perfume

perfume and my artistic practice by kelly heaton

A collage of recent works in perfumery, including my line, Field to Fragrance®, and my company insignia, The Virginia Perfume Company

A collage of recent works in perfumery, including my line, Field to Fragrance®, and my company insignia, The Virginia Perfume Company

I have decided to add perfumery to my artistic portfolio. For years, I searched for scents that I loved and was almost always dissatisfied. Real perfume is rare in today's marketplace; and when you find it, the costs are exorbitant. I understand the expense to a point: ingredients for perfume are precious and valuable, but the added fees for brand identity are excessive. I discovered that making perfume is similar to my existing practice, wherein I combine traditional media, engineering, and intuition. Perfumery promises transcendent results, but the process of creation is both artistically and scientifically demanding. Fortunately, I have a knack for art and science, so making perfume has been a natural progression for me.

Creating chakric perfumes for "Bee the Flower," 2015

Creating chakric perfumes for "Bee the Flower," 2015

Some of you may remember my initial foray into perfumery from Pollination (2015). I created a series of perfumes corresponding to the chakras of the human body, along with body pollen. Both were combined into a painting kit that is used to adorn yourself with scent and color -to literally become a flower- as would attract a bee (or in our case, another pollinating human being). I plan to revisit the formulas for my chakric perfumes and launch a related line in 2017 under the umbrella of The Virginia Perfume Company. Each chakric perfume is designed to evoke a bodily frequency spectra for the enhancement or healing thereof.

Some of my notebook writings to create a new formula, revealing my process and failures

Some of my notebook writings to create a new formula, revealing my process and failures

Making a new formula is a challenge that I liken to inventing a new recipe, such as for Mrs Fields Cookies. Although I start with a vision, I can't predict the complex interactions that occur in the mixing process. Some surprises are positive while others are lackluster or even disastrous, ruining the entire mix and forcing a time-consuming and expensive restart. Obviously, I develop using small quantities because I never get the formula right on my first try. For some formulas, I spend many months and thousands of dollars of ingredients down the drain.

A typical view of my perfume bench during development

A typical view of my perfume bench during development

When a formula finally comes together, it feels like magic. The ingredients gel into a perfume that evokes memories and emotions. Smell is such a strong and ancient sense. The effort to create a perfume of great beauty is worth every effort. You can experience my results here. Thank you for your interest in my perfumery, as I take great pride in my work; not to mention, by purchasing my perfumes you are supporting my overall artistic practice. For that, I am extremely grateful.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Kelly Heaton

news: solo show announcement by kelly heaton

Detail of "The Beekeeper," 2015. Kinetic sculpture made with steel, cast resin, brass, electronics, wood and paint. Approximate dimensions are 60"(W) x 132" (H). Kelly Heaton

Detail of "The Beekeeper," 2015. Kinetic sculpture made with steel, cast resin, brass, electronics, wood and paint. Approximate dimensions are 60"(W) x 132" (H). Kelly Heaton

I am pleased to announce that my latest body of work, "Pollination," will open on September 12 at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 31 Mercer Street, NYC.  The show addresses many facets of pollination as a fertile exchange, including bees, commerce, human relationships, spirituality and technology.  Works include large-scale sculpture, kinetic sculpture, works on paper and perfume.  A public reception will be hosted at the gallery on September 12 from 6 - 8pm.  The show runs through October 24.

For more information, please sign up for my mailing list or contact Ronald Feldman Fine Arts: (212) 226-3232.

perfume: scent and synesthesia by kelly heaton

For my upcoming show, Pollination, I am working on a series of conceptual perfumes that relate to artworks in non-fragrant media.  Here are some images of my perfumer's bench; and part of a sculpture that artfully invaded my desk for a time.

What intrigues me about fragrance?  Where to begin.  Smell is our most ancient sense, touching our memory to the core.  

Why would a visual artist learn to make perfume?  Scent, color, kinetics, sound, taste, visions, touch: these are all various experiences of waveforms.  Humans only have so many tools to perceive and therefore understand the world; I intend to explore all of them because what I care most about are the waveforms, the jiggling energies beyond our mortal veil of senses.  The more ways in which I can experience a priori signals, the closer I feel to the truth of their nature.

Not to mention, how could any body of work on the topic of pollination avoid fragrance?  I would surely be stung in retribution.

I will also add that perfumery, watercolor painting and cooking all extremely similar in my experience.  I understand why perfumer and author Mandy Aftel puts essential oils in her food:  I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish one sense from another.  The closest relationships are smell, taste and color.  Line and texture map to rough, gritty or other textural scents, but color is my predominant synesthetic experience of fragrance and taste.  And vice versa: color has scent and flavor.  By comparison, my experience of electrical engineering is most closely represented in sound and movement.  Electronics are more like dynamic line drawings of immense complexity.