Helen H. Conrad
Botanical Art & Illustration Animal & People Portraits
2018. All copyrights reserved. Helen H. Conrad
My interest in art was fanned early on by my father, a true Renaissance Man. He delighted in sharing his talents and enjoyment of music, photography, drawing and painting, and I was happily drawn into his world. During my teen years, we lived in Italy, where I was immersed in the larger world of great masters and dreamed of becoming an artist. Upon graduation from college, however, thoughts of an artistic career faded as graduate school, work, marriage and two children became my first priorities.
In 2005, I happened to see a flyer announcing a drawing class at the UNC Botanical Garden. I thought, “What fun! I’ve always liked drawing flowers!” It was love at first stroke, and four years later, I received my certificate in botanical illustration and began painting professionally. I enjoy working in various media – watercolor, pen and ink, graphite/carbon/charcoal, pastel, scratchboard, oil, acrylic, and colored pencils. My botanical subjects are generally local flora, found in the meadows, woods and gardens around my house. Animal and people portraits are another favorite endeavor, and I am beginning to experiment with land and seascapes.
Whether depicting flora, fauna or terra, I find myself in awe of the beauty, simplicity and intricacy of nature. My style is realistic because the real thing is spectacular. My goal is to represent small vignettes of the natural world that will pull the viewer in to take a closer look, appreciate its splendor, and, however briefly, feel a sense of joy in connecting with the exquisite tapestry of life around us.
I believe my artwork is so deeply satisfying and absorbing because it weaves together the various threads of my life and calls upon my love of color, light and line, as well as my interest in detail and my enjoyment in working with my hands. The process of creating art connects me with life and this earth, in all its seasons, and it pulls me close to those I love. My father, in particular, is always with me as I paint.
Prior to delving professionally into the world of art, I worked as a researcher, a National Board Certified Marriage and Family Counselor, and a high school teacher. I hold an M.Ed. and an M.S. and am certified to teach French and Exceptional Education. In 2009, I received a certificate in Botanical Art and Illustration from the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and I am a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. My work has been shown in numerous local exhibits. Several of my illustrations are published in "Collected Poems," by Margaret Ferris Harney. I live in the country outside of Hillsborough, NC with my husband, two dogs and two ducks.