She sculpts, paints, sketches and makes jewelry. This talented Yukoner goes by the name of Heidi Hehn. Some of you may recognize the name from her various raven paintings. When I first arrived in the Yukon two years ago, the first thing I noticed at the gift shop was the famous painting of a pick up truck with some ravens hanging out, painted by Hehn.
In April of this year Hehn will be hosting a solo show at the Yukon Artists at Work Gallery, promising new and exciting pieces. Aside from painting Yukon’s official bird, Hehn has a whole lot more diversity in her work.
Mountains, lakes, wilderness and wildlife are all captured on Hehn’s canvas. The inspiration is as follows, “the eerily strange light of the long winter days and the long summer nights, and the fact that such a vast and open space is ripe with a lot of stories… and the history and pre-history provide even more story ops,” she says.
But Hehn’s overall interest in the great North goes back to her childhood. Her father was stationed in the North with the air force. Here she was exposed to native art and beadwork. This would later further her interest in creating jewelry. Her father also sculpted and painted, and taught her many different techniques along the way.
Every artist knows that mediums are just as important as the painting itself. Hehn’s earliest memory goes back to when she was a toddler, and played with watercolours. To this day watercolours play an important part in her artwork. Hehn also like to work with clay and create sculptures, and she is well known for her handmade jewelry. “I am inspired by styles from the Southwest deserts, and ancient Egypt. Learning about these ancient civilizations have even got me thinking of ideas for a novel.”
In addition to choosing her own painting ideas, Hehn also accepts commissions, which she enjoys doing. “There the ideas are as endless as the North. I start by abstracting the scene I want to paint. And when that is right for colour and balance I go to the finishing stage.”
Hehn says that one of her most challenging pieces was a commission, in which she had to paint a convertible automobile from the 1930s with a historical building backdrop. This piece sort of brought Hehn out of her comfort zone. Not used to having to paint historical building, she had to do a lot of research. But she also had to play around with colours, as the car was meant to be the focal point of the piece. In the end, it turned out fantastic.
Given the many decades Hehn has been painting for, there is one style she has not really tried — abstraction. The gifted artist has her reason: “Abstraction is the first stage of beginning painting, so to stop at that stage for me is like not finishing the project, but I do enjoy doing magical realism.”
For more information about Heidi, please visit, www.wildartsweb.com.