Bio

Helen Utsal works out of her studio in Comox B.C. painting colourful loose landscapes.

Helen studied Fine Arts at Concordia University, in Montreal and through school worked as a studio assistant; underpainting large canvases, making grounds, sizes, frames and stretching canvases for two professional artists.
An IATSE member in Toronto, Helen worked on dozens of feature films, as a scenic artist and painter. She also worked on independent films, television, music videos and commercials.

Inspired by my life: my family, friends, and community all inspire me, but nature is my greatest muse and what I paint.
I seek out beautiful natural places and see extraordinary paintings all around me. As a part of my landscape, I absorb and memorize the colours, contrasts and light. Often I paint ‘plein air’ (out in the open air); whether it’s off my doorstep at 11 o’clock at night (SandPines), or down a million stairs to the ocean waves (FloBay).

The landscapes I explore here on Vancouver Island show up in my canvases; a unique expression of the vitality and diversity that the west coast is.

I start with acrylics; laying out hot colours, metallic or pearlescent paints, even glitter. Next I work into the picture with oil paint and cold wax medium, leaving bits of glimmering light that jump out as you walk by the painting. The flashes of light are contrasted by fat waxy oil paint on top. I like to make large paintings so you can really enter the place…you can almost smell the moist, mossy air…