Color That Glitters

To look at artist Heidi Marie Balmaceda’s paintings, you’d never guess she once avoided working with color. “I was actually terrified of working with color,” she says. “I thought it was scary and complicated. Then about a year and a half ago, I got a 4-foot by 4-foot canvas and painted it metallic gold. I went to a crafts store and found some gold leaf and began to play with it.”

Balmaceda, 34, was born in Portland. Her family is from Chile, and she spent her early years in Chile and Colombia before returning to Oregon. “As a child, I was always drawing, but when I went to college, it never occurred to me that I could do the thing I love as a job. Still, I took an art class every term.” After graduating with a degree in English from Portland State University, she worked as an emergency medical technician before becoming a Multnomah Country sheriff’s deputy.


Sunset Birches (pictured) is a 36-inch by 36-inch painting that combines gold leaf and heated, variegated gold leaf on a metallic acrylic paint background. “I love working with the metal leaf because of the way it changes with the light,” says Balmaceda. “The gold leaf can be very finicky. You have to work with what’s coming off the canvas. Sometimes my sketches come off perfectly, but usually I keep working on it and layering it until I’m happy.”

While working as a sheriff’s deputy may seem far removed from working as an artist, Balmaceda has had those worlds collide. “I always invite my co-workers to my shows,” she says. “A judge liked a painting he saw and said he had an empty wall; now it’s part of his courtroom.” Sunset Birches is $485.

Contact artist Heidi Marie Balmaceda via her website at Her show opens March 6 for a multi-week run at the Onda Gallery (22O S.W. A Ave., Suite 104, 503-496-3922) in Lake Oswego, Ore.