Five questions to Nora Heikamp

Five questions to Nora Heikamp

Nora Heikamp is an abstract painter, born in 1987 in Bochum, Germany. She currently lives and works in Utrecht, the Netherlands, but also spends a few months of the year working and painting in Spain. Nora has studied art at the IBKK Design and Kunstzentrum in Bochum and specialises in colourful, expressive ink and acrylic paintings. 

Tell us your story, why did you become an artist?

My mother used to paint, so I was surrounded by art very early in my life. I always loved to paint, even as a child. But as a perfectionist I was always confronted with self-doubt and a fears of failing, which is why it took me a while to completely embrace art as an essential part of me. I’m an overthinker, but when I paint, I stop thinking, hours feel like seconds and there is not a single worry in my mind. It’s also my time to break rules, taking risks and let go of control, something I have trouble with in daily life. Really, it’s about connecting with myself, discovering who I really am deep down and what is beneath the surface that needs to get out. Every single painting tells me a new detail about my personality and brings me closer to myself.

When you create a new work, how do you go about it? What comes first?

I’m a very intuitive person and I create my best artworks when I go into it without a plan. I usually start with a soft, transparent ink layer and water, let it dry and just wait for the surprise of what it dries into. Everything that comes next goes very fast: More colours, stronger opacity, ticker layers of paint, splashes, scratches and personal marks. I’m changing up the materials and mediums, going from ink to watercolour or acrylic, crayons and oil sticks, depending on what the painting needs. It’s a playful and spontaneous process, that can sometimes take weeks and sometimes only a few hours. Usually, the faster I paint, the better the result, the moment I start overthinking everything goes downhill.

What can you tell us about your studio, what makes it special to you and how does it influence the way you work?

At the moment, my main studio is a spare room in our house in Utrecht. It’s actually a very small space in which I use every corner for my materials and painting process. It’s special to me, because it allows me to paint in every spare minutes that I have.

For the past two months, I have been living in Spain and my “studio” has even been better here: from a balcony with sea views to painting on a rooftop in Seville with views of the cathedral. Being in this environment has inspired me a lot, the sun, the blue sky, the sea, the greens and pinks of the flowers and plants around me, all of this has had its influence on my most recent paintings.

Is there a work of art in your life that has especially impressed you?

The artist that has left the biggest impression on me most recently is Frida Kahlo. I visited her house, Casa Azul, last year in Mexico City and was touched by the vulnerability she shows in her work. It’s sad, but uplifting and beautiful and courageous at the same time. There is not one single artwork that I want to name specifically, it’s about the essence of her work altogether. Her pain and strength can be felt in each of her paintings, sketches and notes, her soul can be felt everywhere in Mexico City. Vulnerability, or being comfortable with showing it, has been an important topic for me during the past few years, which is probably why her works speak to me that much.

Reach to the stars: where will you be in 5 years?

My big dream at the moment is to have a big studio outside of my house, with lots of space and natural light, where I can just go crazy with my art and be as messy as I want. Even though I can paint whenever I want with my current studio at home, I’m starting to feel limitations in light and space while I’m creating, especially when I want to paint in a bigger scale.

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