Week 8 – Artist Conversation – Helen Cox


This past week in the art galleries, I was intrigued by many of the art pieces. The art was very detailed and was carefully defined. I was very impressed and I decided to ultimately speak with Helen Cox, a graduate student at CSULB.

Cox claims that she gathered a lot of her inspiration from the landscape aspect design. Even when she sketches or paints portraits, she completely considers landscape. She has also gained inspiration from her appreciation of trees. In her sketches, Helen aims to pursuit the imagery through the landscape, allowing her gut instincts to flourish and guide her through her works. She says that her art allows her to express what she has wanted to realize and to let it unconsciously formulate.

IMG_4930In the image to the far left of her section, there is an older lady sitting and pondering. Susan, Cox’s neighbor, allowed Cox to come over on Fridays for two hours and for two months. She let her come into her home and paint her with her instrument of choice, which was a type of crayon. Although the two ladies were not so close, a friendship definitely developed over time. Helen helped Susan to overcome certain insecurities about herself. She would ask Helen, “Why do you want to draw me?” Luckily, after a while of meeting with Helen, Susan gained appreciation for the newly acquired confidence that Helen had been trying to instill in her. So, she started looking forward to the meetings. One can actually understand this story and what the portrait signifies through these implications.

IMG_4931The photo in the middle was a beautifully crafted photo of Helen Cox’ daughter, Naomi. Helen says that she had worked on and completed this work of art in her first semester of grad school. She claims to love drawing people that she loves. It was very interested, initially. I told her that I completely thought that her daughter was being scolded or punished. I thought the legs in the mirror, which actually belonged to Helen, were actually those of someone who was punishing her daughter. Helen actually told me that the analysis and observation were interesting because that is not what she originally intended. However, she appreciated my perspective.

IMG_4932The final portrait, which was also the largest portrait, contains a large woman looking beyond the coast of the beach. It is a beautifully drawn portrait; the shades compliment each other very well and the crafting of the piece is admirable. The portrait is landscape and is composed of two models. It began with a compilation of sketches in the artists’ sketchbook repertoire. She found one model and another that was a “landscape, herself”. When Cox had the epiphany, the ideal developed and she decided to mesh two models together. It took her a total of six months to complete it, but only two months were consecutive, progressively. Since these two ladies were models and Helen had no personal relationships with them, she found that it was much easier to illustrate.

I asked Helen what the reasons were for choosing these specific people. She emphasizes that she likes to paint people that she loves, which I found to be most amiable. I told her that that was truly something special and kind to say. For me, that indicates that her artwork derives from a very personal place, rendering her work masterful, unique and genuine. Cox says that her professor had disagreed that she had finished work she thought to be done. She started to work on the piece again, and during the second run, she found that the art was coming more and more to life, lessening contrast and texture. She told me that she pushed herself. She incorporated the ideal into her art by pushing herself beyond her limits. It has helped her to shape her goals that she has set for herself after Grad School. I find that, too, admirable.


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