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Helen Keen

Helen Keen is a self-taught Auckland artist who has been creating for over 35 years.  She is an artist and designer who has combined her passion for creating with exploring processes; currently working in encaustic wax, mixed media, acrylic and oil.

Helen worked for many years in ceramics, gaining recognition both nationally and internationally for the fine quality of the work.  Works that were distinguishable for the lustrous finishes and final thrown 'body'.  Detailing was of the utmost importance and often her pieces were elevated with feet.

Her 10 years potting was about the experience and hands on learning and teaching process. This foundation and history of experience underpins her self-taught art practice today.
 
“It has always been about teaching myself... being the teacher and the learner. More often than not – I am creating something... no matter what material I have at hand to create with… creating is a daily ritual.?  I see artmaking as an endless process … a journey, or stories unfolding with infinite possibilities & infinite potential; the creating process meets an on-tap supply of ideas.” 

“Encaustic wax – is my passion…. it’s an incredible material – not commonly used and made from beeswax and tree resin – it is unpredictable – which I love. The medium is painted onto a firm substrate as molten liquid, it hardens and cures and is polished to create a glossy sheen; it’s translucency and luminosity gives the surface of the wax the appearance and depth that no other material offers.  Each layer of wax is fused and multiple layers are bonded together with heat; I can add any number of layers – sometimes 50 – 70 layers!”
 
“The process is the ‘driver’ in my art practice - the unpredictability and nature of the wax and what happens during the heating stage underpins my interest to blend colours, create textures and expressions, reveal, cover and uncover, scratch and sgraffito, embed and transfer images and objects.”

“I often embellish with genuine 24K gold and silver leaf for a finishing touch.”
 
Known and respected for inspiring others through her work as a primary and adult Art teacher, Helen has availed herself to mentoring, work-shopping, private tutoring, artist-in-residence and teaching community groups. Her focus since 2020 has been on building a body of work and enjoying being a full time practising artist. 

"I feel the desire to explore and uncover the mysteries of art – through abstraction, colour, gestures with the brush, textures, mark making and incising as well as embedding objects.”
 
Helen lives on the coastline of the Manukau Harbour – a peaceful and inspiring place where she creates her wonderful works.  We met Helen in the Gallery when she shared her new encaustic wax series with us.  These are pieces of rare beauty, each with its own soft glowing presence.  Pieces that can be hung anywhere and enjoyed forever.


1 product

Taste of Beauty

An original encaustic wax painting by Helen Keen

NZD 1100