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Art Beat: Scripted art

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Jennifer Helner
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Artwork by Jennifer Helner

Jennifer Helner is a West Michigan realist watercolor painter of flowers, landscapes, and creative lettering. Helner is an art instructor with private students and at galleries. Helner teaches watercolor, drawing, pastels, creative hand lettering, and traditional calligraphy, and she offers workshops on matting and custom framing. She has a custom framing business called Scripted Expressions and serves on the Lowell Arts board of directors.

A conversation with Jennifer Helner

“My interest in art began when I was 11,” Helner says. “I started taking private lessons at a store in Livonia. I studied there until I went to college. I learned calligraphy, actually, in high school. I went to a Catholic high school and the nun that taught the art classes was a calligrapher, so it was a part of our curriculum every year. Then I went to Wayne State, and I got my BFA in painting. My main interest was watercolor.”

After college, Helner returned to calligraphy, developing her skills yet further and turning to teaching her skills to others. She added on painting and framing classes, become a member of Lowell Arts and serving on the organization’s board.

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Jennifer Helner
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Artwork by Jennifer Helner

Helner says she was drawn to painting with watercolors rather than other mediums because of “the freedom, the looseness, the flow, the transparency. You can put layers upon layers. I got to the point of just painting in my studio, by myself, and I would get frustrated—oh, I really messed this up! As a watercolorist, you keep on wanting to fix and fix and fix, to the point that it’s totally destroyed. So I gave myself grace. You know what? It’s a piece of paper! It’s not anything that expensive. Just start over!”

That would become one of the most important lessons Helner would pass on to her students—don’t be afraid to make a mistake, don’t be afraid to start over. Don’t give up on your gift. Helner will be teaching two classes at Lowell Arts Center from February 24 to March 17. The Beginning Calligraphy class will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Thursday for a class fee of $154, which includes all materials. The Beginning Watercolor series will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday for a fee of $133, which includes all materials. Both classes are for ages 14 to adult. Registration is required.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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