You don’t have to be from Portland, or even live in Portland, to know that this is a city made by and for artists. Sure, a lot of people will argue that, over the last decade or so, its artistic integrity has been challenged and maybe even marred by booming, shiny business—but at the soul of this city, the creative still thrives. One of these creatives is Helen Feild.
Working Artists Studio Educational Collective, located in the industrial district of Portland, is Feild’s sanctuary. It’s where she goes to focus and allow her subconscious to reveal itself on canvas.
Using only the primary colors to create tints, tones, and shades, Feild’s work feels both organic and familiar to the human spirit—uncontrived. When you step back and take in her work collectively, you see a family. Each piece is uniquely its own, but belongs to a larger collection that has been growing for years.
When the three of us met up, it felt a lot like reconnecting with an old friend and kindred spirit. Helen’s calm, confident, and inviting nature radiates immediately, and so it’s no wonder that you also get that sense when looking at her paintings.
Originally from Arkansas, Helen received her BA in Studio Art and a Masters of Teaching Elementary at Centenary College of Louisiana. Her work has been shown in her home state as well Louisiana and here in Oregon.
Landscapes, textures and geometric shapes come to light in Helen’s paintings. When describing the process, she explained that it’s often like exposing what’s already there. Those landscapes, textures and shapes—they exist, they’re alive. It’s a matter of stripping away, almost acting like a mediator between brush and canvas, allowing those things to come to the forefront and have a voice.
As I sat and watched her work, I noticed she put a great deal of time into the underpainting. I asked why. She said, “Starting with a white canvas is too intimidating.” That got me thinking about a lot of things in life. How it’s not often that beauty shows itself immediately. How you need to first lay the soil before you can expect to see flowers. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I thought of our rugged coastline and how its stunning layout came to be thanks to millions of years worth of rock and land being slowly but surely stripped away, re-layerd, and stripped again.
Next Friday, we’ll get to take a look at Helen in her studio—making, creating, bringing her visions to life, and she’ll fill you in on the story behind what she does. Until then, check out her work!
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Cheers, my friend ❤