Heather Day

American painter Heather Day creates her own abstract language, balancing the movement of lines with the rigidity of structured form.

Day’s work is incredibly textural, layering intricate brushwork and pencil drawing over broad washes of colour. Negative space plays an important role, with raw, unprimed canvas often visible underneath her painted  compositions. Day’s influence stems from both the insular world of her studio and her natural surroundings to push her work forward she might turn to an unresolved idea on a test canvas, or separate herself completely from the studio by walking through her neighbourhood.

  • Solo show Woolgatherers: New Paintings by Heather Day at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, 2020.
  • Solo show Ricochet at Diane Rosenstein Gallery, Los Angeles, 2020.
  • Collaboration with Google, Google Pixel ‘Not Pink’ My Cases, 2020.
  • Collaboration with Facebook, Creating the Worlds First Augmented Reality Art for Facebook Camera, 2020.
  • Collections inc. Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fidelity Investments, Chicago Philharmonic, The Ritz-Carlton, Seoul Hospital, JCrew, AirBnB, Dropbox, Warner Brothers, Facebook, Youtube, and Google.
Heather Day, Fever Dream, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Day is also inspired by modern and contemporary painting, from the expressionism of Helen Frankenthaler to the colourful abstraction of Katharina Grosse and Sam Gilliam, seeing her work as a form of “abstract storytelling” which transposes her personal experiences of nature into shape, line and colour. As a child Day struggled with dyslexia, which made her feel like she experienced the world differently to those around her. In her adult life, she became driven to make what she had once thought of as a disability into a strength.

“I never want to create formulaic art, and thanks to accidents, I never will.”

In Peace Piece (2020) a wide yellow brush stroke at the top of the canvas moves briskly through to green on the right, and bleeds into pink and yellow liquid pools at the bottom of the composition. A few minimal splatters leave the vibrant mark of a spontaneous movement, while a confident black line cuts sharply through the warm tones behind it. In the same way that words can be both direct and poetic, the work is tied to the physical act of painting as well as the symbolic act of challenging normative modes of logic. In an exquisite balance of harmony and contrast, Day writes her own wordless vocabulary.

Piece Peace
Heather Day, Peace Piece, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.
Heather Day, Unfold, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Day treats each new work as a sketch that helps her to map the next step of her practice. In the studio she works on up to twenty pieces at a time, adjusting processes along the way and learning from unexpected outcomes. In this sense, layers are built across her entire practice much as they are in each individual painting.

“I feel like I just took a photograph of my mind and put it onto canvas.”

This process has no end point or goal, but instead is constantly accumulating and evolving, akin to the earth’s sedimentary layers or the rings of a tree trunk. Of nature, Day says “it contains so many juxtapositions: it can be serene and chaotic, it can be creative and destructive.” Much the same can be said of her work — a forever-shifting equilibrium of tone, texture and form.

Heather Day, Halcyonic Evening, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

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