I didn’t know a lot about art, especially not abstract art, before I met her. Abstract art turns out to be a little like jazz, or football — you have to know a few things about it to enjoy it.
The typical knock against abstract art by those of us who aren’t artists is: “My kid could have done that.” And in all fairness, that is actually true of some abstract art. That doesn’t mean it’s bad: a powerful idea executed so simply that a child could do it is artful indeed. But without a powerful animating idea, a painting without technical skill is just a pointless blob.
Heather’s work has both a powerful, coherent set of ideas and emotions behind it that run through all her work, and the level of technical skill is amazing. Even though I have described *how* she painted above, I could not make one of her paintings after twenty years of practice. Her artistic, editorial choices on every square inch of the surface cannot be replicated. Absolutely nothing is accidental in Heather’s work. It was possible for her to spend hours on even a tiny section of a painting.
Her paintings also illuminate an inner world; she has a vast inner landscape, and a solid visual language. She loved Yayoi Kusama, who had some of the same qualities: fruitful obsessions combined with an otherworldly, nonverbal way of expressing them.