Heidi Burkhardt

Heidi Burkhardt was indoctrinated with plein air painting in the summers of her youth at the Doon School of Art. Her teachers there were the generation after the Group of 7. There she inherited the passion for landscape painting that is the legacy of those Canadian Nationalists.

She studied the Fine Arts Program at the University of Toronto (Victoria College) for 4 years. Extra-curricular activities in stage and props and graphic design added as much education as the official art history and studio courses.

After a few years work in commercial art, Heidi signed up for a year at the Faculty of Education (FEUT) and became a teacher. During that year she discovered clay, which led to another thread of her varied interests. It was helpful as a high school teacher to be versed in many media. Heidi has been a Potter/Painter/Printmaker throughout her adult life.

During her 35 teaching years in Scarborough High schools, and since retirement Heidi Burkhardt has been painting in Plein Air on Road Trips around our glorious country’s wilderness. The best aspect of an art teacher in Scarborough before amalgamation was the opportunity offered by teaching at the annual Scarborough Art Camp. At Camp Walden, fortunately, there were like-minded colleagues who became her painting, and travelling companions. These friends became bonded for life and eventually became the group called “ THE PORDS”. Communal exhibitions and lots of painting outings provide mutual motivation and encouragement.

In recent years, Heidi has spent winters in her house in Florida. Tropical vegetation has now been added to her repertoire of favourite subject matter. The amazing things that grow in the Tropical Botanical Gardens have become her obsession. Learning the names of trees and flowers of Florida and painting them has become a substitute for painting snow landscape.

She has established her own style of working using oil sticks on location to get a spontaneous response to the never-ending variety of exciting landforms. Inspired by the drama of textures that meet the roving eye, this linear medium has kinship with the lino- and woodcuts she also feels compelled to make.

Heidi’s grand landscapes hang in the Legislative Buildings of the Government of Ontario, and in many corporate and private collections, both locally and internationally.

She is a reputable member of the Canadian Society of Water Colour Painters, (CSPWC), the Ontario Society of Artists,(OSA) and the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto.

Heidi Burkhardt: Artist’s Statement

"The source of inspiration can come from my surroundings. Driving to me is like watching good cinematography. There is an ever-changing delight for the eye in Nature. My favourite road trip is on Hwy 17, from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. By contrast, I hate driving through Industrial wastelands or another monotonous housing development paving over our good farmland on the outskirts of Toronto. There I wish they would bring back the trees and rolling hills.

Inspiration can come from material. A foggy morning in Newfoundland calls for watercolours and wet paper. A tangle of roots and branches are better interpreted with a linear medium like a linocut.

Working in a variety of media like I do, is useful. I find the characteristics of one medium influences the way of working in other media. The images that appeal to me offer lines, shapes, colour and textures that will be organized according to the principles of design.

So, although I’m in front of a specific site, the making of a picture is a formal abstract process. If it’s done with integrity, the feeling of a place will hopefully be conveyed to the viewer.

Oil sticks, my preferred medium en plein air, allows for a vigorous rendering of a composition of a chosen location. This medium encourages a spontaneous response to the view before you. It blocks any tendency for fussy details. It allows broad stroke laying of colour and because of its characteristic it promotes line and texture. Those are features I particularly favour."


Heidi Burkhardt painting in Newfoundland