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November 11, 2021

Heather Chontos and her passion for color

Article by Laura Day-Webb

3 min. read

Heather Chontos in her studio

We spent some time with Heather Chontos, to speak about her life as a multidisciplinary artist living in a beautifully designed barn in France. A contemporary painter, sculptor and textile designer, Heather’s passion lies in art, design, gastronomy, travel, fashion and interiors. As a painter, her works reveal a fluid movement that is typical of abstract expressionism. We spoke to her about her career as a painter.

Heather, always nice to chat with you. Tell us a little more about yourself, how and when did you come to be an artist?

It was kind of always there. I wanted to do everything else in the world other than be an artist, but I was always painting and drawing. I got close to art with my study of art history in University in London, and then I met this boy during my second year – he was a painter studying at the Slade School of Art. Early in the morning almost every day, he would come to my dorm room with hands full of wires or paint or whatever he could find and say “let’s make some shit” … and we did. I would paint, make sculptures, draw, take photos, everything, and I realized how much I loved it. I loved inventing and creating. I went around it by becoming a prop stylist and set designer first, but I was always making. I couldn’t help it, and one morning many years later, I decided to stop denying it and just call myself an artist. So I did, and have not looked back since.

Do you have a particular process you go through when beginning a new work?

My process changes all the time, but what stays the same is that I just paint. I don’t plan my work, it comes to me as an impulse and then I must work. It’s a rather compelling feeling.

What role do you feel the artist plays in society?

The artist is a communicator in society, and always has been. Some artists have messages that translate into particular concepts, my communication is more about light and how it has the power to connect us all.

Painting of various shapes in a mix of colors from pink to blue and dark yellow
Matin by Heather Chontos
Painting of various shapes in a variety of colors from pink and red to yellow and blue
Lumière by Heather Chontos

These past 18 months have been challenging to us all. How has this strange pandemic period impacted your practice and now that we are finally able to look forward, what have you learned from this experience?

I have learned so much about myself, my work, my practice, everything. The process of being limited geographically and professionally gave me huge inspiration and drive to invent and explore new materials and ways of working. I loved the cleansing that confinement enforced. I know it’s a strange way to look at it, but it helped me set priorities and distinguish what was really important.

Within your body of work are their particular pieces that now strike a different chord or resonate more meaningfully coming out of this year of introspection?

Yes, this new work I am creating on paper is giving me an entirely different understanding of how I want to make my work going forward. It’s giving me a new perspective on my materials and what I really need to make my work.

Are there any current art world trends you are following at the moment?

No, not really. I don’t really believe in art world trends.

You have a multidisciplinary approach to your art. Where do you draw inspiration from and is there a particular medium you are currently focused on?

I draw inspiration from light in nature, and the movement of light in my surroundings. I am focused on using paper, especially old book paper that I find in various markets and cities. It has a very special texture and saturation of color when used as my surface. I love it.

Color and light play key roles in your compositions, can you tell us a little about their importance to you?

I find that color and light materialize the freedom within abstraction, and the open dialogue within my painting. I had an illness as a young girl that caused me to lose my sight, leaving me with nothing but a lightless grey shadow in front of my eyes for almost a year. This may be one of the many reasons why I associate color and light with freedom.

You are known for using alternatives to conventional brushes. What are some of the objects you have enjoyed working with most in lieu of a paint brush and why?

The most useful and enjoyable to me has always been the plastic hotel key cards you get for opening hotel doors. They are the perfect size and flexibility to apply paint with. I have tried many different materials as tools, but I love the cards. I also love using a huge sponge attached to a handle for application. It creates huge smoothe marks. I don’t like brush strokes in my work.

Thank you Heather, it’s a pleasure to have you as part of the newcube family.

Thank you!

Heather Chontos's studio in Cercles, France
Photo of female artist painting on studio floor
Heather Chontos in her studio

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