My Current Work- ABUNDANCE

Whistling for Rodger”, paper collage, acrylics, metal gilding, by  artist Helen Wilson


This past summer and autumn I have several new pieces in my studio. Their themes all seem to revolve around the idea of ABUNDANCE. Living on the edge of the woods we are constantly surrounded by Nature’s Abundance. So many leaves, so many grasses, flowers,tress, stones and living beings. Everywhere and always. This abundance fascinates and inspires me.

Skylark for the Artist” paper collage, acrylics, metal gilding  by artist Helen Wilson


 Summer’s abundance has come and gone, followed by Autumn’s generous spirit.

Now we are on the border edges of winter and Nature’s abundance takes on a new face.

How Long Does It Take????

Last weekend I had a wonderful time sharing my artwork at the Bellissimo Art show at Gervasi Vineyard in Canton,Ohio. Lovely setting, lovely  day.  I had the opportunity to show my work with hundreds of people. Many of these people looked at me and asked“How long does it take to do this?” I understand the question.


Many of my pieces appear to contain hundreds of pieces and are made up of a variety of papers.

My answer is always,”There really is no telling how long it takes” Some pieces are done in a week, while others may take a month or more. I work on more than one piece at a time. This an an artist’s trick to ensure that the creativity keeps flowing. That way if I get “stuck” on one  collage, I can work on another. Some of my pieces have taken 6 months or more to complete, others, a year. Last year I had several that i called my “May to September Series.”

I do not plan the work out ahead of time. I start with an idea, a color, an emotion, a textured paper that I feel inspired to use and then slowly begin to build a piece. Not an easy road. I spend hours taking pieces of paper in and out of the piece. I like to think that when someone is purchasing one of my collages that they are not just paying for the finished piece of art but that they are also paying for all the pieces that I did not put in the final product. For me it is a journey. I consider myself “making the paper journey” and  I feel   very blessed and privileged  to be able to make this creative journey.

The Odd Silence of the Botanical World

As I walk through my winter-weary garden, I have to remind myself that these “old sticks” are actually plants just waiting their turn. They look dead, dull and unsightly. Rather hopeless i would say. Below, find a picture of the same spot, same garden, taken last July!! That is just three months from now!  If I did not know it to be true from all the springs i have seen come and go I myself would not believe it either.

Inside these old dry “sticks” a lot of activity must be going on. It seems that if I were to stop and put my ear to these old twigs that I should hear all sorts of unusual sounds of inner work, enterprise and animation. I never thought about it before, how odd that plants are silent. Seems like I should hear the “juices” running, the cells expanding, the chlorophyll doing its magic. And yet they stand unmoving and silent.


Inside,  up and down  the trunks, across the stems, up from the roots and within the tiny buds, the beautiful mechanics of Spring are underway.  Yet no hint to all this grand effort is seen or heard as i pass by.


The roses, begin their great work in silence and destitution. I cannot help but believe that deep inside they are dreaming of summer blossoms. What would the plants sound like if they would be given the gift of sound, vocalization, song?  Would they sing like the birds, hum like the crickets, croak? Or would it be some totally new form of sound? And then another thought, maybe they do make a sound and we just can’t hear it!  Maybe we are the ones lacking!!!

And I am reminded of this great quote:

“There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”

– Minnie Aumonier

Comings and Goings – Springtime Migration

DSC01697Lately I have found myself reading up about migratory birds.  I am reading Songbird Journeys by Miyoko Chu.I realized how little i knew about these little marvels who live in our woods. I learned that they migrate for thousands of miles each spring and autumn.  That they will fly over our homes by the thousands while we sleep unknowingly in our beds. That thought really got me.  These little souls flying tirelessly through the night while i sleep under my down comforter. 
DSC01700 How do they do it? I can barely find my way to the bathroom at night if our night light goes out. Scientists have spent millions of dollars and hours , and  more studying birds and their beautiful navigational ways. They have followed birds, on foot through the jungles, by helicopters, and land rovers. Night and day the scientists have followed these little wonders in order to discover the secret within their small frames.  I cannot help wondering if the birds have feathered creatures following the scientists to see why they are going all over the place.  The idea would make a great cartoon- Birds being studied by people who are being studied by birds


The researchers have come up with all sorts of theories and thoughts about just how these birds are capable of doing what we “smarter” creatures cannot. So these small wonders are mysteriously equipped with sensors in their eyes, noses and brains which enable them to detect and respond to the earth’s magnetic field.  I did not even remember what the earth’s magnet field is.

Are you ready to have it all become crystal clear?

Wikipedia says:
Earth’s magnetic field, also known as the geomagnetic field, is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth’s interior out into space, where it meets the solar wind, a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun.

I know that helps.



Songbird Journey’s (page 147)

” In addition to the sun,stars and magnetic fields and polarized light,birds probably use other cues to navigate. They can check their position against landmarks such as rivers and  mountain ranges.Pigeons are capable of smelling their way home…”  Really????

In our present culture it is hard to find someone who can even find their way to a destination without a GPS. These birds have got us beat!!!!! Can you imagine smelling your way home?



I have been using my paper collage as a way to think and meditate on the lessons of the birds. I am awed by their mysteries, their fortitude and their hidden talents. I am amazed by the intricate balance that guides them over thousands of miles each year. For me, these wonderful details continue to speak of an intelligent and loving Creator.  These birds didn’t think of this themselves!!!


Scheherazade and the Inner Workings of Plants

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I am often asked where I find my inspirations for my paper collages. I have to say that my themes come from many different and often unexpected places. I often find inspiration from nature, music, and  my reading.

Each winter, living on the edge of the woods, I find myself fascinated with the inner workings of winter plants. I look out the window and see all these trees, grasses, and shrubs stark, snow-covered, grey and bleak. They appear dead. Memories of their autumn splendor, spring time awakenings and summer abundance  run  through my mind. How can these vibrant plants just stand there, day and night for months, appearing dead and yet still carrying within them the spark of life? Against all evidence they are not dead.


This morning I turned on my Scheherazade CD and decided to read up on just what plants are doing in the winter. As the music began I found myself imaging the inner workings of plants set to music. What interesting ballets or concertos could be based on these themes. I  thought my horticultural reading would be uplifting and poetic. I imagined with the music in the background and the frozen grasses outside my window that I would be transported in some lyrical manner.


Unfortunately that did not happen. As I began to read i discovered words like tracheids, xylum, vernalization, extraorgan freezing, extracellular freezing, conduits, desiccation and freeze-thaw cycles. Not very inspiring I am afraid. Many words even my spell check did not approve of.


So I closed the book, turned Scheherazade up louder and went back to admiring the frozen swaying grasses. As I watch their winter dancing, I imagine a tiny flame of life deep within them held lovingly by the plant’s dreams of summer days to come. And I imagine them  as ballet dancers swaying gently to the evocative strains of Scheherazade.I lovingly pick up my scissors and papers and continue to collage my thoughts about the inner workings of plants  and I join the grasses in the music of the spheres.

Life on the COLORFUL Planet



Autumn and early winter are here among us in the woods of the Cuyahoga Valley. This is always a “heads up for beauty “time for me. The world suddenly (sometimes very suddenly) looks different, new and somehow wilder. Nature once again shows us just who is boss!

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This is a time of year that red, gold, yellow and burgundy finally show their stuff and have their say! We are simply spectators. We can do nothing to improve on this phenomenon. I marvel in the colors and every year I am surprised-like it has never happened before. The colors are so wonderful that I find myself transported. I am moved and changed. In considering this I realized how colors surround us and usually we ignore them and take them for granted. Nature and gardens are true showcases for color and we find great solace in them. Then I realized that the other planets in out system appear to be lifeless and without much color. This is a very deep mystery to me. What an awesome under-appreciated privilege to live on The COLORFUL PLANET!

Tending My Inner Garden in the Western Reserve

One of the greatest joys I find in my art is the privilege of working with so many wonderful wonderful colors.   I particularly enjoy working with metal gilding and acrylics paints together as they create colors that transform with the changing light of day. Colors are free, to be enjoyed without cost by the rich and the poor, the sick and the healthy, the old and the young… and everyone in between. I believe as though I am on a journey exploring the rivers and pathways of color.

In Autumn's Grip 1

Summertime-Nature’s Great Shout-Out

DSC_0599 copy    Somehow I have seen that being a collage artists has made me more aware of the simple beauties of everyday living.  Every where I go I see  fascinating textures, amazing colors, new and  intricate designs. This  flows over into my everyday living.  I see things I never saw before and experience life with a new attitude.

Summer always amazes me. In the woods, in our garden…..abundance of life and such a shout-out to the wonders of living.  Celebrations going on everywhere in the natural world.  All too often I find myself ignoring the party and getting wrapped up in work and concerns.  Summer is here, in-my-face, up close and personal, trying to get my attention..DSC00575 (3)Wake up  Helen and Celebrate !

Join the dance, sing to the music, get “carried away” with the grateful joys of living. Let a single flower amaze you and a whole field of them bowl you over!  Nature is free! It costs nothing to admire a tree, bush or running stream. If we are in good health or poor health, rich or poor, appreciated or not… we can still take joy in the loveliness around us.  No more excuses!
Tending My Inner Garden in the Western Reserve
 I am happy to say that I have had three of my paper collages accepted in the the Artists of Rubber City show at Summit Art Space.  On of them eve won an Honorable Mention! If you are in the area come and see them during the month of July or first week of August during the first  Saturday  Art Walk.


The Slow-Coming of Spring


 spring dreams

As I have mentioned before, living on the edge of the woods is an awesome education.

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Posed as we are now, on the edge of Spring, there are wonderful lessons to learn. This spring started early and then has been playing tug-of-war with winter for several weeks now. Its in the 60’s, its in the 20’s… the herons return and take up nesting and then the blizzards come again. The lesson I am taking from this is that nature works slowly. It is not an over-night, magical transformation into a Green and Pink loveliness. Spring is coming a daffodil at a time. Change and renewal are coming one bright green leaf at a time. We can be too busy to see the new green shoots or we can seek them and savor them.

This time of year, let us take lessons from the daffodils.


So I am thinking about how spring comes so slowly to the woods North East Ohio. I remember Mark Twain’s quote about spring:


In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.

Mark Twain


I am thinking about the coming of Spring if people were in charge. It would be a very different thing for sure. We would pick a date, hire a PR person, get a branding agent, select a CEO, organize committees, hire a designer, an attorney and a fund raiser. Plans drawn out, hours of meetings, discussions, emails, faxes, and blue prints. Then as the date approaches, late nights, pots of coffee, fast food, frayed nerves and neglected families.


Then, day and night, the frenzy builds until the eve of Spring is upon us. Extra workers, students, volunteers, migrants- every able bodied person.


Then on the first day of Spring we all wake up and


The leaves are out, the trees in full bloom, daffodils, tulips and crocus all blooming at the same time. Grass is bright and green, blue sky, nesting birds, hopping bunnies, butterflies flying across the skies. 70 degrees with just the right breeze to spread the smell of flowers and sweet grasses.. An over night transformation! This is what it would be like if we took the coming of Spring out of Nature’s Good Hands and let people do the job. I think I really prefer the slow approach and one daffodil at a time.

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Winter – A Season in Waiting.



Over the past few years I have discovered that Winter is an ideal time to create art. When I am forced to stay in is a wonderful time for me  to take an artistic journey. While the woods outside my window seem still and dead I find my creative juices going strong. Winter invites me to creativity in it’s own quiet way.  I find myself once again learning from both the Natural world and the world of Paper Collage.

Winter in Ohio this year has been like a difficult  eleven month pregnancy.  Nature is waiting, and we wait with it.  When will the snows come? The grasses and weeds stand waiting in the fields.  The bare trees stand  as waiting sentinels. The cold woods are  like a waiting room, filled to capacity with well-wishers and wonderers. When will the snows come?  




The old wait in concern and  dread: how “bad” will it be, will I survive?  The young wait with restless anticipation…will  there be enough  snow  to use my new sled: will the schools close? Those in the middle- wonder what  will the roads be like; and like the squirrels with their nuts and seeds set aside ,do we are have all the shovels, mittens, vitamins, salt, blankets, that we need?



Winter is a time of waiting and deepening.  A time to ponder, reflect and think.  This is Winter’s invitation to all of Nature and to us.  “Take a break”. “Take a chill pill.”  Now that Christmas is over i know that before long the Spring Garden catalogues will begin appearing in my mailbox.  From past years experience, I know as soon as I open the first  Spring Garden Magazine, I will close the book on Winter and  wait for the coming of Spring.


I will find myself dreaming of spring before I have learned all that Winter has to teach me. This year I resolve to try to stick with winter until it passes the baton to Spring. Until I hear Spring grasp the stick in its Merry hand and swiftly run on. Winter is a teacher with  millions of years of experience. Winter can teach us to let go and to not be afraid to be empty and barren. Winter has lessons about endurance and fortitude that any General would benefit from.  And Winter is an expert instructor about the Powerful Art of Waiting. The woods look dead, beyond hope and lifeless. But that is simply Winter’s great trick. Deep within the rivers, the fish sleep,  and the frogs dream. The trees are not dead lifeless things-within their walls the insects and animals are  refueling and remaking. The owls and turkeys perch in silence and the squirrels sleep and dream. The plants look dead, many cannot even be seen.  And yet  both deep within,  and barely beneath the surface, the triumphs and glories of the Spring are waiting and  and rehearsing for the Great Spring Extravaganza.












In the Sweet Company of Flowers


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Lately I have found myself often in the Company of Flowers. This spring and early summer here in the woods of Northeast Ohio we received the gift of a lot of rain. I Know some of my California relatives would be envious. That great rain was at times annoying but it has worked to produce a lovely summer here. A summer full of flowers. I am a true flower enthusiast and the daughter and granddaughter of true flower enthusiasts. I come by it honestly. My father never tired of flowers and at 93 he could still find himself amazed by their elegant, abundant beauty. I am making an effort to not take them and their lavish beauty for granted.



This summer I have had the honor of hosting these wonderful Annabelle Hydrangeas here in my garden by the woods this summer. I did very little to help them. A few minutes of trimming and fertilizing and I am rewarded with this spectacular display of floral beauty. I simply feel very blessed and privileged. To me its like the crown jewels. Their abundance makes me feel like royalty.

As I have been so surrounded by these lovely things I have found myself being philosophical about them. I think that these beauties are not just the result of random evolution. These marvelous creations could only come from the heart and mind of a loving creator. I am sure that the world could devise other ways to go on without the beauty of flowers. Flowers scream to us that we are loved and abundantly so.





In the spring I began to create collage flowers and found it a very exciting adventure. I have been privileged to have the enjoyment of using my painted and gilded papers to create some unique and lovely specimens. I have found insight and refreshment in the Sweet Company of Flowers


DSC00196Growing in My Dreams