The Jetty Gallery

The Jetty Gallery

Helen Robertson

Helen L Robertson was born in Cumbria and grew up in West Lothian.

After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1987, with a BA Honours Degree in Glass Design, she spent the following year at the Royal College of Art in London.

Helen moved to Glenshiel in 1988 and set up a small business in 1990, called Shadows and Light, painting with enamels onto several sheets of glass to produce a three dimensional painting. 

Throughout this time and her college years Helen also continued to draw and paint, producing artwork, mainly using mixed media. 

For the past 24 years she has worked purely with soft pastels on an artists archival sandpaper.  She still loves the instant impact and textural qualities of pastel, building up her paintings in layers of colour, giving them a sense of depth and luminosity.

Helen’s present work sees her shift from working solely with pure pastel to experimenting with mixed media. The paintings begin with washes of watercolour and acrylic inks, splattered onto the paper giving a dynamic, expressive feel. Once dry, she uses soft pastel to build up detail in the figure or rocks, contrasting with the looser, sketchier background areas.

The landscapes are painted outside amongst the crashing waves and changing light, so she works quickly to capture the scene. Her figurative work is created in her studio, after taking photographs of her models in situ. Her ideas of combining stripes, patterns and spots with the figure give a dreamlike quality to her paintings. Her models are her daughter Hannah and her friends Isabel and Eilish.

Her figures are always facing away from the viewer. This anonymous approach is more appealing than a portrait because it allows the viewer to have their own take on the image. Her paintings re-awaken nostalgic thoughts and feelings of memorable times.

"Like many artists before me, I have several recurring themes. I keep returning to favourite places; Sandaig, near Glenelg, Ord and Knock Bay in South Skye. The more often I paint these places, the more familiar and accomplished, I feel my paintings become. I also really enjoy painting my daughter Hannah, who over the years has slowly come to enjoy being the subject of my paintings.”

Over the years Helen and her family have explored the Highlands and many of the Outer Isles.

Absorbing the atmosphere by sketching and taking many photographs, I then recreate these feelings in my finished pastel paintings back in my studio.”

Admirers of her work have often commented on how the paintings make them feel transported to that place.