Milkweed Flower, 20×24, watercolor on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

My visual concerns run the gamut from careful study to poetic, symbolic and sometimes political representations of nature.

Humming Bird Pollinator, watercolor on paper, 5×7, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel

You are all invited to my exhibition ‘Second Nature:  New Paintings at the Grace Chosy Gallery, November 2-24, 2012.   The Grace Chosy Gallery is at 1825 Monroe Street, (Across from Trader Joe’s) in Madison, WI.

Vanilla and Allspice: Super Naturam (Above Nature), 20×24, watercolro on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

I enjoy immersing myself in the careful looking that painting from life allows. Making art is one of the few activities we have were we are allowed to slow down, to a stop, and take a second look; to examine nature for the hours it may take to know it by looking. I often layer metaphoric meaning into the images I creates.  This has been especially true of those paintings inspired by concerns for, or appreciation of, the natural world.

The End of Cold, 20×16, watercolor on paper, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

My paintings consider our place in the landscape and our relationship, as humans, to nature, including the species that are dependent on cold for their survival.

Some of my new paintings explore the complex realities of the changing climate while considering of the metaphors we use to describe our relationships with each other and Nature. They shift away from the very gendered metaphor of the unselfish, all-giving Mother Nature to a less human-centered Second Nature.  This Second Nature responds to the pressure it is under without regard for humanity, much as we humans often ignore the effect of our actions on the world.

Earth Elemnet” Drought, 40×30, watercolor on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

Increasingly I finds myself creating environments that contain both the decay of destruction and the beauty of new growth.  My Elements Series emphasizes power and destruction that occur when earth, fire, water, and air are out of balance, becoming drought, forests burning, drenching precipitation, and dangerous storms.  The fifth element, spirit, calls us to restore the balance.

Spirit Element, 40×30, watercolor on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

My birds and bees are lovingly painted and celebrated for their beauty, but my paintings also evoke narratives reminiscent of the use of the canary in the mind shaft. My paintings ask “Where are the bees?” because as go the bees…

As Go The Bees…, 22×20, watercolor on paper, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

How is it we are drawn to representations of nature but have moved so far from seeing ourselves as a part of nature; of knowing where our food, air, and water comes from; and from being responsible stewards for the earth?   We seem to have become increasingly divorced from direct contact with the natural environment unless it intruded upon our lives in the form of extreme weather and its consequences, but nature is starting to get our attention. My basic premise is that:  We are nature.  What we do to the world we do to ourselves and we do to ourselves we do to the world.

Water Element: Drenching Precipitation, 40×30, watercolor on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

This particular body of work also demonstrates my exploration of new media as I expands on my traditional use of watercolor on paper to explore the flexibility of painting with watercolor on canvas.


Fire Element: Forests Burning, 40×30, watercolor on canvas, ©2012 Helen Klebesadel

I must thank my sister artist Nikki Kinne for convincing me to try a watercolor canvas on our plen air painting trip last November (what a difference a year makes).   Nikki handed me a canvas and said “Paint”  and I did.  I haven’t stopped.

Bee Pollinator I, 7×5, watercolor on paper, ©2011 Helen Klebesadel