Helen DeRamus
Visual Artist

2017 Artist Statement

My paintings and work on paper investigate memory both its fragility and power. I am especially interested in finding ways to depict the concept of memory, unearth personal histories and track the passage of time using nature and the landscape, sometimes directly, sometimes abstractly, microscopically, or non-objectively. My inspiration for images comes from working many hours in the studio and in the field: taking photographs, observing, drawing and collecting objects from the natural world. 

I begin drawing and making marks using India ink and watercolor that form the initial structure of the painting on my support, usually a birch wood panel. The drawing may be completely covered or remnants may remain when the painting is finished. The initial image evolves slowly before I begin to apply paint. I work on many paintings at a time so that each painting informs the next.

For encaustic paintings, I use molten beeswax, tree resin and pigment, beginning by applying the paint and then fusing each layer with a torch. Using an organic approach, I apply multiple layers, constructing and deconstructing until I see what I like. I use the same approach when working with cold wax and oil paint though the image is not heated, the process involves the same multiple layering.

With layers of paint and texture rich with color and tactility, I search to reveal how memory may be recorded, stored and retrieved from my point of view.