Heather Coen Paintings Exhibited August - September 2014
Gilbert artist Heather Coen fondly recalls the influence of a mother who had art school training, and who painted in watercolors; Heather feels she “was born with a paint brush in my hand - I really don't recall a time when I wasn't artistically enthralled." Until recently she lived in Colorado, honed her skills painting the Rocky Mountain range, western scenes and wide-open spaces - creating online galleries with her extensive body of work - and a wide network amongst a variety of pastel and plein air societies.
Now living in the East Valley, she has spent 2012-2013 studying and painting the beauty of our Sonoran Desert.
A range of her new works in oil and watercolor were exhibited during September 2014 in the art gallery at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, where she was the featured artist .
Plein air painting outdoors is among her favorite ways to create new works.
“I feel most at home in a natural environment, not restricted by walls or buildings. I do studio work, but feel happiest when I am outdoors. One time I got so zoned into my pastel painting that I did not realize two buses full of Japanese tourists had unloaded behind me and they were all standing behind me with their cameras at the ready. I took a couple of steps backwards and fell over a kindly gentleman. They got some wonderful pictures of me laying on the ground with my unfinished work still on the easel in back of me. Then there was the photo session that ensued afterwards. I had so much fun with them; I now encourage anyone that wants to watch to stay as long as they feel comfortable. I often do plein air events, quick draws and demonstrations for anyone interested.”
Read more about Heather in her Enewsletter. Juried into 25 national and international shows in the last 36 months, she has attained 'Master Signature Circle' status with Paint America, and a 'Signature Membership' in The Pastel Society of Colorado and Plein Air Artists of Colorado. She currently has work in eight galleries across four states, and 2014 has been a busy year for Heather - in addition to being juried into numerous venues she earned a Silver Award in the prestigious Plein Air Rockies exhibition and First place in Wyoming’s “Prairies to Peaks." Most recently interviewed in 'Southwest Art' magazine, she's also been profiled in Art Collector, Art of the West, Colored Pencil, and Pastel Journal. Heather and her husband, Richard, live in Gilbert with their beloved basset hounds, Mallory and Lily Belle. See more works on her website; email her about commissions at email@example.com
or call (970)361-4268
With a background in engineering and photography, Coen worked in research and development for Hewlett Packard before launching her own photography and writing business - then venturing into real estate. A variety of jobs that still allowed her to focus was on her dream of being a full time artist. “I faithfully saved everything I could, my whole thought was that the future would open the doors to my artistic career. Early in my life, I was able to apprentice to two master artists that I knew were successful and well respected and spent three years part time with each of them. The practice of being an apprentice is not being used by artists anymore and I am so glad I got the ground work and the discipline to learn from these incredible artists before I started my hundred miles of canvas. That saying means that before you really can be successful as an artist, you must learn by painting through 100 miles of canvas so that color, composition, value and beauty flow from your brush naturally.”
In 2013, Heather decided her savings were sufficient and the 100 miles of canvas complete; she moved from Denver, Colorado to Gilbert. “Having been successful as an artist in Colorado did not translate to the desert environment very well.” Soon she realized that part of her past accomplishments were reflected by networking within the community. “I also did not realize how extremely different the environment in Phoenix would affect my work.
Somehow I thought that the desert only had certain special adapted animals and birds. Then I happened upon Boyce Thompson Arboretum.”
“I walked through the Park last December in awe as the tourguide talked about the ‘Plants On The Bible Land” on a themed tour; the next time I visited, I saw a bright red cardinal in the Butterfly Garden, a squirrel in the cactus, a field of wild flowers in the Demonstration Garden and I was totally stunned. The oasis planted so long ago by Boyce Thompson has more than exceeded his ambitions: The visitors in this garden went beyond humans as the migrating birds found water and rest, the butterflies and bees flourished, the carefully planted trees matured into homes and rest spots for all kinds of species becoming islands of green dappled shade. I would actually live on the grounds if I could and I would never be able to finish the paintings I can visualize in this slice of paradise. I would never have guessed anything like this garden was possible in such a hot and dry environment. It is almost a dichotomy as you look through the green lush trees to Magma Ridge in the background. It only shows what mankind could do if we let vision and a little water transform the desert into paradise. I had no clue when I landed here! ”
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