Heather Day, Painter

Heather Day doesn't plan paintings. Each one captures the moment of its creation and becomes an essential aspect of the story she tells through art. Experimenting with layering of materials and the action of painting itself, this Bay Area artist is getting her work out there - something many struggle to do. Today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside Heather Day's sun-drenched studio to hear what she has to say about dressing comfortably, turning sound into imagery, and how believing in yourself is the first step towards success. Enjoy!

LSG: Hi, Heather! Thanks for having us! What brought you to the Bay Area?

I’m originally from Hawaii, but moved around quite a bit as a kid. I spent most of my childhood just outside of Washington DC, and I went to an arts high school in Chicago.  I studied painting and art history at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Shortly after graduating college, I made the jump and moved cross-country to San Francisco. I have lived in the bay area for almost three years!

LSG: When did you know a career in the art world was for you?

I have been seriously pursuing painting since high school. I’m sure a lot of artists can probably relate to this, but there was always a lingering question on whether or not it was a sustainable career. I always had other career options on the back burner.

LSG: Tell us about the mediums you choose to work with and why?

My primary medium is acrylic paint. I also use pastels, graphite, thread, and charcoal. My newest favorite medium is spray paint. As the scale of my work has gotten larger, I have also been forced to shift materials to maintain the level of energy without losing the mark in a larger sized canvas.

LSG: Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it? Can you take us through your process and concept?

This question is difficult. My first thoughts, when someone asks this, is "well, do they want the taxi ride pitch or the real deal?" I’ll tell you what I’ve been thinking about lately.

I’m inspired by everyday abstractions and how those moments relate to personal relationships. I’m constantly taking note of color and texture and thinking about how that would translate into painting. My work isn’t very complicated. It’s simply about the act of painting. Making a mark and reacting.

LSG: You mentioned being influenced by sound, how does that work?

Sound is a new concept in my work. Rather than seeing a texture on a wall. I like to think about how sound can translate to color or something linear.


LSG: Can you speak to your relationship with creative struggle?

The biggest creative struggle for me is when I’m working on a large canvas, and the piece is about half way there. Sometimes I freeze, and I’m not sure what to do next. It’s so easy to fall in love with a mark or how the paint pours onto the canvas. The question for me is always how to take it to the next level without overworking the painting.

LSG: What do you have to say to those trying to “make it” in creative fields?

So many things! Confidence is key. You need to stand behind what you do 100% before you can convince others and make a living doing it.

LSG: What is your relationship with fashion like? How do/do you see fashion intersect with art?

My relationship with fashion has always been rather minimal and neutral in color. I’m constantly concerned about color and composition. I’d rather not think about it when approaching fashion. It’s distracting. The simpler the clothes, the better.

LSG: What are some of the most important things you look for in a clothing item when shopping?

 Comfort and confidence. I want to feel good in what I’m wearing.


LSG: Why do you choose to live in SF but have a studio in Oakland?

When I first moved to the bay area, I was living in Oakland for the first year. I moved to San Francisco expecting to eventually move my studio here too. That changed as I started looking for studios in SF. The spaces don’t compare to what I have in Oakland at Norton Factory Studios. It's a blessing in disguise. I enjoy being part of the art scenes in two different cities and appreciate the growing art community in my studio.

LSG: Is there anything special in your studio’s neighborhood that we should check out?

Yes! There is a brewery that just moved in next door. It’s called Ale Industries, and they have a rad happy hour.

LSG: Where might one find you on a sunny day off?

A day off? That sounds amazing! If it were 75 degrees and sunny, you’d probably find me picnicking with friends at Dolores Park or biking along the coast.

Interview: Olivia La Roche  Design: Alaia Manley

Interview: Olivia La Roche

Design: Alaia Manley