My journey to the Sublime!

January 23, 2022 4 Comments

My journey to the Sublime!


By Al Heilman, January 2022

Getting up to experience the sunrise is a daily ritual. Watching the sun inch its way, ever so gently, over the lake’s horizon ignites my inner soul. My senses all start to open. As the colors and sounds of the morning flood my cerebral cortex, I feel a calm in my body and deep gratitude. Perhaps its my age or and having gone through many of life’s challenges including prostate cancer.

All this  makes this daily ritual so integral and satisfying.  Early mornings have been Ingrained in my life since becoming a surgeon. Always make rounds  before cases start so those going home could leave early in the day. It is also a time of quietness and of new beginnings that I cherish.

When I was a child I was always watching and observing life around me.

I can remember pulling up a small chair near my grandparent’s new home construction in Littleton, Colorado. I was content to observe the moving of dirt by my grandfather on his red tractor. I was about 5 years old, but I still remember the day and the feelings of amazement and wonder as the blade cut thru the dirt and it was moved with skill, until it was level.

Then as a highschooler I was introduced to photography. Little did I know how integral it would become in my life and art. I loved how evocative an image could be. I remember finding a book by Ansel Adams. The emotional feelings of these images was profound.

I loved the play of light and shadow and the compositions. They made me dream of nature. I also was lucky to see many of wonders of architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations by living close to Chicago. My roommate in college was an architect and one summer we spent traveling to the city together to see his homes. At the time, were both working on an apartment house my parents were building

my studio during the snow and freeze of 2021


The images of nature have always been a powerful driver of my soul. So it is of little surprise that when I found this property on Lake Conroe many moons ago I was smitten. When I first found the property I had no idea how to get to it by car. There was a for sale sign, on one lot we saw while boating. A few days later we had purchased it. The spot became known to my kids and family as the “lake”. We would celebrate birthdays and weekends here for a few years. Next the owner of the lot next to mne was going through a divorce and needed to sell. A week later I had acquired a “lake” homestead with 2 lots on the lake. A couple of years later I began designing building phase 1 of many at the lake house.

Patrick Palmer painting over river rock fireplace 



I was born in Denver, Colorado and I was inspired to build a mountain cabin on the lake.I had tried to find a local architect but struck out, so I bought a computer drawing program, Visio, and designed the home myself. We had seen a mountain home with a great fireplace and bowed windows so these features became part of the design.  So with the intent of having someone just build the exterior I was looking forward to using my carpentry skills to finish off the inside. I did a few rooms and enjoyed working with my dad hanging the doors. But then the challenges of practicing spine surgery kicked in and I had a professional carpenter finish things up.

fluid acrylic light box 

As I remember our first night at the lake was around the Fourth of July 1995. What esued has been nothing short of magical. Many different stages and the building of my studio addition in 2013 when we moved here as our primary residence. So many laughs and celebrations were the norm for the first few years. Then the lake house morphed into the magic it is today. When I retired after having a difficult spine surgery Liz Encouraged me to follow my inner voice and pursue my creativity thru art.

Fused glass pendant with  blue Tourmaline and 18k gold accents


London blue cushion cut  topaz set in  argentium silver and with 18 k gold accents 

 Steel and 22 k gold anticlastic cuff.

I had begun taking night courses at Glassell school of Art in Houston to keep my mind off the pain I was having after my back surgery. Next came my life as an artist


Elizabeth my angel and muse 

My muse, angel and life partner suggested it was time to learn to follow my passion. I finished my studies at the the Glassell School of art and graduated with a degree in enameling and jewelry. I had grown so much and was looking at life thru the eyes of an artist.


Drop ring glass vessel

Drop ring vessel

Steel with 18k fused gold earrings, and pendants

forged bass ring with black and white diamonds 

My dad had once tought an introductory jewelry making and enameling course at night. This was when I was a small child andit helped to help keep me in shoes as I was growing fast. It funny how life circles around.

Hand formed copper vessel with fine silver

Once I got my mind out of the way and let the creative side happen I have never found such happiness and peace. In late 2020 we repainted the kitchen and added tile to  the main living area floors. I updated the stairs and designed and co-built  a stainless steel stair railing. This was with a master stainless steel tig welder, Will Bonner, who is now a great friend. We spent hours fabricating in my shop but also would would spend hours discussing life and art. Five days of bliss creating, talking, magical.

These are somevdigital glimpses of our life and my some of my art.  The most important aspect of life is family. I have my dad who at 96 gives me sage advice. Add to that my 2 daughters and their husbands and 4 grandkids.  

Having the lake, family and my art is a gift.  They intimately relate to each other. Such is the abbreviated story of my journey to the sublime. When I get up in the morning I never know what God has in store for me, my wife and our 2 goldendoodles. But, I made the choice a long time ago to enjoy life, every minute of every day.  If I don’t enjoy I have no one to blame but myself 

 Family at Christmas 2021

Even and Hadley



the grandkids 

The journey to the sublime is visceral and integral to my body and soul. I feel very lucky and grateful. I hope you can spend some time with the gift of nature and it’s magical properties.

Elizabeth my muse

Never forget to laugh 

Harry and Bruno our goldendoodles 

Thanks for your fabulous and ongoing support and encouragement. 


Images and art copyrighted al Heilman art 2022

4 Responses

Ellen Barron O'Reilly
Ellen Barron O'Reilly

August 28, 2023

Al, reading this blog I could relate to nearly everything. I am from Michigan and my parents had a large lake house where our the family would gather. When we moved to Texas, we w eventually found a lake house on Lake Conroe that was as close as we could get to the Frank Lloyd Wright style that we loved. It became a fun gathering spot for our family, same as you described! We used to go to Cranbrook with the kids and learned of his Architecture. We also lived in Chicago for a while. My mother lived taking pictures and I inherited that starting out as a child with a Brownie camera. At the lake, we lived next door to Kathleen Rowland and she encouraged me to pursue photography seriously. I went to the Glasses school also, but for BW film photography. Then on to the Art Institute in Houston. I am a member of the CAL where you were president for a while. Just so much in common. Unfortunately, we had to sell the lake house a few years ago, but we finally found our FLW house in Panorama. I miss the serenity and views we hadn’t the lake. Glad you are sharing them!

Ann McKennis
Ann McKennis

January 25, 2022

What an absolutely wonderful blog. I enjoyed every minute of it! What a beautiful life. I’m an avid journalist, but never thought to do any writing on line.
Thank you for sharing and I do plan to buy a piece of your jewelry before I leave this world. You are an amazing artist!

Pam Miller
Pam Miller

January 25, 2022

Dear Al,
After reading this, it made feel “so at peace”! Your writing is a blessing and thank you for taking the time to do it.
You are awesome and wish you all the happiness this world holds for you and your family!


January 25, 2022

Enjoyed reading with my coffee this morning. I’m so grateful you two shared this magical space with me! ❤

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