Artist of the Month October 2018


Ilze Helgeland

Between London (UK), Stavanger (Norway), San Francisco (USA) and Riga (Latvia)

Ilze Helgeland is originally from Latvia. Her memories of The Republic of Latvia gaining back its independence from the Soviet Union has had a profound influence on her development as an artist and her Latvian identity. She started her career as a TV news reporter before she embarked on a series of expatriate assignments in different countries including Norway, England, Angola, Brazil, USA, and Venezuela. While living in these different countries, Ilze engaged in photography in support of articles written for various publications in Latvia. At the same time, she gradually increased her interest in graphic design and art. In 2018 she graduated Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

How and when did you start creating art?

I started my career as a journalist, and so telling a story has been a significant part of my life. During the last 20 years, I have lived in several countries on four different continents. Sometimes the foreign languages have limited the possibility to communicate. This is when my other senses open up, and I use my eyes, and images, and even my body language to communicate. That is how I gradually developed my interest in visual communication and art. I recently graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and now I am fully committed to painting.

What media and genres do you work in?

Working in oil colours is my ultimate preference. I find it resonates with my personality - flexible, willing to change, but has many layers of memories.

Who or what are your influences?

After exploring many countries and meeting with people from different cultures, I realise that the special moments in human life are those that last longest. Human values, culture, beauty, and uniqueness is highly prioritised in my visual storytelling.  
I have had the privilege to attend the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and have Instructors like Zhaoming Wu, Zimou Tan, Henry Yan, Albert Ramos, Kevin Moore, Paul Kratter, and many more. They taught me how to transform different emotional states on canvas. But most importantly, they taught me to be confident and love what I do.

What was your inspiration for Provocation?

The story of this painting is about taking a risk, challenging the present and letting go of the past. The risk is both in my colour palette and in the bolder brushstrokes, the challenge is the composition and the risk is to dare to break the rules. The same I would say about the personality of the model. This painting would not be the same without the strong presence of the actor who was willing to participate in this art project. 

Describe your creative process?

I start the painting by trying to capture a gesture, expression or individual uniqueness of this person. It is like meeting a person for the first time. We begin our conversation carefully. Then when we get more comfortable in each other's company, we become more free in our manner of speech. It is exactly how my brushstrokes start carefully and then gradually get more spontaneous and confident. At the completion of the painting, I feel confident as the light and paint fill my canvas. I admire people who have dared to be part of my storytelling and am grateful to them for trusting my artist instincts. 

What are you working on currently?

I have recently graduated from the Academy of Art and have many projects that I would like to bring to completion. I am working on two new series; one is continuing the theme of the human state, and the other is exploring art possibilities in nature. In a way, it is the same way I live my life. I love to be among interesting people, but once in a while I need a break and I go for a walk in the forest or along the sea. The same pattern happens in my studio - I try to balance my work between nature and people.

What are your near/long term goals as an artist?

At this moment my life is between Latvia, Norway, UK, and the US. Although art unites people, it is interesting to observe how different influences and art trends every country has. My goal as an artist is not to lose my artistic identity and instinct. Yes, There is sentiment and melancholy in my art, but I love to take a risk end experiment. There has to be a way to unite the classical beauty with a contemporary rebel.

Where can people view/purchase your work (gallery, website, etc)?

Open Imagination


Open Imagination

Girl in a blue scarf

Open Imagination

In the Morning

Open Imagination

Sentiment on the sofa

Open Imagination


Open Imagination

Girl in a blue scarf 2

Artist Website
All Images @ Ilze Helgeland
All Rights Reserved

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