Heather Sundquist makes work that’s both quiet and screaming with nostalgia. I was first taken in by the humor of the characters in her paintings, and then the more I scrolled, the more I enjoyed the irony of the soft colors and dreamy sadness mixed with a sort of loving organizing of elements from the past.
Does that makes sense? What do you get from her work?
Heather was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as I test out digging into the minds of artists here. Read on!
Were your parents instrumental in you pursuing art-making?
Both my parents had a hand helping me focus on my creativity in different ways. My father worked as a circulation manager at a newspaper and we’d go to his office often. He’d give me all the art supplies I could carry from his supply closet while he worked on fixing broken down presses. He showed me and my sister how to make all sorts of things on the xerox machine and how to make a printing plate in the dark room. He also took us on millions of adventures, where we spent a lot of time outside. We’d go camping, hiking, swimming in the ocean and fishing.
My mom encouraged me to always push my ideas further. When I was in 6th grade, each month I had to write a report on a different country. It was a painful project but to make it fun “for my teachers”, she helped me concoct plots for each report. One month I wrote a report under the guise of a secret agent on the secret mission for a lost agent. Another month, we made travel brochure.
Long story short, my parents and my whole family really, encouraged me to make and do things that challenge me, connect my brain to my hands and to express myself, whatever it looks like.
I feel really lucky to have that.
What is your typical day?
Since I am a teacher, my studio time is a little compressed during the school year. I guess a typical art day starts with coffee, a “Michael Hall breakfast ” (my husbands’ signature breakfast) and then a dog walk. We live on a property that has a big open 40 acre field with a walking trail, so we take the dogs for a walk on this before we get down to any art. My husband is also a painter and we share a studio in our house. We take turns picking and flipping records while we both paint and take breaks to pet our two dogs and occasionally pet the two donkeys that are our current closest neighbors.
Name your 5 favorite art-making tools.
Turner design gouache, .5m mechanical pencils, Faber and Castell dust free erasers, arches watercolor blocks, and brushes with no more than 20 hairs.
What are you influenced by? People, places, or things. Just a list – you don’t need to go into detail unless you want to.
Memories, intimate quiet moments, nooks and crannies, relationships, colors, texture, patterns, old heartfelt songs.
What motivates you to keep working?
The feeling that I get when I finish painting something. It’s soothing to the soul and makes me feel complete.
Last question. Finish the sentence: Art Makes People…
Art makes people relate.
Go see the rest of her stuff and I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Be sure to check out the ‘Characters’ link on her site if you are fond of personification as I am.)
You can also find her work here: Parts and Labour and Bearded Lady General both in Austin Texas, Forage Space in Narrowsburg, NY