On the one hand, the world is messy and ugly, on the other it is miraculous and beautiful. Lee Heinen’s art focuses mainly on the latter. Other artists, she believes, adequately cover the former. Lee recognized many years ago that her work was in a life affirming direction.
Until quite recently, realism or neo realism has been her mode of expression. However, this is not the only way to express her joyful view. Abstraction is another. She has discovered the pleasure of the painterly surface. It started with the addition of plastic beads imbedded in the paint to create texture. After that came the use of a feather duster as paint brush, followed by dripping, sponging, pouring, adding collage materials and just about any other way she can find to apply paint. Sometimes in the process, the painting’s origin as a landscape is so modified that it becomes an abstraction.
A prominent characteristic of Lee’s work is the expressive use of color, meaning that a tree need not always be green nor a sky blue. She is interested in a “visual chromatic scale,” employing the moods and temperatures of various color combinations to convey feelings. A major color breakthrough resulted from her first visit to Africa. In an effort to express the intense light and temperature of the place, she developed a whole new enlivened, vivid palette which she now employs in all her painting.
Africa’s wild, elemental environment also served to remind her that despite our daily immersion in the frenetic materialism of popular culture, we are still basically creatures of nature. And it is this fascination with the amazing vitality and endurance of life which drives her art.
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