Helen’s Bio

       Since I can remember, I have  been fascinated by pictures done by human hands. I have wanted  to get down on paper what I saw. I will never forget my first trip to an art gallery, where I saw dancers by Degas; they looked so much more beautiful than the girls in my dance class. So I drew and drew, mostly people—figure and portrait. There was no chance of majoring in art in college because as a child of the Depression, I had to be more certain of making a livelihood.  My parents wanted me to go to medical school; I drudged my way through a science major, getting to dislike biology more and more. One bright and shining course was in Drawing and Painting. In 1951 at less than 5’ 1”, medical schools saw me as unable to bear the wear and tear. But there was no problem getting accepted in an occupational therapy program, which at that time emphasized the study of arts and crafts. Fellow students shared my love for art. No one thought it strange that at meetings I drew little likenesses/caricatures of my peers—did it for the fifty years of employment. I drew faces of people on TV—political interviews were the best source.

Whenever I could, I took adult education courses in art. Not much in Canandaigua, NY. Figure drawing in St. Louis. Acrylic painting (still life and landscape) in DC. When I married and had a daughter, there was little time for art study. (Still those little faces kept getting churned out). Working with the elderly, I was fascinated by the faces of people whose stories were written by those expressions, those lines—I wanted to capture them on paper, but it was not possible.

When I had grandchildren, I wanted so very much to capture them on paper/canvas. I took a figure class at Torpedo Factory, and that experience made me feel as if I had absolutely no talent. So I gave up my aspirations for 13 years, at which time I retired. I decided then to try again, took a class in Portrait and Figure Drawing and Painting with Gavin Glakas of the Yellow Barn. He taught in such a step by step manner, giving support consistently, that I began to like what I did; I made gains. But I was not satisfied, having tasted the fruits of success—I wanted to become less representational and branch into the areas of still life and landscape. So I studied with Jordan Bruns and Walt Bartman, who gave me such wonderful instruction and confidence that I finally was able to paint pictures of each of my four grandchildren. In the meantime, I learned about composing a still life and producing a recognizable painting in plein air. An added bonus was becoming a member of Seven Palettes. We teach each other all kinds of things that one can learn only from peers. We entered exhibits, we shared plein air trips, we support each other during good and bad times.

While I have not even begun to emulate Georgia O’Keeffe, I have been seen as using Monet’s style in some landscapes. I would love to incorporate some Klimpt. For now I am starting to fulfill a desire to paint older faces—I am volunteering at the Armed Forces Retirement Home to paint portraits of any interested veteran. It is such a fulfilling experience to explore the faces and to hear “That’s me

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