My mind wanders. Maybe it's because I'm dyslexic. Or it could just be that I'm human. 

Whatever it is, I’m sitting here alone. Thinking.

Quiet 1 and Quiet 2 by Heather Day

I think about the two types of quiet. The first is standing in a room with a good friend and not saying a single word. It’s comfortable. The second is harsh. Like the ‘please say something’ after an argument.

I think about contradictions—exceptions to the norm. Like when I speak up in a meeting or say something unexpected. A bold dash of red in a painting or a confident splash acts the same.

I'm Going With You This Time #2, Painting by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day

I think that I'm tuning into life’s subtleties. I've always had the ability to look closer and deeper, but I've never shared it with anyone. My work has provided me with the confidence to voice what I experience. I'm not outgoing; I'm not loud. The paintings are perhaps everything I'm not.

It’s these thoughts that create paintings. In making Conversations and Color, I wanted to showcase this thought process to offer people a new perspective. When I think, I begin with a concept and create a web around it—a mind map. We laid the show out in the same format. You wander and maybe need to start from the beginning and backtrack to figure out what it's really about. Rather than showing you the answers flat out, I wanted you to look and find your own.

Conversations and Color by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day

I think about the works themselves, how they tell a story about the creative process. Some marks are left incomplete—I like that because brush marks remind me where the hand was. I like the idea that you can fall in love with a simple mark and that's enough, while other times the mark needs complexity. It requires research, movement and rough drafts. Paint is poured, it's manipulated and pushed. I’m combining something effortless and something considered. Those are the perfect ingredients.

But this show was about more than paintings. I also showed sculpture pieces—a healthy departure from the norm. The sculptures allowed the paintings to live outside the canvas. It was difficult to think three dimensionally after painting so consistently, but I’ll continue sculpting in the future. I know I have work to do.

Conversations and Color by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day
Conversations and Color by Heather Day

I think about how the process of building the show began. I don’t believe the creative process stops just because the works are done. So, I teamed up with former MoMA designer Luke Williams to design and brand the identity of the collection. This is atypical for fine art shows. We chose a typeface, chose particular colors—and then applied them in the space and in print. Then, to tie the show together, I painted the floor of the gallery space. There were preexisting marks on the floor and I felt that adding my own marks would represent unity and collaboration, between myself and history. It was a delicate balance of controlling chaos and helping navigate the viewer around the gallery.

I think about how eventually everything was finished. The works, the space and the details in between. Opening the doors was the only thing left. I found that the most frightening part. It’s a strange thing to work for a year on paintings that visually show your thoughts, experiences and emotions. And then to hang them in a space for people to see? It made me tense. I worried that the works weren’t enough for a generation raised on experiences. But opening night came. And so did over 600 people. I wandered through the gallery differently, seeing the works through the eyes of others. At one point, I ducked out of the space and stood outside looking in. Just quietly taking in a moment.

And now I think about the present moment. The show has closed. 136 of the 143 paintings created for the show have been purchased. I can only say thank you. Thank you everyone who came out to support, purchased a painting or followed the journey on social media. If you’d like to take a piece of the show with you the show catalog is still available to purchase. Find it here. But for now, we’re closing this chapter. And I’m thinking about the next one.  

-Heather 

Conversations and Color by Heather Day

Photos by Margaret Austin. Written by Heather Day and edited by Kate Holthouser