This month were excited to present Artist Helen Norsigian Rowles. Helen lives in Arizona, paints full time and teaches art classes.
1. How long have you been an artist and when did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career?
For me, it was never a conscience decision to become an artist. It simply was. As odd as it seems to me now, I never thought of my art degree in terms of a “career”. There was never a decision to be made because that was the only option I had for myself. I had no real thought as to what I was going to do! That’s a strange concept to me now as an adult.
I have been drawing since I can remember, about the age of three. Since my mother was an artist I have always been exposed to the arts. I saw her paint and we often went to the St. Louis Art Museum. Throughout the years I have applied my art talent to whatever I was involved with. But now teaching studio art to adult students is the most rewarding of anything that I have been able to navigate my art towards. So the simple answer to the question is Always!
2. What inspires you?
So much inspires me from visual to more emotional. I may see a shadow pattern that I can’t wait to draw or incorporate into one of my drawings. Trying to make sense of personal experiences often inspires me.
Often ideas come to me without any warning – it’s just there. I have learned to keep a small sketch book with me at all times so that when these gifts present themselves to me, I won’t forget. Music inspires me and being away from the city, away from the noise and distractions, is a way for me to be open to accept new ideas.
3. What is your favorite subject and medium?
This is hard for me because it’s just not one subject matter or one medium. I am inspired by figures in space and altering reality just enough to make my observation unique. So my landscapes are not usually literal to nature. The viewer knows that the piece is a landscape but it’s my vision of a landscape. My work is often representational but with a twist. The other concern is how I envision the finished piece, how I want it to look. This will dictate what medium I choose. The two mediums that I use the most are colored pencil and pastel. But my first love is graphite and black and white.
4. When you’re not feeling motivated, how do you push past it and get into the ‘creative zone’?
Music is a big inspiration for me. I’ll either put on some of my favorite music or play my guitar. The other thing I do is to go back to the basics and simply pick up a pencil and piece of paper and draw anything that’s in front of me. There is no pressure on my part to create a finished piece; I am simply drawing for the sake of drawing.
5. Who is your favorite historical artist?
6. What books do I recommend to help artists improve?
As many as they can expose themselves to! Even if there is only one small tidbit of information in a book, it’s worth the read. Expand your library as much as you can afford.
7. What is your favorite inspirational quote?
1. Never take a step backward, even to gain momentum.
2. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
3. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
4. “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” –John Adams
42” x 32”
Graphite, Conte, Charcoal
Explanation: “Mother Hummingbird” represents a strong mother figure sitting on her throne. She is flanked by two smaller birds which represent her children. She does not look at them directly; she is there for guidance and support when needed. The male bird is there for protection as he hovers, ready to spring into action when necessary.
I find the challenge of working in a series format a way to fully explore a subject matter, medium, or technique. This can be seen in the diversity of my work. Black and white tools like graphite, conte, and charcoal, dictate the end result of the piece. Colored pencil, mainly on wood panels, results in an end that is visually different from my black and white work. As I visualize a concept for a new piece, I decide what medium might best lend itself to convey on a two-dimensional surface what began as an idea in my heart. Color, line, composition, and patterns are key aspects of each piece that I create, but must be accompanied by a ‘reason’ for the piece – a message, a story. The challenge is always my desire to express my ideas regardless of the medium or drawing surface. This challenge keeps the process of creating art alive and vibrant.
Be sure and visit Helen’s Website for more information on how to purchase and to see more work: