Helen Van Wyk . Com
Remembering Helen on DVD
The Artist -- The Teacher
 FACE-ME-NOW BING-ME-NOW GOOGLE-ME-NOW YAHOO-ME-NOW
ViewCartcartcart
 SwitchCart  
modeDesktopSwitchMode
Products
Helen Van Wyk . Com Home PageHome Page
Helen Van Wyk . Com Studio SeriesStudio Series
Helen Van Wyk . Com DVD Page 1DVD Page 1
Helen Van Wyk . Com DVD Page 2DVD Page 2
Helen Van Wyk . Com DVD Page 3DVD Page 3
Helen Van Wyk . Com VHS Page 1VHS Page 1
Helen Van Wyk . Com BrushesBrushes
Helen Van Wyk . Com BooksBooks
Helen Van Wyk . Com Gift SetsGift Sets
Helen Van Wyk . Com All ProductsAll Products
Articles
Helen Van Wyk . Com Wine and Music StudyWine and Music Study
Helen Van Wyk . Com Helen Van WykHelen Van Wyk
Helen Van Wyk . Com A Van Wyk CritiqueA Van Wyk Critique
Helen Van Wyk . Com Interview with HelenInterview with Helen
Policies
Helen Van Wyk . Com ShippingShipping
Helen Van Wyk . Com ReturnReturn
Helen Van Wyk . Com PrivacyPrivacy
Helen in Studio Interview 
with 
Helen Van Wyk
By Jan Claire

In mid-1994 after a hearty lunch of lobster sandwiches Herb gathered up from a local Rockport restaurant and brought home, Helen and I sat down in her private studio for a short while and just chatted. 

Jan - What do you feel is the real secret behind your painting success? 

Helen - I don't think I can put my finger on one thing. The whole secret is the years you spend learning your craft. It's the same way with a pianist, or a singer of opera. I like to tell people who ask me how long it took to finish a painting that it took me 2 days.....and 40 years! But if I had to put it into quick advice, I would say, "always paint plausibly". You see if a painting isn't plausible to the viewer then nothing else you can do will make it that way. 

Jan - Your mentor, Maxmillian Rasko, he was a portrait painter? 

Helen - Oh he was much more than just that. He was a teacher. I mean a real teacher, the sort whose every waking moment is devoted to showing you the way. One time he went out and bought a big bag of apples. He poured them out onto a table and told me, "Now spend the day painting these apples". So I did as I was told. 

When the painting was completed, he went over and put the apples back into the bag. Then he brought me the bag of apples and said, "All right now, I want you to pull each apple out of the bag and tell me which one is which in your painting!" It was a tough lesson in the difference between knowing - as we all do - that no two apples are alike, and actually painting them so you could tell them apart!

Jan - Who is Gertrude? 

Helen - (Laughs) Gertrude was a student in a seminar some time ago. She painted a beautiful pear with an unusual lump in it. The lump was so counter to the rest of the painting, I asked her why she put it there. "Because it WAS there," she said. Well that's a good example of why the artist should be in charge. She would have been much better off omitting the lump, because it drew the viewer's eye straight to the lump and you missed the beauty of the succulent pear. She should have painted what should BE, not necessarily what she saw. There's that plausibility thing again. 

(Note:the following is my favorite of all the thousands of "Helenisms"

Jan - You really put everything into painting! In this morning's demonstration you finished with your hands and arms covered with paint, it's on your blouse, the floor. You really get into it! 

Helen - (feigning surprise!) Well that's the essense of most artists' problems with painting, you know. Timidity. You CAN'T be timid. Don't be in awe of painting. Don't be afraid of the process! Grab it with gusto and beat the CRAP out of it!" 

After the interview we went back into our final afternoon of class and everyone departed with best wishes for their homes around the country.   


© 1999 Jan Claire - This article was reprinted with permission from the author.
 

Intro Video
Official PayPal Seal
Since Feb. 21, 2001

Official Amazon Seal
USPS Preferred Shipping Official Norton Safe Seal
Norton Safe Seal


All program, text and image content (C)Copyright 1998-2017 Helen Van Wyk . Com  - All Rights Reserved