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Arts / Galleries

Fort Worth Artist Opens Up on Historic Escapes, the Power of Pretty Pajamas and Her Secret Skill

Preferential Treatment With Heather Essian

BY // 08.27.19

Artist Heather Essian shares her Victorian-era home in Fort Worth’s historic Fairmount District with her husband and their three young daughters — but the upstairs sun-porch, designated as her art studio, is a space all her own.

“It’s just a sweet little space that’s filled with light where I can paint and make a big mess and close the door behind me,” Essian says.

After closing her photography studio on Magnolia Avenue seven years ago to focus more time on her family, she began exploring abstract painting and found the endless possibilities of putting paint to a blank canvas fulfilled her creatively in a completely different way than being behind the camera had.

“And I love that I get to do it by myself,” she laughs. “I’m an introvert, so when I get to close myself in my studio and turn on music and just paint, it’s a lot of fun for me. Especially as a mom, I really enjoy that time to be all alone.”

Even so, Essian admits to occasionally letting her girls be a part of her artistic process. “I like to collaborate with them— I’ll pick the colors and let them paint the under-painting, and then I will finish with the final marks and strokes,” she says.

Recently when her daughter Hollis was distressed by the news of families being separated at the border, she and Essian painted a piece together. When it was sold, they donated the proceeds to a local nonprofit to support refugees.

While Essian is passionate about interior design and enjoys creating artwork that complements her clients’ homes, each of her paintings holds a special meaning.

“I love to encourage my clients to choose a painting that represents something for them,” she says.

Often her clients will choose a meaningful Bible verse or quote, which she will write on the canvas before she even begins painting. “I’ll document the whole process with a video so they can watch me writing those special words,” she says.

Essian’s work is showcased in galleries and showrooms including Laura Lee Clark, Purveyor Home, and The Collective in Dallas, KL Milam Interior Design in Fort Worth, Jenner McGinn Studio in Atlanta and will soon be in a gallery in Laguna Beach, California.

PaperCity gave Essian the Preferential Treatment questionnaire:

Where are you right at this moment?

Sitting on our front porch in my comfy hammock swing while my little ones ride their scooters up and down our sidewalk. We are enjoying being outside before it hits 104 today!

The zip code you call home.

76110, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Fort Worth. We’re about a mile from Downtown.

Style of residence.

A white Victorian home that was built in 1905 that we completely gutted and remodeled two years ago. It was the epitome of a “fixer upper.”

What you wear to bed.

The softest PJs possible. I try for my husband’s sake not to wear ugly PJs to bed, so comfort and cuteness are key!

Early or late riser.

Early riser. I know that if anything important needs to get done I have to do it first thing in the morning. I hit a slow and steady decline throughout the day and am pretty much worthless by 9:30 at night.

Coffee or tea.

COFFEE. I love it. I get excited about getting to wake up and drink it the next morning.

Morning beauty/grooming ritual.

I have three little girls so I just try my best to represent myself to the world at a 50 percent pulled-together state. So I wash my face every morning, apply my moisturizer, and apply a three to five minute makeup routine which includes concealer, eyeliner in my water line, blush, and mascara. I save my 100 percent beauty ritual for date nights with my husband.

Evening beauty/grooming ritual.

Warm bath in our clawfoot tub after the girls go to bed, and always essential oils in the diffuser in our room. Lavender, Ylang Ylang, and Bergamot is my favorite blend to diffuse at night.

Go-to daytime ensemble.

Summer dresses that are comfortable and cute, or my favorite Rag & Bone cutoff shorts with a Madewell top.

Ideal evening look.

Jeans with heels and a feminine top, or a cute skirt. And always a fun pair of earrings!

One thing you always keep in mind when getting dressed.

My goal is to accomplish comfort and style at the same time. Whether I’m dressed casually or dressy I want to be sure I can wear any outfit for several hours without dying to take it off. In fact, if I come down our stairs on a Saturday afternoon in a cute ruffled skirt and a tank top our daughter Harper will ask why I’m dressed so fancy. I always tell her I’m not fancy, I’m comfortable!

Your happy place destination.

Seacrest Beach with my sweet family.

The hotel you call your home away from home.

The Villages at South Walton in Seacrest, FL.

Last person you cocktail’ed with and what was your poison.

My friend, Jenny, last night for a girls’ happy hour! Always a lemon drop martini with Tito’s.

Dream concert.

Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake in the same night.

Store where you wish you had an unlimited charge account.

Nordstrom! Is there anything you can’t find there?

Items currently on your coffee table.

Antique bread bowl, Bibles, journal, “Disciple Her” book, and a tuberose candle.

Last movie you saw.

Cinderella with my girls.

Who would play you in the movie of your life? (Living or dead actor is fine)

 Julia Roberts!

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing.

Interior design for sure. I love how creative one can be with textiles and furniture. I’m quite fond of sculptural furniture of the Mid-Century era.

Secret skill.

Probably sewing. I sewed my first apron in middle school in home economics and would sew clothes for my dolls growing up. Ha! But sewing isn’t my favorite way to be creative due to it being so tedious. I like instant gratification in my creative endeavors.

Guilty pleasure.

Reality TV. I’m guilty of watching the recent Bachelorette and season of Southern Charm. I like to call my reality TV show watching a “social study.” People are so interesting to me! I love that watching reality TV requires zero brain power, but with that said I can only handle so much and actually don’t watch much TV at all these days.

See more of Heather Essian’s work at heatheressian.com.

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