Artist of the week: Flixton painter on capturing movement in Manchester and importance of life drawing

By Chloe Vinden

After a long career in graphic design Helen Robinson decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a career in the arts.

The 45-year-old – originally from Flixton – made the switch four years ago and, after a recent appearance and Spinningfield’s Buy Art Fair, is welcoming commissions for her figurative and architectural pieces.

Her figurative works – which focus on musicians and dancers immersed in their art – emphasise flexibility and marry movement with strong lines and intense colour.

Helen told MM: “I’d always liked the illustrative side of design, and after I had my family, I needed an outlet.”

Helen’s move into art was inspired by her fascination with the strong emotion that the human form can evoke.

“I like their different natures, I like to imagine what they’re thinking whilst I paint them, after all everyone thinks differently,” she said.

All of Helen’s works are originals and she makes no copies, making each one of her paintings a truly unique.

Referring to her Manchester roots, Helen told MM: “It’s such an exciting place, I love painting the buildings and I’ve had several commissions before asking me to paint the local surroundings.”

After working on projects for the likes of Haggen Dazs, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Newcastle Breweries and the Royal Mail and forging a career in art Helen passed on a few pearls of wisdom for aspiring artists.

 “Life classes are the best way to improve your drawing,” she said.

“I like working with life and movement, it creates more spontaneous markings,” she told MM.

“When I do architectural pieces, it makes me a more expressive artist.”

Helen, who graduated from Newcastle University with a first-class honours degree, prefers to draw through the use of direct movement and has a tendency to produce pieces which either see musicians absorbed in their music or dancers demonstrating their strength. 

Helen told MM about the difficulty of capturing movement: “They brought a ballet dancer from Sydney in to perform a routine.

“I thought I’d never be able to capture it, but then she slowed her routine down. I managed to capture her movement through her use of repetition.”

Helen cites artists Lucian Freud and Jenny Saville and lesser known Bill Jacklin as her inspirations and influences works from her Wilmslow home in her own studio.

She uses stretched paper which is completely submerged under water before use to create her works alongside acrylics, inks and gouache.

Married with two grown-up children, Helen considers herself extremely lucky that she works as an artist full-time.

“I love my job. I get to paint what I want to,” she said.

You can find out more about Helen and her work by visiting her website here.

Images courtesy of Helen Robinson, with thanks

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