Solo show at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove

Heather Shirin at the Cliffs at Walnut CoveThe Walnut Cove ClubHouse

Heather Shirin will have her solo show at the Cliffs Clubhouse from June 23rd- August 25th 2013 with an opening recepetion on July 1st from 6-8pm. The Tavern sits at the heart of Walnut Cove’s Club Village, inspired by the traditions of an old European town square. Offering fine and casual dining in an elegantly refined setting, The Clubhouse provides both a grand dining hall for dinner celebrations, and for Heather's artist reception. Libations and wine will be served.

Heather Shirin Solo Show at the Hilton Biltmore Park Town Square


See my work at the Hilton at the Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville NC now thru September 2013.

1 Town Square Blvd  Asheville, NC 28803


  • In Biltmore Park Town Square, close to many things to do in Asheville
  • Minutes from Biltmore Estate, with easy access to downtown Asheville
  • Innovative cuisine at the hotel's Roux restaurant and bar
  • Complimentary internet access throughout the hotel and in our Asheville hotel rooms
  • Sensibilities Spa, indoor pool and whirlpool
  • 4,500 sq. ft. of flexible event space, accommodating up to 225 guests


Artist Profile: Heather Shirin by Colin Hanson

Artist Profile Heather Shirin  

Colin Hanson Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


Chaos by Heather ShirinHeather Shirin brings a whole new level of intimacy to art, not only in commitment to each piece she creates, but also to all forms of art that she encounters. I was not surprised to walk up her driveway and find “MXDMEDA” (mixed media ) printed into her license plate. At the door was a young woman, short blond hair styled neatly, holding a fluffy white cat. She smiled, welcoming me in with a gesture and a friendly “Come on in!”

As I entered her home, I was struck by an epiphany; painting is not just a money maker, or even just a hobby for her to enjoy. Heather’s art is authentic, with a perception all her own. Walking into her small, earth toned and well-furnished living room, I notice several of her art pieces hanging on each wall. One is of a tree, its branches bent and angled; it reminded me of an old man who had stood too long in one place and became a Japanese Cherry Blossom. Another is on the opposite wall, next to the three windows that light up the room. It depicts a bare breasted woman, face buried in her arm; she seems to be outside, hiding away from a world she wishes not to be a part of. As Heather and I trade small talk, I anxiously prepare myself for an interview I have looked forward to for weeks.

Once everything was ready, I asked my first question; “So Heather, tell me how you became to be an artist, tell me your story.” I know immediately that I have set myself up for quite a story. “Well, I was born in Minnesota, May 23rd, 1975,” she starts, looking at the wall as she recalls her history. “From there, well my father Edwin Thomas…Dean of Engineering at Rice University - I want to say he’s a genius. My dad is a genius, he really is,” she continues with a laugh, telling me how her father’s love for science inspired her own. She explains how her scientific view on life allowed her to be open to the possibilities, which eventually encouraged her art. Her father’s ties to the scientific community also allowed her and her family to travel; Shirin recalls having visited Germany, England, France, Italy, Greece and Tokyo. After seeing all the different kinds of artwork, ranging from ancient Japanese watercolors to the Statue of David, she saw an interest in painting, beginning down the road to developing her own style.

This style of hers, however, did not come easy. “All my life, I’ve really struggled to find my own style”, she tells me. Her first big influence was an artist named Gustav Klimt, whose use of gold leaf greatly inspired her. She began to use it quite often in her artwork, slowly expanding to other techniques like those of Kelly Rae Roberts, and Il Sung Na, mixing them together in a way that began to form a whole new style. One she could call her own. She began to experiment with mixed media, using a wide range of mediums to work with. She uses fabrics, paints, lace, paper, oils, old love letters, sheet music, earrings and of course, gold leaf. But these are just a few of the kinds of material she uses to create art. 

I must be dreaming by Heather ShirinAmazed at her art, and what she used in it, I asked her what her process was. She took me over to a little table, next to her brand new easel, and showed me a clothing magazine. In it was a photograph of two women, one lying on the ground, the other resting her head on the other’s stomach. They both looked calm; one had her eyes closed. I looked up, seeing that it was very similar in appearance to her newest work of art, called “I Must Be Dreaming.” “I find art everywhere” she says. “When I saw these two women, I fell in love with the way the picture was taken, and how the women looked in it. So I decided to paint it, in my own style.” She shows me a small pile of photos she has, telling me how she looks through them for inspiration. But photos are just one aspect of her process; she looks for inspiration in everything. One of her paintings currently in process is of her hair dresser Copper, whose rainbow colored hair inspired Heather to paint her. She also draws upon personal experiences for some paintings, showing me one particular work that had old love letters from her fiancé (now husband) glued to the wood, and then painted over, adding both a sentimental significance as well as a texture to the piece. When I touched the paper, I could physically feel her emotional connection to the piece.

Realizing how much she drew upon her own life to create her artwork, I decided to talk to her husband, Paul, to find out a little more about the dynamic that he brings to her art. Paul is a tall, built man, with short brown hair and a deep, but kind, voice. He is a musician, a fan of Japanese robots, and builds guitars. I got the pleasure of playing one of his guitars, which he named Seed, as it was the seed to his growing efforts. As I watched Paul and Heather interact, laugh, and smile together, I discovered that Paul was not just her husband, but perhaps one of the biggest influences on her art; the bond they share together is expressed throughout Heather’s artwork, expressed in happiness, love, and respect.

As we leave Paul and Heather’s garage, which is currently Paul’s workshop for constructing guitars, I ask Heather what is next for her. She tells me that apart from finishing her Japanese zen garden, she hopes to get picked up by a Gallery, hopefully one that will allow her to become a full time artist. “Maybe someday I’ll be picked up by a museum,” she adds with a smile, “so I’ll be remembered in art history.” 

As I leave the Shirin home, I wave goodbye to Heather, Paul, and their three cats; Meushi, Hunny, and Totoro. I smile to myself as I recall something Heather had said to me. “I believe that I was put on this earth to paint.” I for one, couldn’t agree more.

We Do Campaign Fundraiser

Since I am a huge supporter of Marriage Equality, I have decied to help fundraise for the We Do Campaign for Southern Equality.

The WE DO Campaign involves LGBT couples in the Southern communities where they live requesting – and being denied – marriage licenses to call for full equality under federal law. The WE DO Campaign will continue to grow across the South until LGBT people achieve full equality under federal law.

To help this great cause, I am offering a special wedding gift of 10% off all orignial paintings for same sex couples getting married! An additional 10% of that sale will be donated to help fight for marriage equality for the WE DO campaign. This offer is good on any work not currently hung in one of my current galleries. Most of my work is available for purchase and can be viewed at Please email me at for more availability, prices and shippping information. 

Launched in 2011, the WE DO Campaign has involved 76 LGBT couples in 7 Southern states applying for marriage licenses in their hometowns. Watch the WE DO videos to learn more!

Here's to love. To being proud. To taking a stand for what is right. To help fight for others, as I would want them to fight for me. This makes me feel so good to do something to help those just trying to have equal rights. <3

We Close Our Eyes 18 x 24, $900

Can you make a gift right now to support the WE DO Campaign?

Yes of course!

Saw this awesome video today on

This Gay Pride Video Makes Me As Happy As Riding A Candy-Colored Unicorn On A Road Made Of Rainbows


Please also visit to help support my art. 





'Beaus Bend' Photo Into "Will You Still Love Me?"

I had the pleasure of using Heather Evans Smith Photo entitled "Beaus Bend" - and turn it into a mixed media painting.

"I want my photographs to tell stories. And I want stories that come from moments of life, like a still from an old movie. Movement and pain and the simple joys of being alive are frozen in time. Only a glance is needed to read the lines between people and find the story."  

Heather Evans Smith is an award winning fine art and conceptual portrait photographer based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her work captures both the everyday and the whimsical, telling stories of women and struggle, reality and the surreal.

Smith’s work has been featured in solo and joint exhibitions, magazines, literary journals and online publications. She conducts creativity workshops around the country. She will be part of a Group Exhibition for the Julia Margaret Cameron Awardees Women Photographers Biennial in Paris, France this September and is having a solo show ay the Golden Belt Gallery in Durham NC, this October. Here is her original photo Beaus Bend:

Heather Evans Smith Copyright 2013

Below is my painting entitled "Will You Still Love Me?" Made with acrylic paint, silver metallic paint, and fine art paper. The image is very haunting and romantic. The title of the piece is lyrics from the Great Gatsby movie soundtrack by Lena Del Ray's "Young and Beautiful".  I was going to name the painting "Will you still love me when I no longer young and beautiful"? but my adorable husband said, its kinda about just "Will You Still Love Me?" and I said, yeah, you're right. So he named this piece - which is fitting since I know he will still love me when all I have is this painting and my aching soul :)

Heather Evans Smith was so kind to allow me to paint her own art directed photo. I want to hire her to do a portrait of me, so I am dreaming up an amazing photoshoot.  My painting is so intense because the original photo was so good to begin with. "Will You Still Love Me?" is availalble for purchase, so please contact me for details.


Will You Still Love Me? 48 x 36 by Heather Shirin

Dolce Far Niente Art Opening!

Guest during the opening at Working Girls Studios!What a night! My first opening was a huge success! We had a great turn out of many family and friends. My mother flew in special from Houston TX just to surprise me and join me for this wonderful experience! It meant so muich to me that she and I got to be there together for this night.

Me and my mom, who came as a surprise!I got to catch up with my friends (my models) and took a photo with them infront of the painting. I met so many new people, and made some great contacts within the art world. I was also able to show my work to my future gallery.... from this show I was given new gallery representation downtown at Gallery Asheville!

Mattie, Me and Robin in front of the painting of them "Trust In Me"

One of the best parts of the night was watching Ande and Iris see their portrait for the first time as well! We all had a great time drinking and feasting on all kinds of great food and wine. My husband Paul helped with the gallery sign out front, and made home made deviled eggs! The spread had the most beautiful flowers from Blossoms at Biltmore Park Town Square. The night ended with Kitty Love of the Asheville Area Arts Council stopping in to congratulate me. We then headed off with my best friend Dan, my mom and my husband to celebrate at Bouchon - our favorite French restaurant!

Ande and Iris seeing their portrait for the first time together!

The Liberty Interview

My second interview regarding my art and my life was written recently by my new friend Patti Friday Jan 30th, 2013.

I loved how Patti searched and used many images of my before and after photos of paintings during their creation! It was so cool to see some of the works side by side with the images of them in the making. I enjoyed discussing all kinds of interesting questions with her, and especially talking about my new home here in Asheville NC.

The Liberty Interview by Patty Friday

I knew you would want to learn all about this magnificent talent; her art, her world, studio, thoughts - fears - she is so open and authentic. You will fall in love with her.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Heather Shirin.

Q:Tell us about the day you realized you wanted to be an artist.

A: I don't remember any specific date that I wanted to be an artist - but I do remember a time when all I wanted to be was better at one thing than my older sister.  I went on to become a Digital Media Designer and Fine Artist.

Q: What mediums do you work with and do you feel that will change over time? What medium will come next for you?

A: I am a mixed media artist, so I work daily with many art supplies. I currently use acrylics, gold leaf, fine art paper, glue, glitters, pencils and work on birch wood panels. I definitely think this will shift since as I grow and change - as I used to work with oils and canvas primarily.

Q: Why North Carolina? I feel there is a journey here. Would you like to share?

A: I researched places to move to while living outside of Boston. A very long story short - Asheville is a beautiful mountain art community with tons of galleries, and a vibrant art scene. There are over 5,000 working artisans in this area, specializing in handmade exquisite crafts. Many ceramics, glass, painters and metal smiths. We have furniture makers and wonderful fiber artists galore.

Its a small town with less traffic than a large city, and is more affordable too. I love that is has less snow and warmer weather as well. Its the perfect balance of beauty and weather with art and music. I can now see the milky way from my front yard!

Q: Can you describe your studio and what a typical day is like there?

A:  My studio is in my home. Most mornings are slow, and I get into the studio after breakfast and some computer time. Some mornings I fit in yoga as well. Then I get the music and apron on, and work until my husband comes home at night. Its usually in and out of the workshop too for varnishing and staining the works.

Q: Do you snack, graze or eat full meals while you work? What is your favorite food?

A: I grab something quick for lunch and snack as needed. 

Q: Do you listen to music while you work? Any favorites?

A: Yes! My music is always on. I love Imogen Heap for her original sound and lyrics.

Q: Do you like to paint alone?

A:  Yes, I am too social to have company to concentrate well when I am at the easel, plus I love to sing while I paint :) I do keep company with 3 studio cats who are my best companions.

Q: Who helps you with your promotion and business side?

A: Since I am a professional Graphic Designer, I handle most of my own marketing materials, design my own website etc. My husband helps me with everything else. He's my biggest fan, my art photographer and my hardware installer. He carries anything heavy and helps me with some business things when needed. He is amazing - and helps me with also providing our health insurance and emotional support as my best friend.

Q: What is your ultimate goal?

A: To teach workshops in Italy, and to have a show in Paris!

Q: Can you share any upcoming series you’re thinking about?

A: Nope, never plan that far ahead.

Q: What is the art scene like now in your region?

A:  Its amazing. Asheville has been ranked as the #1 small city in the US for art buying. There are a ton of galleries and artists making a living here.

Q: How do you use social media for your career?

A: I use Facebook for a fan page... post works in progress and create events for my openings. You can also follow me on Twitter.... @heathershirin

Q: What jobs/careers have you had in the past?

A:  I am also a Digital Media Designer. I specialize in user interface design for enterprise ecommerce sites and mobile phone apps.

Q: Coffee or Tea?

A: coffee with organic stevia extract and lactose free milk.

Q: Do you have an altar or meditation area in your studio?

A:  No, I have a Japanese zen garden in the backyard.

Q: Who is your creative muse?

A: Other artists.

Q: Which artists have influenced you?

A: My favorite artists right now are

artists like Gustav Klimt, Audrey Kawaski and more influence me greatly.

Q: Any art ed?

A: Not yet.

Q: Do you teach art?

A:  Yes! I have taught mixed media collage and this spring I am teaching 'Art Nouveau Portraits'

Q: What do you do when you become ‘creatively stuck’? How do you recharge and refill?

A: I go online and rest. Go shopping. I watch movies, and go to galleries to be inspired.

Q: What are the worst things that have happened to you?

A: These are hard to discuss. I will keep it short, since most are a very long story with deep sadness.

I went thru a broken engagement - calling off my first wedding 2 months before the date... after the invites had been sent. It was a terrible time, and then I lost my cat Kabuki - she was 1.5 years old and never found her. I cried everyday for the kitty and the children I would never raise.

Last year I had a loss of my kitten Totoro, who was diagnosed with a fatal disease - and he passed away at 7 months old on new years eve 2011. The worst thing in the world was watching my "baby" die in my arms with nothing we could do about it after trying so hard to save his life. It was so emotionally devastating. The loss of my kitten was one of the most trying times of my life.

Q: What are the 3 best things that have happened to you?

A: The best so far was making the right decision to marry my love, Paul. He has made all my dreams come true! I couldn't do what I do without him! Secondly moving to Asheville was a great thing. It changed everything. Being in the right place makes it easier to be who you are meant to be.

Thirdly the best thing that ever happened to me? Not sure yet. I wanna keep that one for the future.

Q: What makes you sad?

A: I worry about things, the stress it brings - all that type of stuff brings me down. Basically fear, worry and stress make me sad.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: My husband, family, friends and especially my cats make me happy. Singing. Gardening... Camping. The Beach! I love eating out, relaxing, being in my garden, watching shooting stars, bonfires, traveling, and laughing until you cry and your belly hurts.

Q: What do you wear while you work in the studio?

A: Comfortable clothes, soft cottons, soft everything. I usually shop in the pajama section for most of my wardrobe! Then I wear an apron for painting. I wear gloves and face masks when handling toxic supplies.

Q: If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A:  I have been a web and graphic designer professionally for years and still practice the digital design side of my life... right now I would want to work at a garden center or work with animals. 

Q: Name 10 people you would invite to a dinner party.

A: I would invite just Ewan Mcgregor. Anyone else I would invite would simply be completely ignored! 

If I must it would be many other artists - Joan Dumouchel, Amy Sol, Audrey Kawaski, Sabrina Hard Harrison, the author Tama Kieves, David Tennant and my favorite musicians.

Liberty Post says, Thank You Heather Shirin - We think you are a fabulous artist and amazing person!

Everytime I Close My Eyes - Inspired by Gustav Klimt

Everytime I Close My Eyes 48 x 24'Everytime I Close My Eyes' is a lovely portrait done of my friend Ande and her baby Iris. Iris is just over a year old, and was sleeping when we took the image for this mixed media collage painting. 

The style was inspired by Gustav Klimt, one of my all time favorite artists. The image I saw when I looked at Ande and Iris, was of the mother and child - a detail from the 'Three Stages of Woman' by Klimt.

In the painting we see three women at different stages of life.  The youngest is the baby, then the mother and then off to the side, an old woman.  These three figures have appeared before, slightly altered in form, in some of his earlier and later paintings, such as Medicine which he first exhibited at the 10th exhibition of the Secession Group in Vienna in 1901 and Death and Life which he completed in 1911. Unfortunately, the painting Medicine, was destroyed most likely during World War II.

Gustav Klimt "Three Stages of Woman'
The image I created also used circles, but with a heavenly body theme of stars and nebulas verses the use of flowers and circles.

Klimt’s elaborate, explicitly sensual works expressed themes of regeneration, love and death, and incorporated Egyptian, Classical Greek, Byzantine and Medieval styles.

“If you can’t please everyone with your deeds and art, please just a few.” – Gustav Klimt

Klimt also utilized symbols representing art’s liberation from traditional culture. Laying the groundwork for Art Deco and Modernism, Klimt’s creative influence can still be seen in today’s art, decorations and jewelry. 

Art Nouveau Portrait Class Overview

Alphonse MuchaArt Nouveau Portrait Class -  April 2013

Learn more about how Alphonse Mucha and Gustav Klimt worked on their famous Art Nouveau portraits of women. A review of the body of work that these two artists developed will be discussed, and an indepth look at the materials and techniques.

Alphonse Mucha was a Czech illustrator who, together with the work of several other luminaries like Gustav Klimt, came to be known as the movement of Art Noveau. Mucha painted in a very graphic, decorative style, with color palettes that were very often subdued, and used thick, bold lines to highlight his subject of interest.  Kilmt also used women regularly in his work, with highly decorative styles which usually incorporated gold leaf.  The designs of these artists combine geometric patterning with dramatic female figures whose impact is heightened by the way they emerge from or blend with that pattern. 

The class will learn how to incorporate gold and silver leaf on to their work surfaces. Working on wood panels are recommended for this class, but techniques can also be performed with watercolors on coldpress paper.  Techniques such as projecting photos will be demonstrated, as well as how to develop graphical designs within photoshop before attempting to transfer designs onto the working surface.

Materials to bring: soft and mechanical pencils, erasers, "Amercian Easel" 20" x 12" birch panel, acrylic paint, brushes, photographs (please bring a very good photo of a portrait to project during class). Package of Craft gold leaf, a pair of flat headed tweezers or sugar cube tongs. Metallic acrylic paint is also highly recommended.

Gold Leaf adhesive, Gold Leafing Cloth, and Gold Leaf Sealant will be provided. Classes held at the 310 Art Gallery, 191 Lyman St, Asheville NC.

Press Release for Dolce Far Niente




Asheville, N.C. (November 28, 2012) ----  Heather Shirin, an Art Nouveau mixed media artist located in Asheville, NC, will be debuting her new series, ‘Dolce Far Niente’ at Working Girl Studios and Gallery in Downtown Asheville between December 2nd and December 31st. Opening reception with Shirin in attendance will be held on Friday, December 7th from 5pm to 8pm at the Working Girls Studios and Gallery - 30 Battery Park Ave Asheville, NC 28801.

     Heather Shirin creates inspired, timeless portraits of women using acrylic, fine art papers, various metal leaf, metallic paint and other mixed media to create beautiful layers and textures for the hair, clothing and design elements within her rich and reflective backgrounds. Heather’s mixed media paintings are large scale, painted directly on rich stained deep birch panels, purposely allowing the wood grain to come thru in the female figure’s skin. Her works have been described as luminous, intimate and emotive.

     “I believe in the adoration of the Art Nouveau style and continue to capture women’s vulnerability and strength using materials that define their beauty and presence,” says Shirin. “My portraits are reminiscent of Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha - as if those two were to collaborate.”

     Heather attained her BFA in oil painting in 1997 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work is represented by the Desert Moon Designs Studios and Gallery in Asheville, NC.  She has also been represented by The Night Gallery, Seven Sisters Gallery, the Kress Emporium and Woolworths Walk Fine Art Gallery.

For more information, visit Shirin’s website at

Art Noveau Portraits with Heather Shirin


With Only One Word 48 x 36 Mixed Media 2012NEW! Art Noveau Portraits with Heather Shirin for Spring 2013!

6 weeks, Friday April 26-May 31 2013 from 1-4pm
Tuition $235 plus a $15 materials fee for specialty materials. 

Learn the special techniques that Heather Shirin has developed to create her Art Noveau portraits of women. Paint your own portrait from a photograph of your choice on a birch panel. Incorporate Gold Leaf and other mixed media. Learn about decorative techniques to use. 

Download Registration Form Here

Classes held at: River’s Edge Studio 
191 Lyman Street, Studio 310, Asheville, NC 828-776-2716

Please email me to have your name added to our mailing list or if you have any questions. You can also reach me at 828.575.7731

Art Nouveau Gold Leaf - What I learned

Art Nouveau with gold leafI have recently been working on a collaboration with Kitty Love of Asheville - on a phoenix and woman art nouveau styled painting. When she showed me how to use gold leaf size "glue" - properly and not to ever touch the craft gold leaf I had.... I learned using tweezers to move the gold leaf around, a razor blade to cut it in to small pieces, and a cloth to rub it down, made all the difference in my art nouveau work.

I needed not to touch the gold leaf, (ever) since it was craft - not real gold leaf - it would tarnish within a few days or weeks of touching my fingers! I learned the hard way, having to redo most every gold leaf area I had done. I am interested in purchasing the 23k gold leaf now for it never tarnishes. Make sure to seal your gold leaf immediately with the gold leaf sealer - a clear coat that will protect the leaf from oxygen and oils. Silver leaf and gold leaf works best on flat hard surfaces. Make sure the 'size' or adhesive is clear before attempting to leaf it. Vacuum up gold leaf particles afterwards otherwise they may attach themself to your cat's fur :)