Katie Heffelfinger

Katie Heffelfinger’s paintings are inspired by the work of Aboriginal predecessors such as Dorothy Napangardi and other Napangardi sisters. Her work strives to echo their ability to create a language and beauty from a seemingly vacant outback. Katie is interested in the exploration of the psychology of pattern within her work. Her combination of handmade metallic water colors overlain a soothing pattern of dots, mesmerizes viewers who are willing to enter the ethereal world she has created. Katie’s choice of materials enhances this vision; she uses handmade paper composed of various elements such as funori, Japanese seaweed and gum arabic.

The beauty of Katie’s pieces is that each series is inspired by a new environment. The palette which she created for Telluride was inspired by the rugged mountains and the “white on white” that is seen throughout the winter which she has so elegantly captured in her “Irresistibles” series.

Katie’s career as an artist began as a child as a result of having artist parents. She has embodied the same desire to nurture emerging artists through the residency program she created at the “Mansion” in Allentown, PA. It is in this 6,000 square feet of space that Katie produces her works. Each piece contains 2-10 different color layerings for which she allows 3-4 days between each color cycle.

Ultimately, Katie’s process for each piece mimics what inspired her in the first place— the psychology of pattern and the desire to create an abstract space to enter out of a three dimensional world.

Katie’s Handmade Watercolor Paint


powdered pigment
gum arabic (powder or crystals)
glycerin (USP solution)
white wheat starch
corn syrup
oil of clove
ox gall (or commercial dispersant)


2 saucepans
glass sheet or stone kitchen countertop
putty knife or palette knife
measuring spoons
water atomizer
paper face mask or respirator mask
latex gloves