September 2016: Ralph Heather 

 Image: © Ralph Heather, End of Autumn, original woodcut print on paper, detail.

Just in time for the Brant Studio Tour and the Tour’s new exhibition, Locally Grown, at The Yellow Brick Wall, September’s featured artist is Ralph Heather.

Ralph Heather is a visual artist living who focuses on original printmaking using non-toxic traditional and contemporary techniques. Using the methods of hand-cut wood block and etching, Heather hand-draws, hand-carves, hand-etches, and hand-prints limited editions at his home studio in Paris, Ontario. Heather has been creating art for as long as he can remember and reminisces about drawing with crayons alongside his mother. As he continues to build his career as an artist, he credits the mentorship of master printmakers Robert Creighton and Wesley Bates who “opened his awareness to seemingly limitless creative opportunities,” and who introduced him to the skills and techniques that have given him the ability to “translate what I see into a line,” respectively.

As if being an exceptional artist is not enough to celebrate Heather, he also excels in drawing and painting (watercolour), teaches printmaking at the Dundas Valley School of Art, is a Registered Graphic Designer, and takes visual arts courses as often as he can. Heather lends his leadership and talents to various community efforts, noting that he finds joy in being part of the vibrant local arts community; he volunteers his time on a number of boards and committees, and is responsible for the coordination of the Brant Studio Tour. Somehow he also finds time to actively exhibit his work, at galleries such as Illumine Gallery (St. Thomas), Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, Woodstock Art Gallery, Grimsby Art Gallery, Carnegie Art Gallery, Dundas Museum & Archives, The Crawford Collective, and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Yellow Brick Wall.

Ralph Heather pulls a woodcut print off of his home studio printing press.

Heather’s most recent series include “Sanctuary” –recognizing our local ancient trees and forests that are threatened by progress, and “Rural Detours,” a series of work that play tribute to the rich history and sense of place evoked by our local rural landscapes. Much of his work expresses the landscape –rural and urban, and traditional and contemporary; the architecture and natural landscape in Brantford and area is a perfect fit for his interests, with its rural settings, evolving downtowns, and the river that connects our communities.

Heather is continually motivated by the talent in our local community, and is awe in the staggering number of talented artists and artisans within a one-hour drive from Brantford. His lifelong career as a creator is inspiring, and his advice to anyone who is looking to build his or her career in the arts is simple: “Enjoy your journey in art, and always express what is meaningful to you.”

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