Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Mediums: oil, watercolour, acrylic, dye on silk
Style: primarily realist
When I was young, I loved to do artwork. When it came time to choose a career, art wasn’t an option for me. My family was poor and I needed to find a job with a regular salary. I got a student loan and went off to become a teacher. I had many rewarding years in teaching so I cannot say it was a mistake. When I retired in 2001, I decided this was my time to become an artist.
“Please tell us about your first experience creating”
I first began to draw as a child. A grade 8 teacher told me I had talent as an artist after I drew, “The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea.” The drawing is long gone but I can still picture it and remember the feeling of pride thanks to Mr. King. Art wasn’t offered in my high school although as a young adult I used to draw pencil portraits of my friends and family.
“How long have you considered yourself an artist?”
My immediate answer to that question is to say I began as an artist in 2001 when I retired from teaching and got into art full time but really I have always wanted to be an artist. As a teenager, I used to send in for the art tests that used to be in magazines and fill them out and send them in. Unfortunately, art school wasn’t in the budget and art wasn’t considered an occupation at that time.
The Sunset © Helen Duplassie
This sunset was done in oil and was inspired by a photo that a friend took of a Manzanillo sunset. I really love this one.
“What are you trying to convey to viewers through your art?”
I want to see if I can convey to my viewers the beauty of nature when I have seen something that I feel is beautiful or powerful in some way or beautiful in its simplicity.
“Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion.”
Most of the time I start by taking a photograph of what or who I want to paint. Then I decide how much of the photograph will make a good painting. In a landscape, I may change the scene a little, omit some detail or add some colour, for example. I paint for a few hours and then put it on the shelf and study it for a while before my next session, deciding what I like and what I don’t like.
“What things inspire you to create art?”
I can get inspired for a painting by almost anything. There is always a way to make something interesting. Of course beautiful scenes inspire us all but recently I was inspired by an old rusty enamel jug that I spotted on an old bench while touring John A. MacDonald’s Kingston home. I consider it one of my best paintings to date.
John A.’s Jug © Helen Duplassie
This oil is from a pic I took in John A. MacDonald’s house in Kingston. I was so happy with it, I am planning to do more still life paintings.
“What exhibitions have you had?”
My first exhibit was called, “Five Weeks in Paris.” I had been there visiting my daughter so I painted many of the attractions and gardens there. The next one was with a group of friends. We called it, “Around the World” and put in paintings of our travels. I have a lot of group exhibits at the Beaux-Arts, Brampton Gallery where I am a member.
“Have you sold any of your artworks? How?”
I have sold to family and friends privately, from the gallery, from a coffee shop that exhibits our art, from my website and from one free artist website.
“How do you promote your art on the internet?”
The Old Bridge at Warwick Castle © Helen Duplassie
This was painted in acrylic from a photo I took while visiting this spot in England. I could just imagine back in the day, Henry the VIII thundering across this bridge on his horse.
“Tell us about influences”
I have been strongly influenced a number of my instructors over the last 11 years including Beaux-Arts’ wildlife artist Kelly McNeil and watercolour artist Ken MacFarlane. I try to take something from every instructor in developing my own style. I also belong to several groups (watercolour, dye on silk and portrait painters) where I learn from my peers.
“I have also been influenced by the landscapes of the French Impressionists.”
My favourite artist is Vermeer. Who else has ever captured the beauty of milk being poured from a jug? I love his realism and use of light.
“Please recommend another artist you admire, and tell us a little about them.”
I admire my friend Kelly McNeil. She is an amazing wildlife and portrait artist. She can look at something and break down the colours and then recreate them in such beautiful works. They will amaze you.
She is also the mother of four active teens.
Check her out at Mcneilportraits.com
Spirit Island © Helen Duplassie
This is one of the most beautiful spots in Jasper National Park. I can’t resist beautiful scenery.
“Tell us something interesting in your life.”
I’ve done quite a few paintings of the sights in Europe where I love to travel, especially Paris and the British Isles. Recently I was had the opportunity to listen to Robert Bateman speak, and his advice was to paint in your own backyard. I really liked this idea. This is my world and this is what people around here can relate to. I’m going to follow this advice, most of the time.
“What is the most annoying thing someone has said to you about your art?”
One of my early paintings was of the Eiffel Tower. It was going in an exhibit and I was helping Mary hang the show. There was a main room and a back hall by the washrooms. She hung mine in the main room although one of the paintings couldn’t be hung because it wasn’t wired. Luckily or sadly, I had some wire so we wired the painting. Mary took down my painting and put it in the back hall at the very back and put the newly wired one in the main room where mine had been.
That spoke volumes to me! I do realize now, after some more art education, that the painting did have some perspective problems which I later corrected.
“Do you have any regrets in your life as an artist?”
My biggest regret is giving it up for most of my life because my job took up so much time.
The Badlands, Ontario © Helen Duplassie
I painted this in watercolour. These clay hills are close to Brampton and look like the US Badlands hence we have adopted that name.
“What plans do you have for the future of your art?”
I plan to continue on this path. I like to paint for several days a week and I like to stay involved in Beaux-Arts where I am the Director of Administration. I will continue with my groups where I am learning to be a better artist. Since I was so please with my still life painting, I am definitely going to do more of these. As a former farm girl, I love to paint farms and farm related things.
“Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?”
Paint, paint, paint! The more you paint, the better you get.
Do it because you love it. Very few of us get rich.
Helen Duplassie - Finding Myself After Retiring
Brampton, Ontario, Canada