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Conversations | Heather Sundquist Hall

Heather is a painter & illustrator living in Central Texas.

Describe your work as if you're speaking to a 5 year old.

I paint things that someone might see in a dream - part remembering something they saw earlier in the day and the other part fantasy, like out of a movie or your favorite book. I am painting things that make you wonder, make you smile and make you remember the simple things like how good a PB&J is, or going on a road trip adventure and sitting in the back seat.

Your preferred method of getting that good creative vibe going.

First, I like to go on an adventure - even if it’s just a drive down a road I haven’t been down before. Then, I like to go somewhere quiet to log my thoughts on what I am trying to say in a piece or series.

I write a lot - prior to scheming on pieces - to see how best to evoke something familiar and also specific to me. I listen to a lot of music in this phase but lots of older stuff with no words.

I get rather anxious about time so I do whatever I can to build out a good solid chunk of time to get myself ready for a piece. I also like to take a long walk or partake in some other kind of movement activity before I paint. This helps me get out any wiggles and shakes out the consistent desire to distract myself with my phone or plants in the yard.

One living artist or designer you want to have cocktails with.

What drives you absolutely nuts about the (art) world?

Taxes. Health Insurance. But that’s just the (world) world I guess. The art world specifically, I’d have to say all the posturing - that’s the (world) world too though.

A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.

Rust never sleeps

Most recent song you've been listening to on repeat.

Worried Mind - Scott McMicken and THE EVER‐EXPANDING. I am a huge fan of the pictures that Scott paints with his lyrics. In “The Old Black Hole” (from his other band Dr. Dog) he has a line, “These are tears of joy cried the weeping willow.” I just love it so much. 

Last book you read that you couldn't put down.

Trinie Dalton - Wide Eyed. I love Trinie’s take on things. I come back to these short stories often. 

Recent life upgrade that's been a game changer.

Last fall, I started practicing pottery at my friend Katie Fox’s studio in Austin. It’s been really great to get messy and learn a new skill. I feel humbled, frustrated, delighted and euphoric with each object made. It’s the whole shebang of what I personally need. I savor the time in her space each week.

If you could teleport to any bar right now, which bar would it be and what would you be drinking?

Cherry Street Tavern in Philadelphia, where I would have a humble Yuengling or a Black and Tan. It’s a simple old standby that I miss dearly. My runner up would be Planet Marfa in Marfa, Texas to drink a Negro Modelo at sunset. :)

Advice, compliment, insult...something that you will never forget.

I had a professor at FIT in NY who said in class one day, “We are human beings, not human doings.” That always sticks with me (as does his thick german accent).

What podcast or show are you recommending that others may not have heard/seen?

I hope people have heard of this podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed, with writer John Green. He is such a wonderful writer and in each episode he rates and reviews two things from modern living. The reviews are both funny and deeply reflective. Some examples include: air conditioning & sycamore trees and a hot dog eating contest & chemotherapy.

If someone asks you to cook your "specialty" - what are you cooking?

I make a pretty solid Beyond Beef veggie burger with a salad. On the flip side, salted tahini chocolate chip cookies (look it up, you won’t regret it). My first job was at a bakery in my hometown - decorating cookies & cakes and serving stale coffee. I usually am on the side of baking things over cooking. Sugar over salt has always been my weakness. I can’t resist.

What was the most memorable field trip you can remember?

I grew up on Long Island in NY. We went to the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium often. When I say often, I mean like all 8 years of elementary and middle school. We could recite the recordings at the planetarium show by the 8th grade. There was a woman who would walk through the show and would spray water from a spray bottle as the recording talked about rain in the forecast. The water always smelled mildewy - like the bottle hadn't been emptied and replenished in 8 years. We’d always be surprised though and laugh our fool heads off over it. I remember having so much fun on the bus there and back with my friends. It was also the only time we didn't have to wear school uniforms so it was a big deal picking out what you’d be wearing for the big day out.  We’d always get astronaut ice cream at the end and a souvenir pencil. 

Outside of school though, my aunt would take me to NYC every year for my birthday where we’d usually go to the Natural History Museum, which was and possibly still is my favorite museum. I remember the train rides into Penn Station, the smells of the city (both fantastic and atrocious) and all the noisy sounds. We always had such a fun time walking around and seeing all the sites. 

A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.

We have a giant ceramic pull tab made by Camp Bosworth that I just love. He’s primarily a woodworker, but dabbled in ceramics for a minute. I love the scale and his attention to the details.

Huge shout out to ______ for ______!

Huge shout out to Julie and Bruce Lee Webb for showcasing my work for all these years at the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie and Fort Davis, TX along with so many talented folks. I am so lucky to know them and to have spent time in their eclectic and delightful spaces. Long may they roam.

Check out more of Heather's work here.

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