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November 14, 2013

Local artist draws inspiration from life, motion

Cooperstown artist Christine Heller has recently returned from a residency at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

“This was a great experience,” said Heller, a painter, three dimensional artist and muralist whose work has been exhibited across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Heller spent over a month as a artist-in-residence at Roanoke College. From Aug. 28 to early October, Heller and her work became entwined with the workings of the college.

“I really put myself into the life there,” said Heller.

Heller lived in faculty housing and ate at the campus cafeteria while she did her residency. Her first task when she arrived was to paint a 10 foot by 26 foot mural for her exhibition “Life/Body/Action/Time.” Heller said that she was given eight days to complete the mural, and that the deadline didn’t phase her, as she enjoys working under pressure

Heller begins her murals by projecting sketches of figures onto a wall with a projector. Heller has hundred of figures that she’s drawn over the years stored on her computer. Some of these sketches were done of posing models, while others were made of people she sketched in cafes, but the vast majority of them were drawn from photographs.

“I’m always collecting photographs,” said Heller, who says that she often draws inspiration from photos of athletes, and still picks up physical copies of the New York Times for the photographs, even though she has a digital subscription.

After projecting the figures onto a wall, Heller will sketch them in white chalk. Once she is satisfied with the proportions of a figure, Heller says she usually goes over the chalk with charcoal. She then may finish a figure in paint. Heller likes to have a wide variety of figures in her murals, and prefers to draw them life size.

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