Piet van Heerden was born on 19 October 1917 to South African missionaries in Malawi.
In 1927 he was sent to boarding school in Wellington. Van Heerden continued his education at the Cradock High School where he started painting, and received his first formal art training from a Catholic nun. Piet van Heerden moved to Worcester in 1939 to assist Hugo Naudé and studied under him until his death in 1941.
Van Heerden’s landscapes, figures and portraits show the unmistakable influence of Hugo Naudé to whose style he always aspired to stay true. He is generally considered a typical exponent of “Cape Impressionism” following the tradition of painters such as Gregoire Boonzaier. Van Heerden received popular support for his picturesque Boland landscapes. He also enjoyed painting the semi-desert scenes of the Northern Cape and Southern Namibia, as well as Namaqualand during springtime.
In 1952 he gave part-time classes at the Michaelis School of fine art. At this time he was also commissioned to paint a portrait of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr JH Conradie.
Van Heerden died at the age of 73 on 17 February 1991. His ashes were buried in the Kamieskroon area of the Namaqualand.