Elisabeth Heidinga – Interview

how to start weaving paintings

She’s creating the most captivating art I’ve seen. Her name is Elisabeth Heidinga, and she is a Toronto based artist from France, who was born in Cologne, Germany. She graduated with honours from OCAD University in 2010. And then she married her best friend Sven. They have two little boys: Noé and Joah and she is an incredibly talented artist of woven paintings.

What she does is unique and interesting. And because I love her (and her work) I asked her a few questions. Enjoy:

How did you end up cutting and weaving your paintings?

I was upset and frustrated. I felt I didn’t know who I was as an artist. What my voice and style looked like. I was searching. I knew to be a painter was my calling but I felt I could be better at a thousand other things. I was wrestling it out with God in the studio. It wasn’t pleasant. Every time in the studio I was painting on top of the last painting, adding, changing…I had 9 going at the same time. One day I went in and a fleeting thought passed my mind and I started cutting up a painting to make a little sample. I brought it home and looked at it for weeks. It had something that held everything, every part of me and who I am. I felt satisfaction for the first time. God met me!

What do the paintings look like before they are cut up?

They are generally wild and abstract. I paint to let it all out and express before any thinking happens. I paint fast and in the moment. I love colours and I immediately see relations between which ones should go together. I love clashes. I let colour guide the way. Still, I feel they don’t really represent me so I cut them up. I weave the strips randomly. The pattern is quite spontaneous but the process is slow – if that makes sense at all. I weave just the way I paint, I guess, it’s a different pace and I have to be more focused.

I have never heard of anybody cutting paintings? What’s that all about?

It seems like it would be anxiety-causing, but it’s not. I actually feel disconnected to the original paintings. To be honest, it’s freeing knowing I won’t be judged on how good I am as a painter. I guess it challenges the lines that separate art, design, and craft. Once I am weaving them that all changes and they become part of my home, my family and conversations. 

Painting is largely male dominated and weaving is traditionally more of a female activity. I married the two – made them equal. Now, you can substitute anything opposing really. It is about taking opposing ideas, changing perspective and growing through the process. Ultimately, it results in something beautiful and strong.

What are you going to do with all the money you make when you get super famous? 🙂

Haha! I guess enjoy life with family and friends. Making more art. My husband will want to make music…and then give back. You can’t keep what you don’t give away!

Could you be where you are at with your art without your education?

No. I went to OCAD University in Toronto. I went for painting, switched into Material Art and Design in my second year, and then took a summer of painting courses on top of my regular classes. In my third year I took sculpting classes. In my fourth year I ended up doing an independent study (on top of my thesis) in sculpting, mould making and rapid prototyping technology. I graduated with more credits than I needed but I came to explore and conquer. I had incredible support from my profs. I felt satisfaction for the first time I laid my eyes upon my first woven painting, everything came full circle. They consist of painting, material art and design, sculpture and technology – all at once. They are me, my education, my culture and heritage, my gender….it works.

What does living your dream look like in your head?

I know I am supposed to paint, be an artist and mother. I love both aspects. My husband is an artist too, and so I see our kids growing up in our lifestyle and become part of it. I see us even working together all on different projects. I would love to do collaborations with high-end fashion houses, architects, etc.. I love to see artists spill out of art galleries and become part of culture and visible to the public. 

What is your blog all about?

My life – family and art. I purposely don’t dedicate it to just one or the other. The same goes for my Instagram account. It might not look as “consumable and pristine”, or even fit into what mothering or the life of an artist stereotypically looks like, and that’s ok. It’s what life is like right now. I am working on getting a more “unifying” look I guess. It’s far from perfect!

Elisabeth HeidingaYou are French, Spanish, Portuguese and German… and married Canadian… tell me, what’s the best/worse part about being a European living in Toronto?

For me it’s the visual – architecture. It’s just everywhere and so historical. You are part of that history. It’s so inspiring. There is nothing like this here. I just can’t get used to it…. And my non-gmo food! I’ll bite my tongue for political comments but I just don’t get it. Don’t worry, I have a big heart for North America. You can be anybody. It’s still the land of opportunity – kind of like the artists in modern times that I mentioned above. My dream is to live in both.


Learn more about her incredible work (and buy a beautiful woven painting) @ elisabeth-heidinga.com

Then follow her on Instagram @elisabethheidinga


Carlos is a pastor, a provocative preacher and the author of "Designed for Inheritance". He also serves as director of Catch the Fire Latin America and Chief Editor at HappySonship.com. Together with his wife Catherine, they have two gorgeous boys and are awaiting a baby girl through adoption.