Artist Heather Day’s sunbathed studio in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighbourhood is not the only place she makes art. Balancing her time working indoors and being in nature, Heather has developed a unique visual voice that is as beautiful as it is evocative.
We sat down with her to talk about how the natural world—especially the ocean—resonates through her work, including our collaboration on the limited edition aromaArt: High Tide.
Tell us about your studio space. How does your working environment influence your creative process?
My studio environment has evolved over the years and continues evolving. Right now, the studio represents a mind-map view of the way that I think. It’s a bit chaotic: paint marks on the wall and the floor, canvases in states of flux and art supplies dotting the spaces in between.
My space often influences me in unexpected ways. I’ll notice a mark or a scribble on the wall and I’ll find myself incorporating those marks into a piece. I’m constantly thinking about how to recycle my thoughts and marks, whether those are brush strokes or lines, and bring them back into my paintings.
At the same time, my studio is often times on the road- with a and a sketchbook and whatever trail I find myself on. Spending time exploring outside is important to me because that’s when I look more closely at my surroundings and build moments that I can bring back into my work.
The natural world has a noticeable impact on your work. How do you see nature as an influence in your whole life?
Being outside gives me perspective. Sometimes after being in the studio all day or after a couple months of really hard work, I’ll think, “it’s time to take my studio on the road”. A change of scenery helps me fast-track my thoughts and reminds me that my studio practice is not a formula. Making art in nature fuels my practice and teaches me to step out of my comfort zone.
Your work is full of movement: how does your artistic process support this?
The way I work is very similar to nature. I rely on the element of the accident: I’m pouring and manipulating paint, and sometimes using large buckets of water in a way that lends itself to unexpected results. Ultimately, it’s an energy of push-and-pull, like how a current might work in an ocean or a river, which is representative of how I work through ideas, mentally and physically.
My work requires movement of the mind and the body. The addition of lots of water is reminiscent of flowing rivers or streams. How all of these concepts relate to water is really what grabs my attention and inspires me.
How has making art factored into your life, and how does it create meaning for you?
I’ve been painting most of my life, and went to an art-centered school when I was growing up. Art became a way that I could understand the world around me. Being dyslexic, art helped me interpret my reality conceptually. I could create my own vocabulary and make sense of things. Working visually lets me translate a moment—like taking something I hear or feel and transforming it into something visual. In the future, I can see myself experimenting with form, sound and any other media that speak to me.
Tell us about bringing the aromaArt: High Tide to life. What was the process like for you?
In my work, I am often exploring the relationship between land masses and bodies of water, but with the aromaArt piece I wanted to give the feeling of being underwater. Because the functionality of the Ultrasonic Diffuser is to have water coming from it, it made sense to focus on the experience of being surrounded by the power of the ocean.
Through the creation process, I found myself thinking: what would happen if we could see everything that was going on around us while we were under the waves? I grew up surfing, and so being under the waves is something I relate well with and find it comforting. It’s a soothing, universal thing, like standing on the beach and experiencing the calming influence of the ocean.
What do you see as the common thread throughout your work?
I see all of my work as pages in a sketchbook. As I learn and adapt new ways of expressing myself, I keep furthering a wandering narrative that sometimes moves ahead, and sometimes moves back on itself. It keeps moving, and not often in the linear sense that narrative ideas can sometimes be described.
Check out more of Heather’s nature-inspired work, and her studio space in San Francisco.
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