Cathy Heller One-Woman Show at PSAA

By PAT JOHNSON | Jan 08, 2020
Photo by: Pat Johnson Artist Cathy Heller of Little Egg Harbor has perfected her skill in representational art executed in colored pencil. Her one-woman show is currently at the PSAA gallery in Manahawkin.

Stafford Township, NJ — There were comments of astonishment and appreciation for the detailed colored pencil works by artist Cathy Heller during her reception Sunday for her one-woman show at the Pine Shores Art Association’s gallery in Manahawkin.

“How does she do it? What patience! Just beautiful!”

The artist ,from Little Egg Harbor Township, spends months bent over her drawing board to finish her larger pieces that she enters in the Colored Pencil Society of America’s annual International Colored Pencil Exhibit. In 2018, she won the Legion Paper Award for Exceptional Merit at the CPSA’s Chicago exhibit for her painting “Bakelite Bangles.” This award-winning painting was a mind-bending collection of bracelets painted in myriad colors. This year Heller went even farther up the OCD scale to complete “Buttonology,” a depiction of hundreds of tiny buttons for her submission to the CPSA exhibit. Yes, she uses photos as reference for her highly realistic works, but for “Buttonology,” after mapping out the design, she held each button in her hand as she sketched and colored it.

Heller’s husband, Jim, must be an art-widower, joked some of her friends from her church, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Tuckerton, but Cathy said no, he has lots of activities with the church and the Tuckerton Seaport, where he volunteers.

Cathy Heller moved back to New Jersey (originally she was from Bound Brook) after spending many years in northern Virginia. In Occoquan, Va., a small town north of D.C., she was an exhibiting member of the Artist’s Undertaking Gallery, so called because it was originally a funeral parlor. Here she had an entire wall to exhibit her work, and she did many portraits on commission. Filling the Pine Shores gallery required at least 20 pieces of art, but she supplied 48-framed originals and a few prints. One of these works is a sensitive portrait of her daughter Kristen relaxing in the sun, titled “Siesta.”

“I like to draw landscapes, seascapes and still life using a bold, colorful and minimalist approach in my compositions,” she writes in her artist’s statement.

Heller received her associate’s degree in art from Centenary College and has furthered her skills by taking courses and workshops with professional artists in colored pencil, pastel and watercolor. She works primarily in colored pencil but has a few pastel paintings and photographs in the show.

Her works on exhibit include autumn scenes with pumpkins and gourds – she received two PSAA Best in Show Awards for “Moonshine” and “Autumn Bounty” – seascapes, seashells and sea glass, tulips, fruits and flowers, anything colorful and difficult to capture. More than one person at the show was disappointed to read that “Everlastings” – a painting of baskets of dried flowers on a sunlit porch – was not for sale. But by the afternoon’s end, Heller had sold a number of works, including a large depiction of the LBI Fly Kite Festival titled “Skydiver.”

Colored pencil as a medium has a hard time being accepted as a serious art form, but Heller’s artistic works have done much to elevate it. The exhibit is available for viewing on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the PSAA gallery, 94 Stafford Ave. in Manahawkin.

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

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