Vancouver Island based artist Helen Utsal works with acrylics and oil paint mixed with cold wax medium to translate the majesty of the stunning West Coast landscape to canvas. Natures exuberant and vital spirit calls for big gestures, motion and light. Helen’s paintings are colourful, expressive and emotive.
Born in Montreal, Helen obtained her BFA at Concordia University and apprenticed under painter Tom Hopkins. Helen comes from an artistic family; her grandmother Salme Utsal, a Montreal artist and her sister Kate Taylor, based in Toronto.
‘I developed a deep connection to wild places as a child, with my family, camping and canoeing. On Vancouver Island, inspiration is on my doorstep, where I run and hike the trails, kayak and storm watch. The landscape of ancient trees, the dramatic light and energy of the ocean continue to inspire colourful impressionistic paintings.’
Group of seven painter Tom Thomsons work is a strong influence. His gutsy dynamic gestures of thick oil paint and the expressive quality of his marks shaped her own approach to painting. Some of these same qualities of energetic mark-making can be seen in the work of another influence, abstract painter Karl Appel. The strong colours of the Fauvists and the emotion communicated by the Expressionists also informs Helens creative awareness.
In 2006, at her first solo show in BC, she was picked up by Whistler gallery Art Junction, who continues to represent her today. In 2010, Helen co-founded Art Alchemy Studio, a shared creative art center in Courtenay, BC. The vibrant atmosphere of creativity and shared experience has supported her artistic evolution and continues to enrich her life.
In addition to Art Junction Gallery, Helen is represented in Toronto by ArtProfile and E_Gallery in Liberty Village. She exhibits her paintings in Canada and the US and has work in private collections around the world.