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Drawn to the visual

Canby woman discovers abstract painting later in her life, enjoys experimenting with color combinations

May 7, 2011
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

It was just a little more than three years ago when Helene Henderson of Canby decided to take up abstract painting.

"It just sort of happened," Henderson said.

Henderson had spent most of her adult working life in reference book publishing and had lived in Detroit, Mich. before moving to the Canby area in 1998.

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Submitted photo
Pictured is Helene Henderson’s painting “Underwater Rush.” Henderson started painting more than three years ago without taking any lessons. She had spent most of her adult life in the publishing business.

"I was verbally oriented for so long," she said. "I had creativity stopped up for many years."

After a while, Henderson was drawn to the visual arts, to paintings. So she decided to try it for herself, and in 2008, she started painting abstracts using acrylics.

"I like it because to me, it's really free," she said about painting abstracts. "And rather than try and represent something in the real world, I try to represent what I see in my mind's eye. I just find doing abstracts really liberating.

"I can do anything I want, as opposed to writing something on history."

Both her mother and father painted for a while, so that's where Henderson figures she got her talent from.

"I used to say that all my life 'I can't even draw,'" Henderson said.

Henderson said she likes to experiment with colors, shapes and brushstrokes, playing with them. She usually paints every morning.

"I still do that, that's how I still approach a painting," Henderson said.

Most of her artwork is her impressions of moods and the natural world. For example, in her painting "Ghost Place," it has the suggestion of old buildings, she said, with a hazy feeling.

Henderson said she has painted actual places.

"But I'm not happy with them," she said.

Prints of three of her works are in the gift shop at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Center: "Bumblebees," "Score," and "Standing Alone Together." Her work has also appeared in a gallery in Minneapolis.

The most common thing people remark on her works is the use of color, Henderson said.

"They like the color combinations," she said.

Henderson's paintings have such names as "Underwater Rush," "Standing Alone Together" and "Disruption Interruption." She said it's sometimes tough to come up with a title for her artworks.

"That's often the hard part, sometimes I know what it's going to be called, others I have to let sit and ask 'what's going on with my mind,'" Henderson said.



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