Heather Henry never imagined she’d be an artist, let alone designing winter scenes on businesses’ windows in Ocean City.
Her story starts four years ago.
“My son Tim started to use drugs. I had never painted or drawn anything before in my life. I had this weird thought that popped in my head. I didn’t know if I was going insane or if it was God. It was so shocking. I was crying all of the time and I got invited to a paint party.”
Something clicked for her during the paint party.
“It was the first time that my brain stopped. I had a couple of minutes of not crying. I told my husband ‘I’m going to the store to buy art supplies.’”
He looked at her funny.
“If I’d wake up crying, I’d go paint. I painted first and then I learned how to draw. I started painting in January and started teaching right away, which is odd because I’m not a teacher. I could paint and teach within two months.
Heather began teaching painting parties, and then someone suggested painting windows two years ago.
Today, she has four displays on the island- Augie’s, Uncle Bill’s at 21st, Hearth and Sole, and Avalon Flooring. She’s also done some windows in Avalon. She was the most excited about doing Uncle Bill’s.
“Uncle Bill’s is our family breakfast place,” she explained.
The window art takes less than a day to complete.
“Avalon Flooring took me almost a whole day. Augie’s took me maybe five hours or so. Same thing with Uncle Bill’s, maybe three to four hours.” Heather said.
Her paintings are designed spontaneously.
“I don’t plan anything until I get there. It depends on the weather. I let all the different things determine when I get there unless the customer asks for something specific.”
“The first Chick-fil-A I ever did was in Egg Harbor Township. The owner knew that I was an artist and she asked if I wanted to try it. I start winter windows at the end of October. I’m still doing winter windows,” said Heather.
Her windows will stay up for however long the restaurants choose to keep them up.
Heather can do all seasons of window art but is also available for murals and commissions.
“I would love to do ocean and beach murals. I just did a city skyline of Philadelphia. I’m primarily a floral and nature artist.”
Heather has brought together two passions in her life.
“I had this thought pop in my head that my life’s work or ministry was going to be with drug addicts. I thought I was going crazy. I was crying all the time. I’m thinking weird things. About a year later, I got the call from this man from someone who said that they got my name from someone who was in a paint class and heard I was compassionate. He asked if I wanted to work in a rehabilitation center,” Heather said.
Tim is currently eight months clean.
She’s come a long way in the last four years—now working at Victory Bay Recovery Center, Laurel Springs and at America’s Keswick, Whiting.
“I had never thought about it being a job. I work in two drug rehabs. It’s my life. I tell them that I love them right where they are and that I’m a mom of a drug addict. I tell them that it’s a happy place and tell them that we’re going to learn how to paint to cope,” said Heather. “Rehabs have taught me so much. I’m there to teach them but they’ve taught me understanding and compassion. For me to get to have a part in their recovery is such an honor.”
You can contact Heather through her website.
Featured image courtesy of Heather Henry