About the Artist


My Story

My name is Heather Kadlec Shack. I'm recovering from a severe ischemic stroke that struck me in 2011 caused by medication I was taking. The stroke permanently affected the center of the left side of my brain, causing me to have very limited use of my right arm and leg. Along with my physical challenges, I also suffer from aphasia and apraxia, which greatly limit my ability to speak, read and write.

I had to re-learn how to communicate using a combination of a limited verbal and written vocabulary, gestures and drawing. Before my stroke I was right-handed, and since I have had to learn to do everything with my left.

After college, my first job was a media buyer for a Chicago-based advertising agency. After a few years I decided to pursue a need I felt to make a social impact, and I went back to school to become a teacher. I taught 3rd to 6th grades for eight years, then moved up to administration and became assistant principal at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield, IL. A few years later I became director of teaching and learning for the school district.

Painting and photography are passions of mine and have become my outlet to express myself in ways I cannot verbally or through writing. All my paintings are original and one of a kind.

My Mentor

I would like to thank my watercolor instructor and mentor, Tony Armendariz. If you are interested in learning how to paint with watercolors, Tony is a wonderful teacher. Read more about him on his website

My Favorite Charity

A portion of HMK Watercolors sales are donated to a charity very dear to me, the Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp. The camp benefits people who have had traumatic brain injuries. To learn about their many programs and camps or to donate, visit their website

My New Endeavor: HMK Living

I am excited to introduce the launch of my latest venture, HMK Living, a fashion line based on my original watercolor paintings! My team will be busy in the coming months designing and introducing clothing, accessories and home decor as it becomes available for purchase on hmkliving.com.