Heather has been captivated by art her entire life. As a small child she remembers sketching Ariel (from “The Little Mermaid”) over and over until she got it perfect. As a teenager she was drawn to comic books, in particular to the curving lines of the female forms (still manifesting in much of her artwork today), and her books and notebooks were covered with her own creations.
After graduating from high school in Pennsylvania, she first attended Utah Valley State College where, after only one semester, the art department asked her to teach two of their Basic Drawing classes. During the 3 semesters she attended USVC, she also worked as an illustrator for State Studies Weekly (an educational newspaper used in elementary schools across the country), developed her graphics skills working on the school newspaper, and built an art portfolio strong enough to earn her the best transfer student scholarship available to attend the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Art. And she married Rich McClellan, whom she’d been chasing for 3 years.
Heather and Rich then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Heather immersed herself in an intense art education, majoring in Illustration. At CIA, she was exposed to a broad range of styles, techniques, and ideas, and learned actively from the critiques of her fellow students and professors. During this time, she was also teaching and a working artist herself: she was the first art teacher at an Orthodox Jewish middle school, and she taught after-school courses at a centre for under-privileged youth; she also continued doing illustration and design work, including several projects with Learning Horizons, a children’s educational book company owned by American Greetings.
While a student, Heather also gave birth to her first two children, Rory and Felicity. At this time, the church to which Heather belonged was restoring several important historic sites near Cleveland, and Heather took the opportunity to focus her Senior thesis on this topic—a series of scratch-board renderings titled “Sites of the Saints.” When the family decided to move to Pittsburgh, Heather continued to commute to Cleveland to complete another year of her schooling, babies in tow. After 1.5 years in Pittsburgh, Rich’s job moved the family to Minneapolis. Heather continued to expand her Sites of the Saints series, putting them into production and arranging for sales through various venues.
One year later the family returned to Cleveland. Heather and Rich had a unique opportunity to work together, leading a team of 15 in reissuing Viktor Schreckengost’s iconic Jazz Bowl, using the ceramics studio at CIA. Heather’s experience with scratch-work and enthusiasm for crazy projects suited her perfectly for re-mastering this art form and teaching a team of artists how to do the same. Once the project was over, Heather went back to CIA for another year to finally wrap-up her 5-year degree programme (a BFA in illustration).
Adding two more (Pyper and Rex), the McClellans continued to search out adventure. Over the ensuing years, they lived in such diverse places as the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Viet Nam, and visited dozens more; amid this chaos, Heather’s artistic expression learned to find voice whenever and wherever possible. She carried a sketch book with her in all of her travels, and avidly pursued the learning of new techniques and methods.
She has thrown herself into various artistic projects with characteristic gusto (e.g., a Native American mural at a local Historical Society, a silk screen project to raise funds for a local orphanage, a back-drop painted for an exhibition of over 500 nativities). At the same time, she is passionate about her children, tackles large-scale home improvement projects, and is relentless in her pursuit of cultural beauty.
For a period, Heather turned to oil paints to express her view of the women she has seen around the world (always too impatient to use oils in the past, with small children she has actually found it a huge benefit that she could walk away for hours without it drying). Most recently, while in Viet Nam, Heather became a student of lacquer art techniques and held full shows, both in Hanoi and Cleveland. Once again, the dominant theme was women. Now back in her home in Cleveland, Heather has set up a studio and is continuing her interest in lacquer. A brief documentary on Heather’s work (prepared by Vietnamese TV) can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG4t99CthXc