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Heather Buchanan

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My work tackles ideas of anxiety and depression while disarming the viewer with humour, surrealism, fashion, and general silliness.


The wide eyes of my figures stare out into our complex world and take it in with looks of bewilderment. 

The mostly-femme-presenting figures I paint are noseless for a few reasons. It imbues them with a sense of breathlessness. There is a sense of gasping for air—like the moment of a panic attack when you can’t quite fill your lungs with enough to keep going—while their mouths hang open trying to breathe. But at the same time, the eyes and lips are often overgrown, shifted out of place to compensate for the missing nose, and the effect is downright silly. The lips can look beak-like or fish-like with no nose and philtrum (the divot between your nose and lips) breaking up the forms of the face. These simple details give me the opportunity to play with the tension between panic and humour in each painting, pushing or pulling back the emotional turmoil or the silliness. By bulging out the eyes, or reeling in the scale of the lips, I can control a narrative of horror or humour.


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