Heather Theurer talks flying fish.
Where did you grow up, and how has this influenced your art? According to my mother, I grew up in La-La-Land. It didn’t matter where I was, I was always off in some fantastical place in my head. That being said, for much of my childhood I lived in rural countryside where nature was my playground, and it fed the amazing places and creatures that spawned inside my imagination. Outside of art, what has had the greatest effect on your art? Nature. This world is a fascinating place and I never cease to be spellbound by it. You’re a child, you see a painting or drawing that changes everything... where are you and what are you looking at, and what effect did it have? I’m standing in a little shop of curiosities – you know, the ones that sell greeting cards and calendars – and I see an array of postcards with the fantastical art by James C Christensen on them. I’m mesmerised by them and I think, “Holy cow, a fish can fly?” At that point, anything was possible. What was your next step in art? Did other interests vie for your attention? What was the deciding factor? In my teens, I explored a variety of forms of art, but the fine art aspect always held my attention. However, by the time I was graduating from high school, I was hit by the (perhaps misguided) realisation that fine artists are poor, and that wasn’t appealing to me. So I changed directions and decided to take the path of graphic design and illustration. When I became disgusted with the education I was receiving in the art department, I switched to interior design, which then subsequently got interrupted by children being born into our family. Somewhere along the way though, churning deep down in my gut, was the need to be truly creatively free, so I took the leap and started doing my own thing. It was such a liberating experience, and surprisingly successful, that I’ve never looked back.
What was your first paid commission? I was 16 and a neighbour of mine commissioned me to paint – on a bull skull – the likeness of her father and herself (from childhood) on horseback, using a vintage photograph she had. What’s the last piece that you finished, and how do the two differ? That most recent commission (not including my licensed Disney work ended up being a 3.5x7-foot masterwork. How do they differ? Well, one I would probably laugh at now, and the other has been invited to be shown in a museum. Is your art evolving? What’s the most recent experimental piece you’ve made? My hope is that my art will always evolve. Although I love the pieces I create, I never want to feel comfortable in my work because viewers can sense that very intuitively. In the most recent piece I’m creating for Disney (which I can’t reveal as it hasn’t been released yet) I experimented with textures. Not painterly textures per se, but the realistic portrayal of different textures. Did your recent Disney art help to bring your work to a new audience? Absolutely. Any time you have a wellknown brand to back you, your audience will expand. As much as Disney has helped bring attention to the characters I’ve painted for them and to my independent work, I hope my art will be able to stand on its own because of its creativity and execution. How would you sum up your work, in under 10 words? Classical realism with a fantastical modern edge.
I never want to feel comfortable because viewers can sense that intuitively
The Insatiable Mr. Toad “I love how Mr. Toad turned out. We watched a movie together and had popcorn before I handed him over to Disney.”
Triumph “This was created for the Masterworks project for FantasyCon and won third in the 2015 ARC international art competition.”