helen VAN POORTEN
As I look at the world around me, I constantly ask myself what it is that makes the scene beautiful or interesting, and why it inspires me. I look for shapes, for the intersection of light and shadow, and for the glow of reflected light. As an artist, I try to understand these phenomena and I feel compelled to recreate them on paper. I see my surroundings as a painting yet to be realized.
I have been creating art for most of my life. My earliest memories are of sitting next to my architect father at his drawing table. After a career as an elementary school teacher, my retirement offered me the opportunity to work on my art more or less full-time. (Watercolours, Pastels, Watercolour Batik)
Mostly self-taught, I am inspired by my surroundings and by books and artwork which I study carefully to learn new techniques. Like many artists, I have enjoyed participating in workshops and learning from other accomplished artists. Over the years I have studied watercolour at Buckhorn school of art, at Southampton School of Art, at Mohawk College in Brantford, at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, as well as from Davona Paquette, a celebrated watercolour artist from Ayr, Ontario. Additionally, I have participated in workshops in pastel painting with Sharon Cranston in Bloomfield and with Dave Beckett, a pastellist in Orillia whose work I greatly admire.
Most recently, I learned the technique of creating batik paintings on rice paper, using hot wax and watercolours, from artist Linda Virio. Although I paint mostly landscapes in watercolour, pastel and India ink, I have always loved buildings, houses and cityscapes. Because of this affinity for architecture, I have been commissioned to paint many house portraits both locally and abroad.
As well as paintings, I create an ever-changing, unique line of jewellery in sterling silver and mixed metal. Having admired the native American silver jewellery on frequent trips to Arizona and New Mexico, I had a desire to learn silver-smithing so I could create my own silver jewellery. I studied the basics with local artist, Monika Becker. Later, I also took lessons in stone setting from silversmiths in Arizona.
In addition, I learned about a very old tradition of using vintage silverware in the creation of rings, bracelets , watch bands, and pendants. The resulting jewellery is as varied and beautiful as the many silver patterns I find in vintage and antique shops. I have often been commissioned to create one-of-a-kind jewellery from family heirloom silverware
My paintings have recently been accepted at juried shows at the Colborne Gallery as well as at the Northumberland Art Gallery, and I have shown my art at Glenhyrst Gallery in Brantford, the Northumberland Art Gallery in Port Hope and at A Gift of Art in Newcastle. Additionally, my paintings hang in private collections in Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, and in Germany. My jewellery is sold in regional shops and at local shows. It is always a special joy to encounter someone wearing one of my pieces.
(Helen is a member of Art Associations: Spirit of the Hills (Northumberland), and ECOAA – East Central Ontario Art Association.)