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Judy Heiser

Judy believes that Life in Balance is important in creative expression. She has spent her life in the arts as a professional dancer, choreographer, director and producer, and applies her talents and varied experiences to support performing and visual arts within the community.



From Dancer to Visual Artist

Judy Heiser trained and performed professionally in dance and theatre before committing to painting nearly twenty years ago. She studied fine arts at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the Alexandria Art league. She co-founded Les Artists Locale, Plein Air Painters of Alexandria. Her works have won several awards and can be seen on exhibit in DC, Maryland and recently at the National Institute of Health, and the Art Leagues Target Gallery among others. Heiser’s paintings are sold across the country and have been gifted in support of various charities. Ballerinas was painted to promote ArtSpire VA’s efforts to encourage and inspire visual and performing arts in the community.

She often provides works of art in support of these programs (among others).

ArtSpire VA, Alexandria INOVA Hospital, Target Gallery, Friends of Orphans, Fairfax County Public Schools, To Write Love On Her Arms, Art for Darfur, Parkinson’s Research, Doctors Without Borders, Cancer Prevention and Research.




Teaching Recreational Art Therapy at Mount Vernon Hospital, Plein Air, Still Life and Large Scale Abstract workshops, fundraisers.

By Donna Cedar-Southworth
“For me, it’s like looking at a production and watching the light and the color. A blank stage—and then—things are happening,” says abstract expressionist artist Judy Heiser of her piece “In Motion.” I love this piece,” she adds. “It just takes off. There’s a lot of movement, a lot of texture...These scratches and the movement in it—take me on a journey through space and time. As I’m painting, I tell these stories about what I’m feeling and kind of choreographing to make something happen...it has to have balance and rhythm, but it has to move. It has to move from within the soul, otherwise it’s stagnant. It has to be soulful, or it doesn’t touch you.”
“Movement” is a word that comes up often when Judy is describing her paintings. In fact, when talking about most of her pieces she uses words like “movement, choreograph, take off, line, shape, lighting, space, and stage.” If this sounds like the vocabulary of a dancer, it’s no coincidence. Dancing and choreographing, like painting, are inextricable to Judy’s essence. She started dancing when she was in fifth grade and spent 25 years of her life training and performing as a professional dancer. “I am and I always will be a dancer.” When one is a dancer one never stops being “a dancer.” But at some point, they retire their formal dance career; after she did, she committed herself to painting.
And when she “committed” to painting she applied herself in the way in which a professional dancer would. She studied, she learned, she practiced, and she rehearsed. Over and over and over again. “It takes all that work and rehearsal and practice to reach a point where it does start to work. It’s like Misty Copeland, you see her dancing—floating across stage—making it look so easy, but it’s taken her years of hard work to get to that point.” As Judy applied herself to dance for 25 years, she’s used the same rigor and discipline in her painting for 20 years now.
Judy grew up in California at Newport Beach. Her brothers were surfers, but she passionately wanted to dance. She babysat to save up money to pay for dance classes and never stopped dancing. She danced through college and went onto become a professional dancer. “When I was 30, I was performing in Japan and people there couldn’t believe I hadn’t married or had children. “But I was living my dream. I was in my element.” Eventually, she retired her dance career, moved to the Washington metropolitan area, married, and had children. And through painting and teaching painting she still feels blessed to be living her dream through a different form of artistic expression.
Painting has presented its own unique challenges to Judy. “Visual art is different because you start with a two-dimensional piece most often but it needs three dimensions [perspective] to it. ...When you listen to music, it goes through the air and then it’s gone. You don’t really see music but you hear it and feel it. In dancing you’ve got forms and then it’s gone.” But she says when painting, one creates a painting with a different purpose, citing the old masters who painted hundreds of years ago, but their works are still tangible pieces today with incredible value.
“Equestrian Dance” is based loosely on a photograph she had seen of the 2016 Preakness which was taken right up on the racetrack. “I wanted it very abstract. It’s fun because it’s foggy and muddy and distant so I wanted it loose. I love the movement of the horses, their relationships, the choreography—they’re dancing and running forward. ...I love the painting, it speaks to me. You get the whole sense of place and something’s happening.”
She studied art at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and the Alexandria Art League and works mainly in oil and mixed media. She teaches art therapy weekly at Mount Vernon Hospital and lives in Alexandria.
“My time spent painting is my happy place. ...that uninterrupted creativity, the brush, the canvas, the creating and when things start to work and this canvas is turned into something it’s exhilarating.” And like most painters, she says of all the paintings she creates, there’s only a percentage—20 percent—that really work. “I have to allow myself to go on a journey with those—the ones that work are because I let them go and take me someplace.” And some of the paintings that she keeps but might revisit she says are “fun for the moment. When as a dancer, we choreograph our shows, we rehearse and rehearse and then you perform it and it’s wonderful and then you close the show down. That’s kind of how I do some of my works.” www.judyheiserart.com.
— Elan Magazine Published April 2018