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The Impressionistic Paintings of Heidi Steinman

Sep 27, 2015 09:37PM ● By Brandi Barnett

Steinman Work

October 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photos: Jacki Potorke

“We all know that art is not truth.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.

So spoke Pablo Picasso. But while this statement may hold true for some artists, for others it falls a bit short of the mark – particularly for someone like local painter Heidi Steinman, whose cherished endgame is to live authentically, both through her life and through her art. “I want to be quite real in my convictions and follow them through experiences,” confides Steinman. “I really value the genuine.”
And genuine is what one feels when gazing deep into the heart of Steinman’s paintings. Executed mainly in oil, Steinman’s work is an impressionistic celebration of subtle, yet bright joy born from a world whose diverse scenes never fail to strike at her heart. “The things that inspire me are things in nature, and things that are real,” muses Steinman. “Texture, color, light…stuff that doesn’t change. Authentic things.”
This commitment to authenticity plus a wandering spirit has already resulted in a near lifetime of experiences and travel under this young artist’s belt. Steinman was born and raised in Visalia, and began honing her signature style as early as high school. But a characteristic wanderlust led her to Ecuador shortly after, where some challenging life experiences awaited. But that’s the thing about experiences when you’re living the authentic life: some are intense, some are beautiful, some are painful, but all are true and therefore precious. And through all the miles and latitudes and cultures, the anchor of her art held Steinman fast. “Through all of my journeys, I painted as I went,” she recalls. “I’ve always known that I liked to paint, and as I traveled, that love remained consistent. So I knew that’s what I wanted to do in some way, but I didn’t want to worry about how it was going to happen. I just figure that my art is a gift, and if I can enjoy that gift, that in itself is a wonderful achievement.”
For Steinman, South America meant a stint at Bible college, then a marriage and subsequent divorce. Spiritually taxed, the young artist migrated back north, where she gave herself some recovery time in Colorado before moving back to California where she worked at a summer camp, then continued the good nature vibes by pitching a tent for three months in the vegetable garden of some gentle, mountain-dwelling friends. But the siren song of travel found Steinman before long, and guided her further north for a tour of the Pacific Northwest that included an epic, five-week backpacking trip up the Oregon coast, then rolled smoothly into a spell of time in Spain. “In Spain, I just painted and rode a bike around, and it was a very sweet experience, but I felt a bit like I was swimming upstream and couldn’t really rest and belong,” recalls Steinman. “By now, I’ve lived a lot of places, but I’ve come to realize that something has always pulled me back to the Valley. It’s kind of a searching, a restlessness, a homesickness, where I’ve kind of felt out of place in other locations…sort of missing my roots.”
True to her truth, Steinman heeded the irrefutable call of her roots, and returned to Visalia, where she remains today. But in a way, it seems like location doesn’t actually matter, as her roots extend down past any physical place and burrow right into her soul. “Spritiual conviction is my main motivation for art. I feel like this is a gift that God has given me, and I know that He wants us to enjoy life,” Steinman says. “I’m not sure why I choose what to paint; it’s just a gut feeling.” But that gut feeling – more than any compass point – gives Steinman her sense of direction. And she has learned not just to recognize this personal North Star, but also to honor it, use it and let it guide her. “In art, overthinking can actually keep us from creating,” says Steinman. “You have to subscribe to the flow as much as you can. Kind of a meditative state where you just let things happen.”
Given her raw talent, adventurous spirit and open heart, Steinman’s future seems bright. But interestingly, it is her newfound root structure that inspires her most at the moment. “I’ve drawn and painted my whole life, and more than anything, I’d rather paint,” says Steinman. “But I do feel as though I have a moment to breathe now, and just let my ideas come out.” A slow smile spreads across the artist’s expressive, articulate face. “And that feels pretty beautiful.”

Art by Heidi Steinman • (559) 786-9153
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