When asked what her greatest personal accomplishment has been as an artist, Heather Malone of Orcas Island, who is known by many as “July,” answered, “When I look back at a creation and say ‘wow, that is a really great piece.’” Going on, she explains that her art has always been a part of her, whether it has been in the building of her home or drawing and creating art as a child, and every piece, even one that doesn’t turn out so well, is a personal accomplishment.
Self taught, Heather has been creating some kind of art or another since she was a small child. Her first love was drawing, and working with pastels. She was particularly inspired by the magic and strength of horses, whose images have continued to surface in her art over the last several decades. In time her skills and interests have expanded to include silk painting, sculpture, weaving, gourd carving and painting, book-binding and watercolors.
Though she has worked with other artists and has been influenced by mentors such as Glenna Richards, most of her work comes through her as if she is channeling her emotion through her artwork. “I dream my pieces,” she explains. “My work evolves from something that is an emotion or a dream and almost creates itself.”
A look inside her studio shows the evidence of a highly creative and highly functional artist. Surrounded by picture windows and sweeping views of evergreen trees, her imagination is expressed in every direction whether it is a corner shelf brimming with art supplies or an easel displaying a recently finished painting or a work in process. At any given time she will have multiple projects going at once, and when asked how she bridges the gap between so many different mediums, she says, “People who are really great artists tend to stick to one or two mediums. I tend to bounce off the wall. I need to try new things and some things stick more than others. Exploring new ideas in my artwork inspires the work I have done for years and anything that comes from the heart is easy. I am compelled by my heart and my dreams make it happen.”
Heather also credits her environment for some of her inspiration. Heather first came to Orcas Island on vacation 22 years ago. She camped at Moran State park and fell in love with the area. Following her vacation she returned to Colorado, sold everything, packed her bags and returned to Orcas Island three weeks later. She has been here ever since.
Her early years involved getting settled, purchasing land and clearing it herself. Her house, an artistic creation of its own off of Pinneo Road, is surrounded by lush trees and is home to humans, horses and other four leggeds. Built by hand, “my home was my medium for many years. Hard work builds personal foundation and character.” When asked how the hard work of creating her home has influenced her art, she responds very succinctly, “I have learned to be more patient with myself. You can’t go any faster than you can go … you learn about doing the job right and getting to that place where everything is just as it should be. Sometimes I will do a piece three or four times. Sometimes it is hard to translate your imagination so you learn about the finer details and what it takes to get them right.”
After selling her work for two years at the local Farmers Market, Heather realized that the pressure to produce “hurts creativity when you make it a product rather than letting it be a creation of its own. Creating for its own sake fills a place in your soul and it is that place in your soul that demands you to create.” So for now, Heather’s work will remain a personal collection, but should anyone express interest, she is a most gracious curator.
Heather can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.