Art Beat: scripted art

Jennifer Helner is a realistic watercolor artist of flowers, landscapes, and creative lettering from West Michigan. Helner teaches art with private students and in galleries. Helner teaches watercolors, 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 sits on the board of Lowell Arts.

A conversation with Jennifer Helner

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

After college, Helner returned to calligraphy, developing her skills even further and turning to teaching her skills to others. She added painting and framing lessons, became a member of Lowell Arts, and served on the organization’s board of directors.

Artwork by Jennifer Helner

Helner says she was drawn to watercolor painting rather than other mediums because of “the freedom, the looseness, the flow, the transparency. You can put on layers upon layers. I ended up painting in my studio, all by myself, and I was frustrated – oh, I really messed it up! As a watercolourist, you keep wanting to fix and fix and fix, to the point that it’s totally destroyed. So I gave myself the grace. You know what? It’s a piece of paper! It’s not something that expensive. Just do it again!”

This would become one of the most important lessons Helner would impart to his 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 teach two classes at the Lowell Arts Center from February 24 to March 17. The Beginners Calligraphy Class will be held from 2-4 p.m. every Thursday for a fee of $154, which includes all materials. The Beginning of Watercolor Series will run from 6-8 p.m. every Thursday for a fee of $133, which includes all materials. Both classes are for ages 14 to adult. Registration is mandatory.

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