Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Feature Heidi Willis

Hi Everyone,
"Wattlebirds and Sophora microphylla" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

It's Friday again!!!  I'm thrilled to bring you a phenomenal Feature this week, Ms. Heidi Willis.  Heidi and I met through fb.  Her art is astounding.  The detail work is amazing!  She was most recently featured in International Artists Magazine.

To see more of her work visit her website. 

 How did you get your start? 

I started when I was 19 whilst helping my young brother in law with his art homework at the time. ‘Come on’ I said, ‘I will paint with you… It will be great!’ before thinking, oh wow… how do you paint?! Curiosity and enthusiasm ran through my mind as I rummaged through my belongings to find a few stray tubes of gouache and the very a small set of W&N watercolours that had been given to me by my father as a gift many years before. As I sat there looking them intensely, I brushed the dust off them and thought… hmmmm, now what! I decided on a possum and away we went painting together. Some weeks later I took it to the framers, and that’s where I met my first agent. A week later he sold that painting for me for more than I earned in a week at the time, and I found myself thinking oh! Well maybe I could do that again? That’s where it started, and I am still thinking today, oh! Well maybe I could do that again!
"Eastern Rosellas" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

What’s your artist journey so far?

I have worked as a professional artist for over 20 years now. I have taught and painted since my late teens and there hasn’t been any other path for me, only to paint. I started in wildlife and move quite naturally into the area of Botanical Art around the age of 24. From there my path has been an unfolding of botanical and bird subjects that marry in together very nicely. The Botany is a more scientific base with quite specific challenges, whilst the birds allow me to return to a more organic structure with softer boundaries and rules to bounce around in. It is a wonderful balance for me.

Where were you born?

I was born in Queensland, Australia and moved to Sydney as a child.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

If I could live anywhere, Id instinctively say Sydney. It’s a beautiful city and an amazing country and I know that its a place that I will always call home, but the nomadic part of my spirit always meddles with my imagination and for the love of adventure, the list of places to be expands endlessly! Live? Many places…! Home? That probably has to be Sydney.  

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I am a Natural History artist. I have a great love of the natural world around us. That’s my focus and what I am drawn to every time and I don’t see that changing. Nature is never anything less than endlessly beautiful, fascinating and astounding. As a subject for painting, its irresistible.

"Lotus and Moorhens" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

I work exclusively in watercolours and use many techniques to produce my work. Perhaps most significantly, I seem to naturally gravitate towards the use of glazing and dry brushing techniques to achieve luxurious, rich results in my work. The process itself is complex and time consuming to produce, but it is also an extremely satisfying process and result in the end. My work is fairly detailed and intricate, so these techniques, and of course the crossing over of these techniques work very well for me.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I definitely have a select few favourites when it comes to colours, but how can you really choose! Those that instantly come to mind are Perm. Rose, Windsor Red, Windsor Violet, Raw Sienna and Indigo. My palette is fairly broad and the colour use usually quite complex, so it is not often that I use a colour in its pure form. Many are muddied up with one, two, or even several others added to it.
watercolor by Heidi Willis

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I do not have a favourite artist. It would be impossible to choose! However, seeing the Van Gogh Gallery in Amsterdam certainly was an awe-inspiring place to see.

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

As a self-taught artist, I have had a number of achievements that I have been quite proud of over my career. I was pleased to sell my very first Botanical painting to Dr Shirley Sherwood for inclusion in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Collection of international contemporary botanical artists. My work is also held in the universities permanent collection of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation USA, I have been a finalist several times over in the highly prestigious Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize held by the South Australian Natural History Museum, and three of my works were accepted as a finalist in the Focus on Nature exhibition, NY State Museum. I have also taken part in Botanica and the Margaret Flockton Awards, Sydney Botanic Gardens, Australia.
"Pomegranates" watercolor by Heidi Willis

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

I would like to be able to re establish a working studio space for myself where I am able to paint to my hearts content. I would like to travel. I would like to have a home where I can plant a magnolia garden again! I would like to sit in my magnolia garden and look at it for very long periods of time and smile at it. Id like a gardener! :)

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Don’t wash your brushes in your tea… Its not a very good idea. When using double sided tape, don’t put it between your lips to free up your hands. Don’t sniff your masking fluid, its really yucky! Don’t forget to eat. Don’t eat pasta while you work. Never leave your red paint, brushes and artwork or your turps where your toddlers can reach them… But most of all, my advice is to paint what you love and to paint it with love, often.
watercolor Heidi Willis

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Accept that being an artist isn’t about what you do, its about who you are.

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Your dream vacation spot? Somewhere a little bit off the beaten track, something Earthy and a little bit wild but with amazing cocktails and a good bed.

Book or movie? Movie

Favorite movie? Forrest Gump

Romance or comedy? Comedy

Favorite dessert? Cheesecake or Crème Caramel

Night owl or morning person? Definitely morning

 Thank you very much Heidi,

See everyone on Monday,



  1. Wow - that top one looks like a photograph! I had to zoom in to believe it was a watercolour! It really is remarkably intricate work - I'm not sure I would have such patience! What a talent :0)

  2. I am blown away by her work....and self-taught, too. Such dedication.

  3. Love Heidi's work, and I've been following her for several years. Good interview, Carrie.

  4. Wow! Great interview, Carrie..I almost fell over with the first painting...I'm very impressed with her work and will check out her blog.

  5. Totally fantastic Friday, Carrie. I love detail, so it is not surprising that I find Heidi's work totally absorbing.

    Thank you, Carrie; thank you, Heidi have started my weekend off by putting a smile on my face. Just loved it from start to finish!!!!

  6. Wow! I had to catch my breath seeing these lovely paintings. They are so brilliant. I thought at first I was seeing a photograph but no it wasn't. Well done, Heidi.
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  7. Lovely work an interview! Thank you both.

  8. thank you everyone, Heidi

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