I love interviewing artists and learning what makes them tick. Discovering a persons' process helps me to understand their art. In this column, I am lucky to be able to dedicate some of my columns to profiling local artists. Artist, Stephanie Helmey is featured. Enjoy!
Stephanie, what is your background in art?
I attended George Peabody College as an art major on a scholarship which I won in a statewide art competition in my senior year of high school. Unfortunately, I went to work part way through and did not complete my education. After 30 years as a manager in the telecommunications industry. I was able to retire and paint again full time. I've studied with some wonderful artists since then, including Frank Webb, Cheng-Khee Chee, Don Andrews and Mary Ann Boysen as well as local artists Gail McDaniel, Gayle Levee, Igor Babailov and Michael Shane Neal.
Can you tell us a little about your process & your chosen mediums?
For the past 5 years I've painted in oils. I love the rich, buttery nature of the paint, it feels lovely and sensual to work with - delicious! I enjoy painting in watercolor also but I hate cutting mats! I also love graphite and am fascinated with lines. I paint in a representational, almost graphic way. I love to render, and I love to render things that catch my eye. So you will see I do florals, figures, street scenes, landscapes and still lifes of objects that interest me - I like to paint whatever I see that makes me stop and look closer. It all starts with that. Then I try to understand what is about what I'm seeing that has caught my attention. Is it a shape, or a color or a play of light? Is it an interaction between people or a juxtaposition of things that speaks to me, and why does it speak to me? The answer to that question is what I try to paint.
Please tell us about your role as President of one of Nashville's oldest artist groups, the Nashville Artist Guild.
I am very honored to be serving the Nashville Artist Guild. I stepped into the role of President when our elected president, Ken White, a wonderful artist himself, had a serious health challenge and could not continue. It's our 60th year as an organization, so a very exciting time for us. We have an upcoming exhibition at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. We also are working on a book that tells the history of the Guild.
Are you exhibiting now, and, if so, where?
I presently have several pieces up at the University Club, along with other members in an exhibition of the local group, Art Seen. I have an individual show coming up in April in the Ethel Smith Gallery at the Tennessee Art League.
Can you tell us what your plans are for the future?
I am working on a website right now and hope to have it up by March. For the past 18 months I have worked on a series of large floral pieces, and have now begun a series of interiors, landscapes and figures from the Shaker Village in Kentucky.
I want to thank Stephanie for participating in this on-line interview and wish her the very best in the future!