‘Capturing the beauty’

In the bright color and frenzied activity, “The Magic of May” offers a snapshot into the excitement surrounding the Indianapolis 500.

The painting, done by Center Grove area resident Heather Overton, shows jets streak across the endless blue sky. Spectators collectively lean forward in the grandstands, waiting for the blur of race cars to pass by.

“I wanted to capture the festive feel. I really like to paint with bright colors, and I thought that went well with the Speedway, since it’s so colorful,” Overton said.

Now, her work will help showcase the state of Indiana through an artistic eye. Overton is one of nearly 30 women artists chosen to represent the state with their paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography.

Named one of this year’s Hoosier Women Artists, her painting “The Magic of May” will hang in the Indiana Statehouse for the next year.

The Hoosier Women Artists competition is an initiative of the lieutenant governor’s office. The program was founded by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman as an opportunity to highlight the artistic talent among Indiana women, said Caitlin Larson, spokeswoman for the Indiana State Treasurer’s Office.

That program carried on when Sue Ellspermann took office in 2012. When Ellspermann resigned earlier this year, her replacement, Eric Holcomb, agreed to share the competition with state treasurer Kelly Mitchell.

“(Ellspermann) felt it was really critical that a female remain at the helm of highlighting the importance of women artists in the state,” Larson said. “So we partnered with Lt. Gov. Holcomb’s office this year.”

Overton had been following the Hoosier Women Artists competition for a year before entering her own work. She came across it in her constant search for art contests to enter.

Though it was too late to enter in the 2015 version, she remembered it when entries were being accepted this year. “The Month of May” seemed like an ideal piece for a contest representative of life in Indiana.

At the end of March, it was announced that she won.

“It’s a big honor, to be chosen among so many good women artists is a thrill,” Overton said. “It’s always fun to get good feedback on your work, since as an artist, you’re just doing it on your own. You don’t know if it’s good or not, but when you put it out there, you know if it’s something people like.”

Overton’s interest in art extends back to her childhood, and took a more serious turn as a member of 4-H, when she would enter drawings and paintings in the county fair.

By the time she was in high school, she knew what she wanted to do as a career.

“I like capturing the beauty that’s around,” she said. “I’m not a person who tries to look at something nasty and turn it into art. I like to capture things that are beautiful. It brings a lot of joy to people.”

Overton now runs a custom art and handmade gift business with her sisters Amber and Alyssa, which they opened in 2006. Joyful Creations sells items such as crochet earrings, decorative pillows and leather goods online, as well as being featured in local store such as Simplify in Franklin.

She is a self-taught artist, working trial-and-error to develop her style. Starting in graphite drawing before transitioning into painting, her images tend to be more realistic and detailed than abstract.

Friends who are photographers have contributed landscape scenes of far-off places, which she then uses as a template to paint.

Most of all, she has an affinity to painting portraits.

“Anything that’s a human scene, like sports scenes and really anything with people,” she said. “It’s more interesting than still-life, since there’s more of a story to it.”

Overton’s painting and the art of the other 28 winners will stay in the offices of Mitchell and Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb for the next year. Every visitor taking the statehouse tour will get a chance to see it.

Overton is already looking for new competitions to enter this year, including the state fair.

“It’s always fun to enter and see what comes out of it,” she said. “If nothing else, when you enter a competition, they always give you extra motivation to get some work done.”

The Overton File

Heather Overton

Age: 28

Home: Center Grove area

Occupation: Co-owner of Joyful Creations, a custom fine art and handmade gift company

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.