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Conversations with Heather Whiteside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Whiteside.

Hi Heather, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I began painting at a very young age and when I was fifteen, I attended The Art Students League of New York. It was evident to me all along that art was my purpose and that it would be my life-long career. I dabbled in pretty much all fine art mediums, but painting was clearly my passion.

I focused on different subject matters over the years which usually began with a whim of inspiration. Through these phases, I managed to find an audience for my work and continued to support myself and later my son with my artwork being my sole source of income.

Currently, I divide my time painting both landscapes and cityscapes (depending on my mood).

Over time, I accumulated the equipment to be a completely self-sufficient art studio, so I now handle every aspect of my process, which includes, building/stretching my canvases, photography for reproduction, large format giclée printing of canvases, matted prints, and custom framing.

I sell direct to clients, which include corporations, interior designers, and individual collectors. Outside of my hometown of Knoxville, I also sell my work through select galleries nationwide.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Nothing about my journey and my life as an artist has been smooth or easy. I will often tell aspiring young artists to get a college education in something very practical and sustainable and then if you still want to be an artist, go for it. But at least you’ll have something to fall back on if things don’t go as planned.

I don’t know if you can really plan well for this kind of lifestyle. It’s so full of unexpected obstacles and daily challenges just from a business perspective, and then one must produce great art. You can’t be a one-hit-wonder in this line of work. You really need to continue to have smash hits continually or you will sink to the bottom of the food chain, and you will soon be forgotten.

I envy those artists who don’t have to rely on their art sales to survive but have some other resources. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. But on the flip side, my struggle has earned me an insatiable desire to survive and for that, I have a lot of drive.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am best known for my cityscape and landscape paintings. My work would be described as contemporary impressionism and I have developed a distinctive style that many people recognize as that of a “Whiteside”.

I’d say that I definitely dance to the beat of my own drum – as I’m pretty sure, most true artists do.

What do you think about luck?
I don’t think luck has played a role in my life much at all. I just work really hard and I live with the consequences of my choices along the way (be it good or bad).

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