About Alan Helfen
In some ways, my art is my prayer and my declaration of faith. I approach my work intuitively, whether starting from an idea, a concept or symbol, or from a drawing or photograph for a representational work, or simply allowing the materials themselves to suggest a direction. I love my materials, how they feel in my hand, how they smell, look, even sound as I use the various processes to create. I combine color, form, shape, texture, and especially transparency to create a harmony and balance that is not static, that is dynamic and moving. I may start with a line, a shape or some background color or texture. I like to add layers, creating a multidimensional feeling, as though nothing that we see on the surface could stand on its own without connection to deeper and deeper layers of meaning. I bring all of my energy to my works, leaping into them in the faith that the process of creating will take me somewhere that is exciting, intrinsically meaningful, and may possibly reveal to me a deeper truth about myself or life in general. What I end up discovering may not withstand reason, but I know that I have achieved my purpose when I feel a sense of fullness or joy. And when I fail, I look for what I can learn, which in turn contains its own kind of joy.
I began making art as a young boy sitting at my mother's side, helping with her many arts and crafts projects. While my mother went on to become a master cloisonné artist, my interests ran toward design, painting, jewelry and sculpture. I studied basic art through high school and then pursued more conventional work for several decades. I returned to art full time in 2010, taking classes at the College of San Mateo, Pacific Art League, Cabrillo College, all the while learning as much as I could from the generosity of my teachers and my own experimentation.
I paint in oils and acrylic, as well as mixed media, and have created hand wrought silver jewelry and constructed sculpture from steel and glass. My current focus is in exploring the use of color, texture, design, symbolic elements, including Hebrew and other alphabets, and layering, to explore the origins of existence, and the sense of the deeply spiritual underpinnings and connectedness between all things.
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