Heidi Epstein, Benign Creature, watercolor on paper,water color on paper,
i.e. is pleased to welcome Heidi Epstein for her solo exhibit, "Into Stillness". Epstein is a long time Skagit Valley resident. Her day job, which was in art and design, brought her to Seattle on weekdays for many years. Her recent retirement has provided the opportunity to spend more time in her studio and in her Zazen practice. The two together are the seed for this body of work which ranges from watercolors, to print making and needlepoint.
How do we spend our time? This was something Epstein and I discussed on my recent studio visit with her. Artists who are able to spend all the time they want to in their studios are few and far between. Most have their day jobs. Even the artists who make a living from their work must spend time and energy on the hustle or the administrative and promotional aspects. How do we protect or nurture our individual creativity?
Epstein is committed to Zazen, a seated meditation, part of the Zen Buddhist tradition. She is also committed to the days long retreats where silence is observed and meditating is done throughout the day. There are breaks for walks or to rest and this is time Epstein uses to make visual expressions with watercolors or drawings.
One might think that deep seriousness comes out of this type of journey. But the work Epstein gives us is buoyant and reflective. It is light and shimmery. It is transparent and saturated. it is barely there and completely grounded.
In her words:
"The watercolors in the show are a result of a Zen practice, called Zazen (just sitting) done in a retreat setting called a sesshin. I have been doing drawings and watercolors during this practice for over 20 years. On return to my studio I work to distill the experience. Physically, this distillation involves manipulating and eventually eliminating the water leaving only layers of color on the paper. The mood is towards stillness, encouraging a shift from thought to a sensory response.
The show also includes a group of needlepoint drawings done in 2019, a practice that I have enjoyed since childhood. I have also included a new series of Intaglio images printed as an "Edition Varied", allowing for individually achieved plate tone and chine colle' on a variety of papers."
Heidi Epstein, The Floating World, on easel, needlepoint wool on canvas, 11.5 x 8.5 in, 2019