Carmen Heinrichs grew up on a mixed farm where she learned early in life to appreciate nature in all its beauty and diversity. While checking cattle on horseback, she would also observe the waterfowl and wild animals that roamed the hillsides near Herschel, Saskatchewan. Later, as a competitive runner, Heinrichs trained by running along the shores of the lake in their pasture. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was already developing her observational skills as a wildlife artist.
“Everyone in our family was artistic. When my brother Bruno asked if I would do woodburning on jewelry boxes and coffee tables he was building, I readily agreed. That’s how I got started,” Heinrichs relates.
After receiving her degrees in education and physical education at the University of Saskatchewan, Heinrichs taught at the Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in Outlook for several years. In 1997 she married and a few years later the couple moved to Elbow, Saskatchewan where Heinrichs now has a studio and gallery next to their home.
She uses a variety of wood such as birch, willow, poplar and basswood to create her artwork. Slabs of wood are cut to the right size, planed and sanded before sketching and burning can begin. “I have to take into account the colour of the wood, the grain, the texture, as well as the light and dark portions of the wood when sketching a scene. I work from photos and still life and often use real plants as reference material in some of my art. Nature is always the inspiration behind what I do,” she said.
Using special wood-burning tools with a variety of tips, Heinrichs creates depth, texture and value within each scene. Acrylic paint is added as an accent where it’s appropriate. More recently she’s also tried her hand at rock painting and painting scenes on gourds. “I try to use the backgrounds to compliment the scenes I’m painting,” she says.
Heinrichs does the matting and glass cutting, while her husband Brad cuts and assembles the mouldings in their spacious shop/studio.
Throughout the year the artist attends many art and craft shows displaying and selling her work. She also sells her art from her home studio and gallery. She continues to teach classes in pyrography (the technique of burning designs on materials with a heated rod) and has started teaching drawing and painting to children in the community.
For more information about Carmen Heinrich’s art, visit www.carmenart.ca.