Archives for category: paintings

Ghost paintingI took down Interact this past week at 3rd Street Gallery and was pleased with the success of it. I feel that it was exactly what I wanted it to be in terms of the work, the concepts and the presentation – a rare delight that I will remember. Much of the work sold, but there are still some pieces available on my portfolio site.

Now that I’ve taken a little rest for my thoughts to settle and return to a place of making, I’m excited to get back in the studio and do some drawings. I have been wanting to continue with the kite drawings, along with working on some paintings using some additional scraps. And those chalkboard – ghosty paintings (see above)…  oh and then there is the wood scraps out on the back patio… ohh and that piece of a door I picked up out of someone’s trash last week. And then I was reminded about Judy Pfaff. So there’s that to think about as well. I guess there are some things to work on…


There is a lot in my work that is about tension, space, density and relation between objects and people. Recently I have been looking at past work and realizing that I really have been exploring these issues for nearly ten years. The work drifts a bit, but the core of it always holds tight to these themes. I find the way we as people fill space, whether it be by cars on a road or with silence, something is always there. Filling or leaving us wanting.

I Wish We Could Speak by Heather Riley

I Wish We Could Speak
7.75 x 5.5 x 1.75 inches
Oil and found wood on panel


Saturday in Lima by Heather Riley

Saturday in Lima
20.5 x 12 x 1.75
Oil, wood floorboard on panel

There has been plenty of work happening in the studio this past month. It’s always reassuring when the work gets into a bad place and then I eventually can get it out. Some works often have to be taken apart, painted over, or partially destroyed in order to move forward, but I have accepted this as part of the process. Both 328 (60 x 24 inches) and Witnesses (48 x 30 inches) below have gone through several lives and are finally settling into themselves. Balloons at Night (30 x 22 inches) always knew what it would be -and that happens sometimes too. All of the works below are still in progress.

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I’ve been busy in the past months making plenty of work and finally getting my studio site up and running. Check it out at

I’ve continued with the wood pieces that I started making in February, and they have lead to other work of course. After a trip to Lima, I returned home to find that most of my work has been dealing with density and space. Here is a little slideshow showing the work in progress in the studio right now:

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A painting that I’m working on. A friend of mine told me that it starts angry and ends angry – which is true in terms of the process. This painting is in process…

Then and Now by Heather Riley, local Philadelphia artist

Then and Now
Mixed media on canvas
60 x 30 inches

Arrival by Heather Riley, local Philadelphia artist

I’ve been painting and creating a lot in the past weeks – after dealing with the flu, I’m finally able to be back to the blog. I have been exploring different materials, different approaches and letting myself play more in the studio. I go through cycles it seems – where making work can be difficult, restricted and tedious — to just playing around with every possibility. The latter is where I am now, and I am grateful for it after a long few months of the tedious. I’m going to put up several short posts to get caught up – and just show the work. Here is one to start.

Oil on Canvas
8 x 16 inches

Yesterday I spent some time looking at work by Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline, Grace Hartigan and others – and then started this piece. Things have felt a little tight in the studio lately – could be the lack of critique, the smaller work, or myself being a little tense. I needed to loosen up a bit with the work so I just started to make something – not allowing myself to attach too much thought. I find that the work still has a more fresh feel if I don’t over plan. Over planning just causes issue — a flattening of an idea usually. So I have no idea what this will do – I am excited about the green… as it isn’t a usual color in my palette.

Witnesses by Heather Riley

Witnesses (Work in Progress)
Paper, graphite, chalk, acrylic and oil on paper
45 x 30.5 inches

Another piece affected by the land of the southwest – along with the consequences of a shifting relationship in my life. It is essentially about grief and loss, but with a wide open space to move into. I’m only in the 3rd or 4th layer, so this is just beginning.

Blue Beneath by Heather Riley

Blue Beneath (work in progress)
Oil on canvas
23.5 x 30 inches

I’ve been doing these little pieces on paper – I like doing them because they are fast and help me learn some new things for the bigger work. I seem to not want to fill up as much of the piece either, which is odd considering in the large work I find myself getting dense relatively easily. They are a bit like sketching for me – small, wonderful drawings about my larger work.

Get Newsy by Heather Riley

Get Newsy
Paper, sticker, graphite, acrylic and oil on paper
6 x 4 inches

A Story in Progress by Heather Riley

A Story in Progress
Paper, chalk, string, graphite, acrylic and oil on paper
6 x 4.5 inches

The 3rd Street Gallery, which I am a member of, recently did an amazing renovation of it’s back room, changing it from a storage area to a showing space. As a group we decided that it would be very cool to have small works shows in there for the membership. The first show opens this Friday – along with works by Priscilla Snow Algava and Rhea Dennis in the large gallery. Below is the piece I did for the small works show – stop by to check it out!

"Morning" by Heather Riley, a local Philadelphia artist

Graphite, conte, ink, paper, acrylic and oil on paper
5.5 x 4.5 inches

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