Stephen Heilakka


Artist's Biography

Stephen has been on an artist’s journey aceor his whole life. It began at the age of 6 when he was taken to the Metropolitian Museum of Art. A published musician at the age of 15, he became an ordained minister and then retrained as a therapist specializing in PTSD. During this time, he traveled to museums around the world.

At the age of 46 he decided to devote himself to the craft. Unable to return to art school at the time he apprenticed to master painter Nico Chochelli from the Republic of Georgia.  As a musician, he knew that in order to gain his artistic voice he would have to immerse himself in the classic methods of drawing.  For five years, he worked with Nico before moving on to study with Irish artist Timothy Hawkesworth and New England artists, Anne and Cynthia Packard.

A successful artist from the beginning, when the economy collapsed in 2008 so did his art career. Between 2008 and 2016, he continued to paint and study, but did not exhibit frequently. His artistic journey was still unfolding. There needed to be an integration between his spiritual life, his life as a therapist and his life as an artist. It was the marriage of these elements that gave birth to The Painting Monk.

In January 2017 he had his first show in 7 years. Called, Led By The Spirit, it was the debut of The Painting Monk as an artist dedicated to being a conduit for the healing of the human spirit.

His studio is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.  He has a passion for teaching art and assisting people in building their own collections. 

Artist's Statement

About his own work Stephen writes, “I am a process painter." Art is a shamanic journey. I call my works painted prayers.  My studio is my monks cell where I become the conduit for the various media: watercolor, pen and ink, oil, charcoal, and mixed media. Art is now my church. Focusing on a blank paper a prayer emerges, followed by an image.  I follow the prayer and then paint it. My work is sometimes messy, sometime disturbing, sometimes beautiful. Without fail it is an expressing of the human soul. It is the viewer who completes the painting and finds an expression of his or her soul.

Selected Exhibitions

Doylestown Presybeterian Chruch, Doylestown, PA

Orazio J. Salati Studio and Gallery, Binghamton, NY

Netherfield Gallery, Frenchtown, NY

Artist’s Studio Show, Hilltown, PA

Harperspace Gallery, Wellfleet, MA

Orazio J. Salati Studio and Gallery, Binghamton, NY

Orazio J. Salati Studio and Gallery, Binghamton, NY

Student Show, Chocheli School of Fine Art, Doylestown, PA

Student Show, Chocheli School of Fine Art, Doylestown, PA