Heather Best - Artist Interview
"I create art that is reflective of my interests;
I do portraits because I am fascinated by human beings,
and I paint animals because they bring me a great deal of joy."
~ Heather Best
My name is Heather Best and I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor in Fort St. John. Currently, I am the Clinical Manager at a local non-profit called Community Bridge, while also running a small private counselling business called Trua Wellness on the side. I grew up on a cattle ranch 50 miles outside Fort St. John in a place called Upper Cache Creek. My father Karl Musgrove is an artist and I grew up surrounded by artwork. I have many extended family members who pursue creative endeavors, whether it's drawing, painting, photography, carving or metalwork, and I have been steeped in an appreciation for art. I also love to travel and experience different cultures. My art is reflective of my upbringing and interests in that I love to create portraits of people and paint colourful animals.
I grew up drawing and have fond memories of my father giving me tips and pointers as a youth. Then for many years I didn't create any artwork at all as I pursued other interests. About 12 years ago I attended a local workshop on portraiture, with my father who'd had a stroke, to help support him while there. The instructor was kind enough to let me participate as well and I rediscovered my pleasure in attempting to capture something visually. My husband, family and friends have always been very supportive of my work. Sandy Troudt and the Flying Colours Group have also always been tremendously encouraging.
I love art, all kinds of art, and get a great deal of enjoyment from looking at it. I find that when I am doing artwork it is very mindful and I get intensely absorbed. I also find that this absorption creates physical energy and after doing art for an hour or so, I have to get up and do something physical to dispel that pent-up energy. I create art that is reflective of my interests; I do portraits because I am fascinated by human beings, and I paint animals because they bring me a great deal of joy.
I do my portraits in mixed media, and that is from the very first portrait workshop I took with my Dad, led by Michele Zarb. I use a mixture of powdered pigments, acrylic, pastels and maybe some gold leaf. For my animals I tend to use acrylic paint as I appreciate the brightness of the colours to convey the animals' personalities.
My colourful cow pictures seem to be popular with other people and it makes me happy to share that same appreciation for the character and goofiness that their unprepossessing looks bely. They are fun, happy paintings. My portraits have a different feel to them. The two that I am most proud of are of a local Dane-zaa elder named May Apssassin and the other is of a small Maasai girl I met in Kenya. Their realities are worlds apart but I hope to have captured something of their lived experiences.
I struggle, not so much with finding the time to create art, but with being in the appropriate mindset. The last few years have been kind of a dry spell where I was lucky to do one or maybe two pieces in a year. I tried to be patient with myself during this time as I just felt like it would come back naturally and that I shouldn't force it. Then this winter the switch seemed to flip back again and I created 3 pieces in a very short time frame. My kitchen table has gone back to being littered with art supplies and partially finished pieces.
I am not a professional artist and nor do I ever plan on being one. For a long time I was hesitant to even call myself an artist, preferring to say that I was someone who enjoyed doing art. I have limited interest in the business side of things and the monetary value attached to the piece. Of course, receiving a paycheck is always nice, but I get just as much enjoyment from giving a piece that I have worked on, to a friend who genuinely appreciates it, and it is a gift.
I am proud to be a member of the PRFCA and there is a certain amount of disbelief associated with belonging to such an esteemed organization. I once had a painting that I had done of a neighbour's cow. She was painted purple and when the neighbour saw her, immediately recognized her and exclaimed, "She was a miserable SOB!". So I named the painting "Miserable SOB" and it hung in the local gallery for a short while. The painting sold to someone travelling through from Germany, and it tickles me that that "Miserable SOB" is hanging on someone's wall in Germany!
My dad, Karl Musgrove, inspires me every day. Dad has always been a talented artist, but after his stroke he has devoted the majority of his days to artwork. He pores over other artist's work, studying them and learning. He continues to study and revamp his own work, never content to just let it be. While that's frustrating when we like his pieces just the way they are, I can't help but admire his desire to continually improve and be fearless in "not wrecking" something that he thinks could be better. I cannot fathom how he does everything from his head and doesn't have to look at pictures for reference. Art has been such a great language of communication and shared appreciation for us. I don't think I would ever be able to separate my own artistic endeavors from my relationship with my dad.
Thank you so much for sharing your art journey with us!
Heather can be reached by email- firstname.lastname@example.org