As someone who can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, art and artists amaze me. I have mad respect for artists. Although I have been in and out of photography since I was a child, and into black and white night architectural photography and processing in Burlington for a few years, I don’t feel particularly artistic. But, I think you’ll agree, we could all use a little more art and culture in our lives.
Enter Heidi Pitre. In the press, Heidi has been referred to as “a delicious, diminutive dynamo.” I met Heidi maybe fifteen years ago, as a seatmate on a flight from New Orleans to Tampa. We had a blast! Little girl, big personality, and so into her art. I think Heidi is amazing, and enjoy seeing her latest work on Facebook and Instagram.
Besides turning me more on to art, Heidi also turned me onto a favorite cocktail, the Malibu Bay Breeze. Heidi, if you’re reading, I wish I was having one right now!
Here’s a quick written interview with Heidi. I hope you like it, and you like her amazing artwork.
Hello Heidi, and welcome to The Suburban Forager! Its great to have you! Thanks, Chris, glad to “virtually” be here!
Where are you from, where do you call home, and where are you now? I know you’ve bounced around a bit over the past few years. I’m originally from New Orleans and that will always be home. That being said, I am extremely lucky, because wherever I go the stars line up and I connect with the most amazingly creative people. They are always generous and caring, and that makes me feel at home and welcomed. After Hurricane Katrina, I moved to Mississippi for 10 years, and I instantly felt embraced. The same thing happened when I moved to Austin. The camaraderie in this very saturated artist community is remarkable.
When did you realize that art was your passion? When I was five, I traced the cover of a Charlie Brown book and tried to push it off as an original. The person I was trying to impress was my Uncle Willie Willie Lump Lump. I knew he was an artist and I was already intrigued even at five. He instantly called me out and told me to go draw it without tracing. When I returned, I remember the look of shock on his face at my accuracy. I immediately felt power. I continued to draw, but had no idea how to turn it into a real career or passion. It wasn’t until a class at a junior college that I began to get truly addicted with goals in mind. Now it’s all I think about.
When and how did you realize that being an artist was only not in your blood, but could become a career? I’ve always been a working artist, supplementing my income with animal portraits and commissions, but in 2009 I made a conscious decision to move my career forward with intent. It has been a decade of rejection and acceptance letters. Awards and exclusions. Overall, I am very pleased with everything that’s happened in the past ten years.
What do you think is your greatest achievement or joy in being an artist? I think it’s amazing to create something that didn’t exist until you created it. I have learned that I am not a confident painter. This always bothered me until I realized that because of this, I am always surprised and thrilled when I step back and look at the result. Many of my paintings are happenstance, the magic happens without much thought or contemplation.
What are your feelings on the business of art? For the business side of my career I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants the entire time. Maybe in the next decade I’ll figure it out!
I know you have two daughters. Did the artistic gene pass down through generations? Are you daughters artistic as well? My daughters are both creative, but their artistic motivations are aimed in different areas. Addie concentrates on performance and Alix on baking and cooking. Other than Uncle WWLL, I also had an aunt who was an artist. I was always drawn to her, no pun intended.
If you could do anything at all as an artist, what would that be? I’d like to come up with and answer like “have a show at the Whitney or get commissioned to paint someone famous” but I’m currently doing exactly what I want to do as an artist. If I didn’t have to sleep, that would be ideal.
I’m very impressed with your book, A Permanent Record (which I own!), a collection of illustrations on vintage library cards. Tell us the inspiration for your drawings and the book, the Kickstarter, putting the book together and selling it. Thanks Chris! I did a residency in a small Texas town and their library still had the old cards in the backs of the books, even though they were using a new system. I asked the librarian if I could have the cards. They sat on my desk for a week or so before it hit me to draw something related to the stories. The domino effect started and after I created about 40 cards, I decided to make a book. The Kickstarter was successful, but I had no idea how time consuming actually creating the book would be. In the end, it happened and I’m proud of the final outcome.
When you’re not making art, what are your interests and hobbies? Other than books I have given up so many hobbies I enjoy. I like painting and making art more than any of them. There is only so much time in a day.
What else would you like us to know about you, your life, or your art? Hmmm… I floss daily. Rarely do I forget to use my blinker, but hey – it happens. Seriously, though, I try to make art that is interesting, thought provoking and inquisitive. If I’ve accomplished this, then I’m one happy painter.
Where should readers go to learn more about you and your art? Well, I have an awesome website at www.heidipitre.com. There I have an in-depth bio, information on my press and awards, current events and of course, lots of artwork!
Thanks so much for your time, Heidi. Its been great having you. Keep up the good work. Likewise, Chris. Any time!
And that’s that. Heidi’s work is very reasonable, especially the “upcycled” library cards.
All images copyright (C) 2019 Heidi Pitre, All Rights Reserved
The Suburban Forager