For Becca Heavrin, creating art is a process of discovery.
She begins with a line of blank canvases in front of her — perhaps as many as eight — and makes some quick strokes with her paintbrush, loosely outlining vague images or even just cleaning her brush off.
She doesn’t begin with an idea in mind, but as the canvases fill up and shapes begin to emerge, she said the painting’s final destination becomes apparent to her.
“You just sort of step back and go, ‘Oh gosh, there’s a face over there,’ or ‘That kind of looks like a flower, or a bird,’” she said, describing how her art happens.
Both Heavrin’s art and her unique creative process are now on display for Whidbey Island residents, as the artist has recently taken up residence at a gallery and open studio at Greenbank Farm.
Though Heavrin has been creating art since she was a child, she only recently started doing it full time. Originally from Maine, then a longtime resident of the Seattle area, Heavrin spent much of her career in corporate retail.
About three years ago, however, an upturn in her personal health allowed her to break out of the corporate world and devote herself fully to her creative interests.
“I am an acrylic painter and mixed media artist, and I work in bright colors and calming compositions,” she said of her work. “I love being outside, and so I bring that energy into the painting.”
She spent her first two years as a full-time artist working craft shows and festivals, which she loved, but her schedule cleared when COVID-19 hit, canceling large events and creating a strain that was felt all across the artistic community.
Now that communities are beginning to reopen and return to an almost pre-pandemic state, Heavrin is ready to hit the ground running.
She had already been planning to relocate to Whidbey Island when she saw an ad for a gallery space in Greenbank. Still months away from the move, and certain the space would be snatched up before she could so much as make an inquiring phone call, she forgot about it. A few months later, however, she saw another ad — the space was still available.
“It just kind of worked out in that crazy way that serendipity does sometimes,” she said.
Now, Heavrin has made the space into a gallery and open studio. Since Heavrin will be painting and creating in the same place that her art is displayed, Whidbey art patrons can watch and even take part in her creative process.
“I had somebody come in yesterday and go, ‘Gosh, there’s the head of a deer in that canvas,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, what? Where?’” she said. “It’s so cool — somebody else saw something in that canvas, and it changes it for me, too.”
What makes art special to Heavrin is the emotion that goes into creation, especially as she experiences it in her own distinctive process. In that way, she said, art reflects real life.
“The canvas transitions from a chaotic state to something that is becoming, and it can be really uncomfortable in that state, just like we are as humans when things are transitioning,” she said.