Leonardo da Vinci is credited with “discovering” blue tones give the perception of distance – what Laura Heijn has done in her work is combine this theory with texture. What occurs is something new and unique. Skies are violet-blue and painted as if you could feel them. Painterly brushstrokes make us feel we can touch the sky.
Take, for example, Hill Top in Winter with Soft Trees. Everything about this painting suggests touch (not just the title). The sky is sculpted. The trees are “soft”. The yellow hay is bright and spiky.
Touch is also the quality we feel in Winter Barn #6. Wiry trees feel as if we could bend them like pipe-cleaners. The background is distant. Then she pulls us in with dark-blue-brown and wispy-red-orange to get us up one hill and down another. Behind the trees we find a roof which becomes a structural element over several paintings.
Heijn’s ‘perfection’ is her ‘imperfection’. Human qualities of light touch and subtle wobble make her landscapes feel near, alive, and comforting. Layers of color and hundreds of humble brushstrokes produce paintings that are charming and intimate.
Deep empathy (or acceptance) is also part of this work. Looking at Apple Tree with Dandelions, we see a patchwork of grey behind green fields dotted with yellow dandelion. It is Johnson, Vermont; it is spring; it is May.
There is a children's book called The Tomten in which a creature speaks in a language only animals and children can understand. To the horses he sings: "Winters come and winters go, summers come and summers go, soon you will be in your clover field." In Heijn’s work we see the seasons change, as well, and harmonies of color and texture that add up to something fondly cared-for and reassuring.
With Heijn: you can get there from here; you can touch the sky; there is perfection in imperfection; everything changes; and perhaps we can accept all that.