Friday, May 21, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Heather Shoal

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Heather's painting "Pink Gooseberry" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Heather's DPW Gallery Page:

I worked in education for nearly 20 years until my life took an abrupt turn and grief prompted me to explore art. I began painting in 2016 but it wasn't until 2020 that I adopted the daily painting philosophy. While the pandemic actually made it easier for me to stick to this new schedule, the darkness of the year made me determined to bring some light to it.  My bright, happy paintings are my own form of peaceful protest. (I see your darkness and I raise you a painting of a polka dotted tea cup! LOL). (click to read more)

What did you want to be growing up?

I don’t recall being too set on any career when I was young, although at one point I remember wanting to go to the Art Institute of Seattle for Fashion or Interior Design. My initial major in college was journalism, but I ended up switching to the more practical field of elementary education, knowing I would be moving back to my small home town in Montana with my husband after college.

Pink Gooseberry
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Heather's interview.

When did your artistic journey begin?

Growing up the daughter of a career artist, art shows/galleries/museums were a part of our family life, but I never really considered art for myself. It wasn’t until 5 years ago, that I took Tamara Laporte’s yearlong online Lifebook class as a sort of art therapy while going through a rough time in my life. It was such a fun, positive experience which strengthened my confidence and skills and led to more and more online classes. I was the queen of taking online classes for the next few years but wasn’t yet at the point where I could create art that was “mine.”

In 2020 I read Carol Marine’s book “Daily Painting” and was very intrigued by the idea of painting small on a daily basis. I took Flora Bowley’s Fresh Paint course which encouraged painting 100 9x9” paintings on watercolor paper, ensuring that no one painting becomes too “precious”- that got me churning out some work. Finally, it was Debbie Miller’s “Cups and Mugs” class that sealed the deal. Not only is she a daily painter but those teacups just did it for me! I learned how to set up still life scenarios of my own and off I went! Devoting myself to daily painting, along with finding the subjects that brought me joy to paint led to my own style starting to form without me even realizing it. I guess I can also thank a year of Covid lockdown to really give me the time to buckle down, experiment, and grow. I reached my goal of creating a body of work by January 1, 2021 to join the Daily Paintworks website and it has been amazing!

#23 Terrace View
(click to view)

Did you have long periods without creative expression? How did you get back on the horse?

I’m new to the art game, but years of both teaching and parenting gave me many opportunities to be creative (i.e. “crafty”). Those college years were probably the least creative of my life.

What mediums and genres do you gravitate toward? Which ones don’t appeal?

I use primarily acrylics, but enjoy mixed media as well. I love collage. I would like to try oils, but at this point I have neither the patience nor the space to let them dry!

Eye of the Beholder
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

It’s frustrating as a beginner artist trying to find your style. I read somewhere that style comes naturally out of the joy of painting- and not forcing it. I feel like this is true, but it’s still not easy. There were a few techniques I knew I liked, but it wasn’t until I found a subject matter that I loved painting enough to lose myself in, and then put in the time, that a style of my own emerged. The first time someone commented that they could always recognize my work, I was like, “Really? Wow!”

Name an artist (or artists), well-known or not, who you admire. Why?

I admire my dad, Michael Westergard, for really taking a chance and becoming a full time artist when he had a young family. That’s a gutsy move! He has continued to stay true to his own vision for his art (and how he chooses to market it) throughout his career and showed me that a successful artist doesn’t have to bow down to what the “art world” tells you you should be doing. Plus, his work is amazing! Thanks, Dad, for any artistic genes you sent my way. :)

Orange Slice of Heaven
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self — what would that be?

Your work doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s more interesting if it’s not! It’s been said that there are 1,000 bad paintings inside every artist so if you screw one up - who cares! - just subtract it from your 1,000 and move on. If you loosen up and have fun, the joy you are feeling will shine through in your paintings and others will see it.

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

This is a hard one, but I try to remind myself that you can’t draw from a well that’s dry. It’s ok to take a break - although when you are committed to daily painting it’s easy to be critical of yourself for taking time off. I clean, catch up on computer work, watch some Netflix, do a little thrift shopping for new still life props and try to have faith that my mojo will return. Sometimes creating a collage out of magazine pictures or taking one of those many online classes I haven’t yet completed helps jump start creativity.

(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

Honor those ebbs and flows and remember that everything is temporary. If it feels like you are pushing a rock up a hill, you are on the wrong path. Go WITH the flow. And visualization works wonders too.

What are some of your long and short term goals for yourself or your art?

Paint looser!!!

It's All Complimentary
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

Success means finding joy as I paint and transferring that joy to others who buy my paintings. Creating uplifting work and sharing happiness is my goal. I always wonder who that person is that I’m painting for as I’m working on a project. It’s exciting when it sells and I find out!

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

Launching my website has been my proudest moment so far, but every time I sell a painting is momentous!

Pink Shakers
(click to view)

Thanks, Heather!

© 2021 Sophie Marine


  1. Inspiring interview, Heather.

  2. You are so articulate and love your positive view! Your art is amazing, strong design!

  3. This is such an interesting interview, Heather. I admire the way you developed your approach to daily painting and how you describe the growth of your style. Steady work does the trick.

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