MARSHA HELLER, a resident of Leonia, New Jersey, studied Art History at Oberlin, Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and oil painting with Revington Arthur at Chautauqua for three years, with Irving Marantz at NYU and with Sam Feinstein in New York.
Ms Heller works in acrylics, watercolor, oils on paper and canvas, pastels and encaustic.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
I've always wanted to be an artist, but my sister and brother, one older, one younger, were artists and I felt I couldn't compete with them, so I focused on my other love, music and became a professional oboist with a career in NY. I started creating fliers for my concerts and loved doing that, so I took courses at the School of Visual Arts to enable me to pursue graphic design on a professional level. I also took studio art courses, first at NYU with Irving Marantz, and at the Chautauqua School of Art, where I spent time every summer. My teachers were so encouraging to me that I began to realize that I could be an artist also, and serendipitously I met Sam Feinstein, who gave classes in NYC. I began going to those in 1986, and in 1987 I gave my first solo show.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
Sam's classes gave me the background and the freedom to explore my options - I tried using a palette knife for the first time there, and found that that suited me. I used acrylic paint at first, but went on to oil soon after, and then pastels, and then encaustics. I still use all of these mediums in my work (but not all at once).
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours or any favorite times to work?
Since I am still working as a musician I have to manage my time carefully. I prefer to practice in the morning so that I don't have to feel guilty for wanting to paint, and I paint in the afternoon when my studio light is best for me.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
I work on several pieces at a time. I have them placed around my studio, so when I walk in and glance at them I immediately see something that needs "fixing".
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
My biggest influence, the thing that keeps me working, is my love of expressing myself through paint. I can't wait to get to the studio and start making a white canvas colorful! I find the act of painting very satisfying , and also satisfying to see what I've done, whereas with music, when you are done with the concert, the notes have all gone into the air. The joy is when you are actually doing it.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Trying something new is exciting for me - the pastels, for instance, and the encaustics, were challenges that I enjoyed very much!
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
I have a solo exhibition from February 16 until March 2 at Riverside Gallery in Hackensack,, NJ, and several group shows at various venues elsewhere in NJ.
A Purple Painting
17 x 14 oil on paper
Wall by Patterson Falls
30 x 30
oil on canvas
oil on canvas