Heather Ashley Coppinger
creates beautiful oil paintings of fantastical, sometimes surreal landscapes.
The Oakland County native just graduated from Oakland University this spring with a fine art background in drawing and painting.
"I'm still trying to figure out the right vocabulary for the work I do," she says. She describes them as "landscapes in a magical-real style." At first glance or from a distance, her work seems to be more straightforward landscapes. Upon closer inspection, however, the more magical, fanciful elements become apparent – the landscapes are clearly informed by a sense of realism as much as otherworldly fantasy.
Coppinger says she is influenced by the works of writers like Gabriel García Márquez and Eckhart Tolle, and painters such as Inka Essenhigh, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí.
"I strive to create a connection between the mundane perspective of daily life and the magical," she explains. "I feel that we get so caught up in the daily hustle and bustle that we forget to slow down and be in the moment. We have so many preconceived ideas about what we should experience in our lives, that we rarely make time to explore the unknown. The intention of my work is to provide the viewer with a meditative escape from the everyday grind, and invite them to slow down and explore the world they are in without any internal dialogue or preconceived ideas."
She is inspired by nature, but with each work she starts without knowing what the end result will be.
"It develops by what I see when I'm painting," Coppinger says. "I'll start with a color scheme, do a lot of layers over time, and kind of get lost in the process of painting. I just paint what I see over time."
Though she is still very new to the art world, Coppinger has already had a few exhibitions and shown in juried competitions. Her large diptych work "Ethereal Faye," also her college thesis work, appeared in this year's ArtPrize
in Grand Rapids, one of the largest art events in the world in both total value of prizes awarded and annual attendance.
"Ethereal Faye" was also selected for exhibition in the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series
, an international competition open to U.S. and Canadian citizens. Thousands of applicants were whittled down to 103 semi-finalists whose works will be displayed in 14 different regional locations throughout North America. One regional winner from each gallery event will go on to show their work at SCOPE Miami Beach
starting late November, along with two winners of the online voting
. The Detroit regional gallery's opening reception will be held November 4 from 6-9 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
"I was slightly overwhelmed at first with ArtPrize," Coppinger says. "I'm trying to navigate how I'm going to move forward with my work. I have a few projects I'm working on in a few different areas: I wrote and am illustrating a children's book; I'm hoping to maybe get gallery representation, going into more exhibitions and doing more events. I want to make a few more bodies of work and travel a little – get more life experience in."
Coppinger has works available for sale on her website
and also takes commissions. Because of her process, in which the work "starts in one place and ends somewhere completely different," Coppinger also includes two prints of the piece in process with the completed work whenever a work is commissioned. "It kind of makes it unique, seeing the story from start to finish."
Coppinger is still a very young artist with a long and promising career ahead of her. Watching her develop as an artist will surely be as fascinating as watching one of her paintings reveal themselves through her paintbrush.