Interview with Artist Helen Harris

Helen Harris PaintingAbout Helen

Exploring mixed media art has been my quest in recent years. I am a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art ( University of the Arts). A BFA in Graphic Design introduced me to a career in the commercial arts.Freelance and teaching assignments ranging from coloring books to spot illustrations later evolved to include employment in signage and display.

I was born in upstate New York. My childhood exploration of fields,lakes and mountains inspired my early interest in art. While raising three daughters, my interest in painting was never forgotten. Today I exhibits my mixed media paintings at outdoor shows and galleries in the northeast.

Click here to reach Helen’s Website

ARTIST STATEMENT

Fragmented by rock forms,forests and turbulent waters, these multi-layered landscapes,seascapes of mixed media define my work.

Using only calligraphic brush strokes to define detail, the mix of color is splashed through an assortment of watercolor and rice papers,papyrus and fibers.

THE INTERVIEW

Q: What medium or mediums do you work with?

A: I work in watercolor,gouache and acrylic with a mixed media of textures. The textures are usually torn papers of rice banana,bark and papyrus and painted watercolor papers.


Q: How long have you been an artist? How did you get started?

A: I have been painting professionally since 1974.  A BFA in Graphic Design introduced me to a career in the commercial arts.Freelance and teaching assignments ranging from coloring books to spot illustrations later evolved to include employment in signage and display.


Q: Do you have any formal training or are you self taught?

A: I am a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art ( University of the Arts). The public library and North Light Book Club sustained later years of study.


Q: Do you have any favorite art supplies that you would like to recommend?

A: I use Kilimanjaro 300lb. watercolor paper (available from Cheap Joe’s). I recommend it for anyone using collage techniques. It is very supportive for collaging techniques as well as providing a superb surface for watercolor,gouache and acrylics and requires no stretching.


Q: Do you work with any specific styles or subject matter?

A: My subject matters are generally landscapes & seascapes with textural elements enhancing the surface.


Q: Can you recommend any books videos or other resources that will help new artists?

A: I highly recommend the creativity books by Julia Cameron, especially “The Artist’s Way”.  I have found the work of marketing coach Alyson Stanfield helpful in heading an artist in the right direction professionally. Read her book “I’d Rather be in the Studio”


Q: How do you get ideas to create a piece? What inspires you?

A: Walks, bike rides ,car rides..anywhere I see the lay of the land. Early in my studies I made a habit of forming a composition of a scene as I passed by .Blinking as if my eye were a camera and capturing that particular moment, the light,a scene, an object, as I passed. Those images, cataloged in my minds eye are then what I draw upon for my later paintings.


Q: Are there any artists that have influenced you and why?

A: Gerald Brommer..collage techniques.

Nita Engle..sparkle & light and freedom in watercolor.

Pat Dews…design,collage

Stephen Quiller..acrylic

Don Getz..watercolor/acrylic

Each of these artist have given me an “ah-ha!” moment that advanced my work.


Q: Do you have a website you would like to share?

A: This link will bring you to  Alyson Stanfield’s marketing site with a free newsletter and information to purchase her book that I recommend to anyone trying to make a living as an artist.


Q: Finally do you have any last words of advice for beginner artists?

A: If you treat every painting or line as precious then you show that you are fearful that you will never create again. Paint,draw ..with abandon,everyday!Have at it..it’s only a piece of paper,not brain surgery!

Comments

  1. Laris says

    Helen creates some amazing textural watercolor and ink paintings by using layers of torn and crumpled paper for her painting surface.

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