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  • Writer's pictureUp North Gift Co.

Eli's Love for Nature; Career Turned Passion!

Eli's true love for nature turned a career into a true passion & we LOVE the results!

Eli's Amazing Artwork on Wood
Eli's Amazing Artwork on Wood

"I’m an Indianapolis native now living in a small town in Michigan at the edge of the Manistee National Forest.

My experiences with art started early…both parents were artists. Through them I saw the beauty of the Natural world and learned to communicate as much with drawing as with words.

Dad painted, so we’d drive around the countryside photographing barns and landscapes for reference. My father also illustrated children’s books. Drawing was an activity we shared. I would sit beside him with a sketchbook. One of us would write a letter of the alphabet on a page, the other would make it into a picture. I was around 5 or 6 then.

My mom studied fashion design in 1950’s Chicago, and she filled my childhood with imagination, clever costumes (and many a matched ensemble!) However, she remained a “Michigan girl” who made sure we vacationed Up North. She gave me the outdoor spirit. We planted dozens of gardens of flowers and vegetables over the years; I would draw them too.

I have a bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture. This career seemed a logical choice at 17. Artistic, creative, outdoors, lots of plants. They lost me at drainage ditches and substructure and engineering!

I really just wanted to be “ an artist” and I still loved to draw and photograph; I took all of the drawing and photography classes I could to fill the requirements.

I have a bachelor’s in Fine Art. Going to art school was a dream after years of working “around” art.

(ie: picture framer, sign artist). I really just wanted to draw and take photographs but I was not prepared to embrace the digital age. Illustration was going to the computer and I refused to jump in; Using film became passe too. Sculpture was still a hands-on, anything-you-can-think-we-can-try-art form. I majored in Sculpture. Again, I took all of the drawing and painting classes I could fit into the requirements!

Eli's Debut in the Lake County Star
Eli's Debut in the Lake County Star

Today, I spend my time drawing and taking photographs. No more circuitous paths around my true passions.

Like my dad, I use photography to capture images of buildings and landscapes. I am drawn to the dilapidated buildings, particularly to windows and doors where their original function of “opening” or “welcoming” is lost in its age and by the abandonment of the place. Windows are blank & deceptive,

doors are locked…secrets kept. A bit like my personality, not everything is revealed.

Like my mom, I love Nature--flowers to frogs, bees to broccoli. I plant them or encourage their presence and I draw and draw and photograph it all. I have moved from graphite to colored pencil, which I mix with marker or gouache occasionally. I strove for picture-like reality for many years; I don’t seem to have the concentration for that now; I am enjoying a looser style (and so are my hands).

I have written and illustrated my first children’s book, “Lucy the Ladybug: Summer in Farmer’s Garden”.

It’s about a tiny creature who is a small, but integral part of the greater community in which she lives. It’s also about fun and friendship and finding happiness. A bit like me, Lucy discovers her unique value as the story moves forward!

I have participated in dozens of art shows and competitions such as Artprize in Grand Rapids, MI and the Muskegon Museum of Art Regional Exhibition as well as their Postcard Salon.

My paintings and sculpture can be found at Artworks in Big Rapids, MI, while the Up North Gift Company in Bitely, MI carries the widest selection of my photographs and drawings."

-Eli Heckler

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