heather kehney


One summer day in 2005 I decided I wanted to start painting. I had a table, some acrylics and brushes, blank canvas, and an idea to paint three yellow birds. It was so challenging and fun for me to try to manipulate the colors into shapes, but what held my interest the most was the way the yellow popped!

That week I completed four more paintings, each one an abstract piece illustrating one color. There was a sense of freedom when I stepped away from form and put the emphasis on color.  This got me hooked. It felt like a new world had opened itself to me and I wanted to know more.

For the next few years I spent hours painting daily (and baking nightly for income) to continue exploring the relationships between colors.  I discovered the challenges of finding a composition in abstract form, and saw how influential texture can be. Eventually I switched from acrylics to rich, buttery oils, slathering the canvas with paint loaded thickly on palette knives.  I began to notice a feeling of completion within after I was able to find balance on the canvas. This did not come easily, but I loved the challenge and wanted to know more about this creative process.

I applied to art school and spent one year studying at MassArt in Boston, Massachusetts. Here I learned that I could draw, but it didn’t come easily to me like it did with other students. What did come naturally for me was color and abstraction. On the train rides to and from school I would draw shapes resembling abstract versions of people, flowers, plants, birds and the scenery. I began to incorporate more drawing into my paintings. This was valuable for the development of my art, but what became most important to me then was the element of freedom. I wanted to keep my experience with the process personal and completely unrestricted.

In addition to learning technique I was becoming more aware of how painting was helping me communicate. The canvas was providing a space for the places in me that had never found a voice. Expressing myself through color came very naturally to me and as I continued to share my work with my community, I realized that a connection was being made with the viewers. People would tell me what they saw and felt and would sometimes reveal something new to me. This was exciting for me and still is!

Today my studio continues to be a sacred playground for me where I can lean into my intuition for guidance. Each session is like approaching a new experiment. Sometimes it begins with a pull toward a certain color or combinations of colors that I want to see. Sometimes there is a buildup of energy within me that needs to be released on to the canvas. Sometimes I am not inspired, but I still show up to see what will happen. Typically though, I find inspiration easily. I am a very visual person often seeing beauty in atypical places. Nature provides nourishment for creativity. I always have music on while painting which helps me tap into my emotions and not over-think the process too much. Although I paint for myself, my wish is to evoke something in the viewer, a feeling or mood connecting us, and ultimately my goal is to share my work with the world.

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