7 Heather Theurer Edwards
"Art is an expression of who you are, if you let it."
S. Heather Theurer Edwards is an incredible, self-taught painter and illustrator from Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and five children - all of whom she home-schools. She's been featured in USA Today, the LA Times, BuzzFeed, MTV News, and Spectrum. She's won awards from the Art Renewal Center, Lucca Comics & Games, and The Artist's Magazine. Heather has written and illustrated her own children's book, Thaddeus The Boss.
Heather is most well-known for her series of Disney-themed portraits. According to Kate Fustich (Bustle, 2015), Heather started the series after she met a representative to Disney at the 2010 San Diego Comics Convention. Heather told Jan Hogan (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2016), “When I was young, I always watched the Disney films but never dreamed of being a Disney artist. But, he said ‘try it,’ so I did it on a whim.”
'To Touch a Star'
Heather told Fustich:
"The biggest thing about my Disney pieces is that I didn't want them just to be a re-creation of what Disney had already done. I love the story-telling part of creating art, and I've tried to imbue more than only a likeness of the characters in my paintings, but a life. I wanted to capture their struggles, their pride, their peace. And when the audience gets that — sometimes even drawing them to tears — it's the best feeling in the world."
Heather's sold Disney the right to reprint her portraits, which can now be found in their gift shops, all over the world. Fustich also reports that Heather is writing and illustrating her own "contemporary fantasy" novel.
According to Jan Hogan (2016), Heather grew up in Utah and started drawing as a child. Heather said, “For as long as I can remember, I always had a pencil in my hand.” Heather also says in this interview at the 2014 Fantasy Convention in Salt Lake City, "From the time I was three and my parents asked me what I wanted to grow up and be, it was I'm going to grow up and be an artist, and they'd say, 'That's nice sweety.'"
After high school she turned down the chance to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, instead spending a year at what is now Brigham Young University in Rexberg, Idaho. According to Fustich, Heather attended one year of college. On her website she credits her skill to her study of old master artists and the 19th century Pre-Raphaelites. She calls herself an 'eternal student'.
According to Jan Hogan, she spent some time in Summerlin, Nevada. Heather says she uses traditional painting methods involve many layers of glazing. She also starts each work with a prayer, saying, "I will do whatever you want me to do."
Heather says in this interview with Emma Taggart (My Modern Met, 2018), “I don't necessarily want the viewer to have the same response to my painting as I have. Instead, my hope is that the expression I paint on the board through hours of observation and execution of detail will speak to them in a way that ignites thoughts and feelings unique to them.”
Jan Hogan says (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2016):
"Theurer said many of her paintings come to her after she’s had to struggle to resolve something. Those struggles have included balancing her work and family life — she and her husband, Brad, have five children — and economic pitfalls, such as Brad losing his job in 2008 and being unemployed for two years. Each of them also dealt with the loss of a grandparent.
"Six or seven years ago, she said she began injecting her emotions from that turmoil into her art. Some underlying message may shine through, she said, as people at shows are drawn to certain paintings and say they see it applying to their own lives.
"'I’ll be struggling to resolve it in my head, and that comes out in my paintings,' she said. 'I’ve had people cry; in the middle of 2,000 people, they’ll cry and say, ‘I’m going through that right now.’ And we’ll share our stories and how we’re working through it. It amazes me.'”
Heather talks about what inspires her (Fustich, 2015), "Everything I see is an influence of some kind or another, no joke. I wake up from dreams that I have to write down or make sketches of because they're so amazing. During the day, I'm bombarded by life in all it's forms and I find it fascinating."
'Beauty & the Beast'
Heather gives this advice to art students (Fustich, 2015), "I think being keenly observational is probably the defining attribute needed to acquire skill as an artist. But my learning doesn't happen in a classroom. I thrive on looking closely at everything — not just the pretty stuff, mind you, but everything. I love to study textures, light, form and color."
Heather talks about the importance of art education (Fantasy Convention, 2014), "Art is an expression of my experience, of who I am, of my beliefs, of the feelings I'm having. And so, to have kids do that at any age, whether they're five, or fifteen, or twenty-five, or ninety-five. I don't care. If you express yourself in some way, in art, there's no other way you can really get it out, at least for me anyway. And, so it's liberating. Doing art is liberating."
'Drawn to the Shore'
'Sewn to his Shadow'
'We're All Mad Here'
'Baby of Mine'
'Lilo & Stitch'
'Never Let It Go'
'Game of Chase'
'An End of Kings'
'Vying for the Throne'
'Equus Series I I'
'Love at First Sight'
'Saraigh-Ceol (Enduring Song)'