Sausalito-based artist Heather McFarlin walks around with eyes, ears, and senses open, letting the impressions and imprints of her surroundings wash over and through her, and eventually end up on the expressive playing field of her canvas.

Finding the most interest in the blending of vibrant beauty with imperfection and vulnerability, McFarlin takes viewers into a realm that is a bit off-kilter and out of perspective. Often the surreal juxtaposition of subjects, shapes, or energetic marks are reminiscent of a dreamstate, fairytale, or rearranged reality. Her colorful paintings are akin to storytelling or narration, only each viewer will certainly have a different interpretation. Each piece is rich with symbolism, color, movement, and tonality. The dynamic quality of her work can invoke a new interpretation or sighting after multiple viewings.

Like the Surrealist painters of the Modernist movement–Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Andre Breton — McFarlin engages in a process similar to that of “automatic drawing.” She approaches the canvas with no purpose or plan of what will come about, but allows an emotion, situation, or theme to act as the inspiration; she simply allows what unfolds to happen, giving expression to the subconscious mind, or giving form to the formless. In essence, this de-emphasizes the role of the conscious mind so that a different level of intelligence–subconscious or unconscious–can emerge.

McFarlin works primarily with oil on canvas, often integrating graphite, enamel, or acrylic paint.