. Putting brush to canvas is the best way to get the ball rolling.

Red in the Sun. 48x24. Oil on cradled wood.

12 – What advice would you give to people following in your footsteps?

Go after what you want and don’t be afraid to adjust the plan along the way.

13- If you could change one aspect of our society through your work, what would it be?

I would encourage more people to trust that what they have to say with their art is valuable. They may only do it for themselves, or they may put it out to the public; nevertheless, the value comes from the satisfaction of making something out of nothing but an idea.

14- How do you want people to remember you?

I want my work to stand out as being done by me. There are artists in history whose work is instantly recognizable. This is what I aspire to. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I’m working on it. -GM

For more about Heather Arenas, visit her official website:

Heave Ho. 28x20 inch. Oil on canvas.
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