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Meet Al Heilman of Al Heilman Art in Willis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Al Heilman.

Al, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am Artist and  a retired Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and worked for many years in the Texas Medical Center. I was a  partner at Fondren Orthopedic group and an original developer of Texas Orthopedic Hospital. Years working in operating rooms rebuilding/and repairing spines gave me deft hand skills– that I still use today…and attention to detail and creative solutions.  

After back surgery, I started  taking classes at the Glassell School of Art while still working. Eventually, due to medical issues I retired, and did an Integrative medicine fellowship with Andrew Weil and The University of Arizona Medical School …Fast forward ten years, and I earned a certificate from Glassell and graduated in 2018.

For me, becoming an artist required many steps: The first was learning to think and see like an artist; The next was learning to trust my ideas and take risks; And the last was learning the additional technical skills required to actualize my ideas.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I decided to become a full-time artist, it was a journey that required a great deal of education, reflection, and redefinition of who I was, both professionally and personally.

Being a practicing spine surgeon then having 2 back operations myself at 6 foot 8, was the ultimate paradox.  I had seen first hand the problems that chronic pain and severe back issues carry. So, I made a decision not to succumb, and instead to engage my mind in art. I always loved art but had never had the time, and permission to open up and follow my artistic passion full time. With my retirement, now, was the time to learn to fly… I have a creative mind, and making the transition from surgery to a full time  studio practice has engaged all my energy.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Al Heilman Art – what should we know?
My studio and home  are on Lake Conroe. This is the creative cauldron where my work evolves. My work reflects the joy I have living in nature, and being inspired with the colors and images that are around me every day. Sunrises and sunsets truly inspire me to evoke an emotional response–from the intersection of light, shadow, and color reflecting nature’s beauty… and it’s usually seen as a theme somewhere in my work. My art has my emotional presence and a style that reflects the deep joy I have living in nature.

I work with multiple mediums to create.  My current work is with glass. I make hand formed murrini that I turn into fused glass vases and wall panels. I have a blog on my website that discusses many of my artistic processes and how to videos. Here is the link:

I also work as a metalsmith, to develop metal forms that I apply vitreous enamel and fine silver to, and then fire them in a kiln.  This leads to wall art and 3 d sculptural forms, and lastly, I have a product and art photography business.

What sets me apart from other artists is… probably, my flexibility and fearlessness to try new things….and fail…and create solutions….which usually leads me to some interesting discoveries. Since I work with metal, and wood, and tools –I can usually create new ways to solve whatever challenges I might encounter, and enhance, whatever project I’m working on with a new approach.

My work is available at Mixed Emotions Fine Art in Houston,Texas and on my web site.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
First, would be my wife/muse, Elizabeth, and  then, my family and friends . They are all the threads that have fueled my art.  Elizabeth, has been such a supportive voice, and a driver for me to follow my passion, and never look back.

My parents were both teachers, so I learned early on the value of study and education.  My dad, (who taught industrial arts, and jewelry making at night), was a great stimulus to my early learning, especially, learning to think 3 dimensionally, and to work with my hands. As a teenager, I explored  woodworking, and photography. I built a Soap box Derby car with my Dad’s advice, and won the DeKalb, Illinois, City Championship in 1967 I also learned a lot from my Mother, who has always been a very creative woman with many talents.

I have such repect for the teachers/friends I have met during my time at The Glassell school of Art.  A special thanks to Jan Harrell who taught me enameling and is a great friend/mentor. There were many classes with long commutes to Houston, and several trips across the country to take courses, But, they all were worth it.

The ability to follow this artistic road is something I am very lucky to be able to do, and something I will always be grateful for.   Thank you for this time together.


Contact Info:

  • Address: 15160 Paradise View Drive
    Willis, Texas 77318
  • Website:
  • Phone: 713-828-1307
  • Email:

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Ghetta Hirsch

    September 1, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    Al’s work is innovative and rich in colors and form. What a fine artist! Thank you for telling us more about Al Hellman and his work. As an artist myself I see the delicate balance of metal detailing against the background of the colorful glass as a metaphor of man interacting with nature. Love it!

  2. Robert L Straight

    September 3, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Al nice story need to get together after my MDA gig.

  3. Randy Schleisman

    September 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

    The article failed to mention that AL is involved in his community teaching children nutrition and how to express themselves through art .As a person Al Is one of those people that’s always there for you. Keep up the great work .

  4. Janice Gray

    September 3, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Al your beginnings as an artist are to say the least unusual, very interesting and an inspiration. Your persistence and perseverance in combination with your creative and artistic talent have given us the viewer the opportunity to enjoy your amazing art. Thank you for sharing your story and your art. Truly impressive! I would love to visit your studio someday. Our daughter lives in Katy, TX and frequents Conroe often to visit family. I look forward to learning more and following your blog.

    • al heilman heilman

      September 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. Let me know and I will be glad to have you visit my studio.

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