May 2017: Heather Verplanke 

Heather Verplanke in front of a portrait of a family of 3.

May’s Featured Artist is Heather Verplanke, a Brantford-born and raised acrylic portrait artist who recently moved to Norfolk County.

Verplanke attended Sheridan College where she studied art fundamentals and technical illustration. She initially found post-secondary art school difficult, noting that after a week of taking classes she wanted to drop out. She was frustrated that she needed to learn from the bottom up, but now says that she appreciates how important it was to learn fundamentals such as perspective and colour theory. Her experience has given her the ability to “spot the problems,” as she calls it. “I’ve learned to follow the rules, so now I can play with them.” As she continues to paint, her style has evolved – “there’s always room for growth,” she notes.

After graduating, she worked as an imaging technical and architectural illustrator, and now works as a full-time freelance artist. She paints about 2-3 large-scale paintings each month, and commissioned portraits keep her busy in her home studio in Port Dover.

Verplanke paints in strictly acrylic on canvas, using old photographs and other images to create collages in Photoshop, which she paints from. She is currently working on a series called “Past Kin” that she hopes to exhibit in Brantford and Port Dover. She enjoys thrift shopping for vintage frames, recycling those frames for her own work, which has become a signature style of hers.

Her work has been exhibited throughout Ontario, including the Gladstone Hotel (Toronto), Lighthouse Festival Theatre Art Gallery (Port Dover), SuperCrawl (Hamilton), and the former Brantford Arts Block. Last year she won first prize in the Norfolk County Fair Visual Arts Competition.

Verplanke’s advice for developing artists is to continue learning – whether it be taking courses in life drawing or marketing. “I’m on a constant lookout for opportunities to learn and grow my craft, especially learning from others’ work. A little constructive criticism is good for the soul,” she says.

You can check out Verplanke’s work locally at On The Lam, or attend the Sweet Little Bitter CD Release Show at the Rope Factory on July 8, 2017. The release show will include five artists and five local bands. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, which includes a copy of Bad Reed’s newest record, Sweet Little Bitter. Get your tickets at Admiral Submarine, On The Lam, or Two Doors Down.

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