Artist Q&A: Heather Vitticore

 

Where do you live/work?

My family and I live in the village of Fairport, NY; a beautiful and peaceful village along the Erie Canal outside of Rochester. I create my artwork in a dedicated space in our home, but when the weather is nice, I love drawing and painting on our porch with all the natural light coming in. 

What themes do you explore in your work?

My work is really an appreciation for things found in nature... flowers, animals, landscapes. What I enjoy most while creating is playing with linework and color mixing. Adding weight to my linework to create a sense of volume and movement. Experimenting with overlapping watercolors to create new hues and textures. I'm always in awe of the juxtaposition of colors found in nature... how within a petal you can find a bright green morphing into a deep magenta. It's a fun challenge to try to recreate those colors and bring to the forefront some of the more subtle colors. 

What has your art journey been like? 

I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore after high school. Originally I thought I'd major in Graphic Design, so that I may be better set up to get a job after art school. This is also back in the days when Apple was just emerging with those big bubble-like teal iMacs (during the days of dial-up and pre-cell phones... I'll let you guess what year it was). But while reading through the pamphlet at the end of my Freshman year, when I needed to claim my major, I read the description about Illustration. Instead of being computer-based, it was much more focused on drawing and painting, while also conveying a story. That was it. I declared my major in Illustration and enjoyed every moment of it alongside our small, but mighty, group of talented classmates. After MICA, I balanced some freelance illustration jobs with some retail/restaurant/office jobs on the side. Unsure of what to do with myself after a year, I moved from Baltimore to Brookyln, NY. Continuing the same path, but now in a very small apartment and no longer around other artists, I needed to refocus and step outside myself. I started volunteering with a community arts program in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, called ECHO Prosocial Gallery. We worked with kids in the area, conceptualizing and creating mosaic sculptures that were placed in a local community garden. Working with those kids inspired me to go back to grad school for art education. I went on to earn my Masters in Art Ed through the School of Visual Arts intensive 11-month program. It really was intensive, taking 2 years worth of courses, student teaching and thesis writing in under a year. Before graduating, I was fortunate to interview and land a teaching job in the district I had graduated high school from, Fayetteville-Manlius, near Syracuse NY. I taught middle school art for several years alongside a wonderful colleague in a very supportive district. We created and brought in a number of art lessons that allowed students to put their art talents towards community outreach programs (The Memory Project creating portraits for children in orphanages, creating greeting cards for the local SPCA to raise funds for the shelter, and more). I then met the love of my life and relocated to Fairport, NY. I held some long-term art sub positions, created a line of greeting cards and prints I sold through Etsy based on bird characters I created (Merv & Dolores), then another line of B&W illustrated paper products and fabrics that I sold through local shows, shops and online. After having our first son, I decided to stay home full-time to raise him. I did some part-time teaching and artmaking during those years, and after I had our second son. In February of 2020, I found a wonderful art studio as part of a new artist co-op space. It was time for me to focus back on my artwork. We had an amazing opening night showcasing our work, and one month later, the world closed down due to the Covid pandemic. I shortly moved all my stuff out of the studio and prepared for our kids to be home for the foreseeable future. The next year or so following that time is now somewhat of a blur, but my art making took a backseat. In this past year, with our kids back in school, I have been fortunate enough to be able to refocus and get back to my art. I've spent that time building my website, creating new work, reaching out to new shops and getting back into shows. This fall, I plan to take coursework to learn more about the art licensing business. Ultimately, I would love to continue working directly with local shop owners as well as see my artwork produced on a variety of home and fashion products.

Who are some artists that you admire?

At this stage in life, I admire anyone, within the art world and beyond, that is finding a way to balance all that they have going on in their lives while also managing to share their talents with others. Life is ever changing, ever evolving. We have goals and responsibilities. Those can change as well. I admire those out there being flexible, figuring out what works best for them and continuing to push forward, even when it's hard.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Summers are busy with family time. During the school year, my mornings consist of getting the kids off to school, taking care of things around the house, drinking coffee and getting into either the business side or the creative side of having an art business. Creativity can be a funny thing... when I find I'm having a creative block, I try to focus my time on the other aspects of the business. Sometimes I'll only be in the mood to draw, so I'll have a few drawings started at once. Other times I'm ready to take the, somewhat scary, plunge into painting and I'll get lost in that. I also try to get in some yoga classes a few times a week to help my body and mind refocus. The yoga classes I take are active and challenging, but I've found that tackling what I think may be hard for me to do in yoga has transferred over into confidence in other aspects of my life, like creating art. 

Where do you find inspiration?

There's the inspiration within my artwork, which differs from the inspiration behind why I create. Things found within nature; the colors, the textures, the lines, the beautiful rhythms within nature are inspiration for my work. The connection I may have with a flower's meaning, the expression of an animal or the memories to a landscape. As for what inspires me to create, I love the idea of creating and bringing something new into existence that someone else has an emotional connection to, even if it simply makes them smile. That connection pushes me to create. 
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