Interview of Helen Poser by Sophie Pellegrini
Tell us a bit about yourself, Helen!
Hello! My name is Helen Groom Poser; I’m from Columbus, a quaint little town in Wisconsin and living in the big little city of Milwaukee. I am an artist, with a degree in painting and drawing, specializing in Oils. Now I work with pen, watercolor, gauche, and acrylic…anything but oil at the moment. I am also a maker; I marble fabric and sew.
How did you get started in the arts? Tell us a bit about the journey that’s led you here.
The journey started early, I watched my older brother excel in drawing at a young age, so naturally it had to be my thing too. Also being the only girl among 3 brothers, I was left out quite a bit, so drawing was my only friend at times, thanks brahs. Growing up my Mamachi (grandma) lived with/cared for us, she was the only adult I ever saw doodle, she would draw stylized Chuukese flowers, she sewed and crocheted too. The art that adorned my parents home were watercolored flowers/houses painted by my great great aunt Emily Groom and portraits/homes painted by Columbus’ Susan Stare. I would just gaze and think about these paintings…come to think of it, I would stare at a lot of things…radiator grates, wallpaper, and stucco ceilings. These are my cornerstones that set me on my path. Also not having TV until high school helped.
What’s your favorite thing to illustrate? Why?
I enjoy portraits, the process of measuring out the face and the starting penciled lines are always a good challenge. Once the face is to proportion, Ill have a loose plan, and intuitively work. I’m not sure why portraits are my favorite…I think I like the viewer to be gazed upon/studied/thought about or ignored as well.
What do you hope to express or communicate with your art?
I like to work in series, I’ll get an idea/story and want to express it in as many ways as I can, until the next urge of an idea comes about. I want to capture a portion of a person/time, through personal symbolism and snippets of life.
You also make textiles. Can you talk to us a bit about what you make and your work process?
I was looking for another form to put art on, and that is what led me to textiles! First thing I had printed onto fabric were watercolor Holsteins, to cut and sew crop tops from. After finishing that up, I painted bleeding full moons onto panchu (panties) and that led me to the magic of marbling. Teaching myself how to marble is probably the most research and studying I have ever done. After meticulously reading, writing, measuring, and timing everything out, the first marbled panchu made came out perfect, swirling and strong in color; that moment brought me great joy. A lot of trial and error and evolution of tools are continuously happening and I’m continuously learning/discovering. Right now I’m marbling onto tea towels, hankies and crop tops.
Pick one of your illustration series and tell us about it.
Sour Puss, a series I started in 2015 after a major lull in making. It is a painted appropriated collage of Insta-girls, patterns of life and words picked from conversations. I had been working small, with pen and watercolor for a while, and normally when I painted it was with oil. So this series has been an experiment. Working with acrylic, having fuller playful content and including words. It’s not my typical style but it is something I want to grow in.
What’s one of your favorite personal qualities?
Being a morning person.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and who would you bring, if anyone?
I love trips with my lady cousins; we are all sister-less and brother-full, so quality girl time is good and anywhere with them, is always an adventure. I would like to island hop Micronesia and end in Palau at Jellyfish Lake, where the jellyfish are stingless. Crazy.
What’s your strongest or favorite of the five senses?
Sight, for sure. Got a bad eye but I can gaze for days. Love colors.[share]