The last three years have been about experimentation. From moving into a live-work space to challenging myself to create new work or leave home to travel, I’ve strayed from my comfort zone—all to soak up as much information as possible and empty out my findings onto canvas.

Starting from Blank : New Paintings | Heather Day Journal

For me, painting is the vehicle to articulate moments uncapturable by camera or word. Take, for example, a moment on a cliff that overlooks a river. From the top I can experience the texture of the breeze and the sound of the water below. The temperature and sunlight affects the surroundings, as does that feeling in my stomach when I get close to the edge. I want to keep this moment and remember every detail later. Do I film it, or just take a photo? Should I stop trying and just sit on the ledge and dangle my feet over the side? It’s how to capture and recreate details from moments like this that I’m interested in. This has been the source of my experimentation.

Starting from Blank : New Paintings | Heather Day Journal
Starting from Blank : New Paintings | Heather Day Journal

Soaking in details from traveling makes me feel like a sponge—I can fill up and squeeze out onto canvas. Some days I’m intimidated by the daunting challenge of capturing a moment, while other days I think that if I work fast enough I could paint it in an instant. That’s why I paint some details on site and others back in the studio. I can work fast, but sometimes I slow it down, a pace I hope is reflected in the paintings.  

Paintings at Lands End by Heather Day | Heather Day Journal
Swimmers at Lands End, San Francisco | Heather Day Journal
Detail of painting by Heather Day | Heather Day Journal
Sutro #1 Painting by Heather Day at Lands End, San Francisco | Heather Day Journal

Recently, I’ve started to feel like I’m not fully emptying the sponge. I feel oversaturated, and I find myself looking to reset and start from scratch with a completely empty studio.

This is why I’ve decided to release all my current paintings and start from blank.

Starting from Blank : New Paintings | Heather Day Journal

In doing this, I hope to push my work even further. With a solo show planned for this fall in San Francisco, I’m planning to focus only on travel and painting in the months before. No further paintings will be released until then. I don’t know exactly where this is going to take me, but it’s a part of the process I’d like to share with you.

The paintings I’m releasing today were painted during the past eight months, although I began a few almost two years ago. Though my work is sometimes fast in the moment, some paintings stay unfinished for months at a time. Often I have to work through other paintings before I can finish those previous. Eventually I make a mark on one piece and think, “That’s it. This will be the finishing mark in the painting I’ve left sitting for the past few months.” Time is such an important element in my work.

New Paintings by Heather Day
Art by Heather Day | Heather Day Journal
Paintings by Heather Day

These paintings were influenced by my love for water. Being perpetually surrounded by the San Francisco Bay and the ocean makes me crave blues and depth. When I travel, I tend to choose places near water; and in the studio, blue is always in the back of my mind. My process is also very water oriented. I pour paint and water into its own current, hoping to express what I’ve already experienced in and outside the city on canvas.

As each painting takes form, I work with them, spend time with them. They surround my studio and fill my home. Releasing them all at once means learning to live without their comfort, but this will be a step towards new experiments. And, the beginning of filling a new sponge.


View all of the paintings from the archives, here and check out a curated selection at Tappan CollectiveI hope to see you at my solo show this coming fall in San Francisco with Athen B. Gallery

Writing and paintings by Heather Day. Edited by Kate Holthouser. Photos by Lauren Midori.

I think You're Right | Heather Day Journal