Coming Full Circle with Laura Heilman

This article is written by Laura Heilman of Wildwood Mama

Laura Heilman's fabric mixed media artwork

When I was in high school, I entered an art contest. I remember sitting on the floor upstairs, with all of my supplies and whatnots around me. I drew an owl flying over the moon, an image I had seen on the cover of one of my favorite novels. Then I got creative and free and had fun with it. I glued on fabric for the owl’s body. I did some pen and ink, some watercolor. Who knows what else…I don’t have the piece anymore. Then I entered it in the contest, sure that I would never win. Turns out, I won first place. How did I feel about it? Embarrassed and insecure, which galls me now thinking back. I didn’t think I deserved it. The other pieces in the contest were sharp, finished…glowing with technique and artistic prowess…so much more advanced than my amateurish, childish effort.

Laura in High School

It took me a long time to get back to doing mixed media art like that… free spirited and fun and devil may care. It wasn’t a conscious thing, I’d forgotten all about that contest until I started hand sewing again. Even though I had the complete and utter support of my artistic parents, I did what a lot of people do, in a lot of different ways. I devalued my natural talents and yearned for what I didn’t have. To be fair, it does take some of us longer to figure these things out. Maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

Mixed Media collage by Laura Heilman

I suppose that was part of my journey too. I needed to walk a straight line first in order to walk any which way I pleased. You see, now my free spirit yearns for change, flexibility and spontaneity in art. That is exactly what mixed media allows me to explore.  The imperfect symmetry of nature is my inspiration where mistakes become new pathways to self realization.

Mixed Media collage by Laura Heilman

My favorite medium is fabric…I can paint on it, glue things to it, stitch it up and then glue it down to just about anything. A thread gone astray becomes a wild stalk of grass. When my daughter bumps my hand accidentally as I’m painting, the mistake can be transformed into a bird or a pathway or maybe even just a random blob.  I have come full circle with my art, I have learned to let go. As I sit surrounded by paint bottles, brushes, muslin, scissors and thread, I wave merrily to that teenage girl I used to be, the one who made art with such abandon, such free spirited creativity…but she is too busy creating her masterpiece to pay me any mind.


Mixed Media collage by Laura Heilman

To see a step-by-step tutorial, pop over to this tutorial on Laura’s blog – Mixed Media Textile Art & Sewing Tutorial

You can also see more of Laura’s work over at her blog ~ Wildwood Mama and her Etsy store ~ Wildwood Family Studio



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