For Andrea Joyce Heimer, art is not just an outlet for creativity and stress relief, it’s also a way to record her life. Heimer is a local Ferndale painter with a unique style that often looks like it’s made of precision-cut construction paper but is in fact painstakingly painted. Heimer’s art is full of interesting characters with geometric bodies placed carefully into scenes bursting with color and texture. These scenes draw heavily from Heimer’s life and childhood.
“Most of my work is autobiographical, and a lot of it is dealing with feelings and things surrounding my adolescence and growing up. And that all took place in Montana,” Heimer says. “In my paintings, my work, Montana shows up much more prominently than the landscape of the Northwest.”
Heimer never planned on being an artist, but in 2012, after a depressive episode, her therapist suggested painting as a way to process unresolved parts of her childhood.
“I took it seriously and I made four paintings kind of based on our conversation. And then it snowballed after that because I found that kind of painting about this, like a really deep seated, depressive kind of loneliness that I was carrying around with me, was a way to process it,” Heimer explains.
Heimer’s paintings also reference current events like the Black Lives Matter protests from this past summer. The painting “June Clash With Clubs, Smoke, And Flash Grenades With Mount Rainier Still Snowy From Winter” depicts the protests in Seattle, featuring colorful flames and geometric protesters.
The way Heimer crafts her paintings involves a long process. The first step is underpainting, where the straight lines come into play. Heimer employs the use of scotch tape to get the crisp edges her paintings are known for. She then goes in with an over-layer, adding more freehand details to the painting. It takes a long time, but the results, Heimer says, are worth it.
Heimer grew up in Great Falls, Montana before attending the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she earned her Master’s in Fine Art in 2017. Heimer ended up in Ferndale after her husband toured the Pacific Northwest with his band and fell in love with the area.
When Heimer is not painting, she’s teaching. Heimer has taught at schools all over, including the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. She also teaches at Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. At Western, Heimer instructs illustration classes; at Whatcom, Heimer teaches painting, drawing, and 3D design. While the circumstances of COVID make teaching harder, forcing classes online, Heimer powers through and plans to continue teaching at Western this winter. andrea-joyce.com
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