Helen O’Donnell grew up on Mount Desert Island, Maine and received her B.A. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. During her junior year of college she studied in Florence, Italy where she took an intensive printmaking class at the renowned Il Bisonte Print Shop, studying under Swietlan Kraczyna. Helen was taken with the process of etching and after working for a year in Italy she returned to Bates to pursue her senior thesis work in printmaking. Following graduation, she moved to Bellingham, Washington to begin her career in both art and gardening. In 2006, Helen returned to Il Bisonte for a month long workshop with a group of Northwest Printmakers, headed by Thomas Wood. In November 2007 she moved to Brattleboro, Vermont and opened a print studio, with Briony Morrow-Cribbs, called Twin Vixen Press.
Helen currently spends her summers gardening in Vermont and New Hampshire and her winters working in her studio. She also teaches printmaking at The Putney School and in her own studio.
Twin Vixen Press is an intaglio based print studio and is equipped with a Griffin etching press and a Polymetaal Aquatint Rosin Dust Box. Briony and Helen teach weekend printmaking workshops in their studio and offer Open Studio classes for other printmakers. Helen and Briony offer printing and design services to other artists. The studio space and press are available for rent.
Helen’s work is deeply inspired by the natural environments that surround the beautiful places where she has lived. Having grown up on the coast of Maine, the spaces where the land meets the sea and where the sea meets the sky, are inspiring wavering horizons. The enormous mountains of the Pacific Northwest are dynamic and implausible. The buildings, roads, and hillsides of Italy and the green pastures and raging brooks of Vermont are astonishingly beautiful. These places are creative platforms for the imagination, a jumping off place into the unseen and unknown.
In all of these places, Helen has gardened, working with her hands in the earth, witnessing the seasonal life cycles of her environment. Helen is interested in the shapes and forms that each plant takes, as it pokes its head from the wet cold spring earth to the dried and faded seed head bending in the fall wind. Her fascination with these changes in form, come across in the movement and energy of her broad shapes and scratchy lines that make up her imagery.
Helen begins by making abstract lines and shapes that arise intuitively from her working and living experiences. By layering plates and printing them in different colors, the abstract lines and shapes begin to take form and sit in a landscape. The resulting landscapes are cinematic and anthropomorphic, challenging the viewer to re-imagine nature as a dynamic, energetic process, rather than a static and fixed entity. Her work lives and breathes on the horizon, between lightness and darkness, the visible and the invisible, the known and the unknown.
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine
Bachelor of Arts Degree, June 2004
Major: Studio Art
Sarah Lawrence College Florence, Italy (fall 2003- spring 2004)
Completed one year in Intaglio Printmaking, Art History, and Italian Language
Pacific Northwest Printmakers Florence, Italy April 2006
Traveled with a group of Northwest printmakers to work at the Il Bisonte Print studio in Florence. Participated in an engraving workshop and learned the technique of multiple plate color printing.
Through the Music Gallery “Fire and Ice” Brattleboro, Vermont December
Work on Paper Bellow’s Falls Vermont June
Two Rivers Print Studio Momenta II White River Junction, Vermont
Thorne- Sagendorph Art Gallery Biennial Regional Jurors Choice Competition Keene, New Hampshire
Gatto Nero Press Vermont Printmakers St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Through the Music Gallery Brattleboro, Vermont
Amy’s Bakery & Art’s Café Brattleboro, Vermont December
Dianich Gallery Brattleboro, Vermont Sept- October
Lucia Douglas Print Show Bellingham, Washington Summer
Studio Place Arts Barre, Vermont June- July
Amy’s Bakery & Arts Café Brattleboro, Vermont
Langdon Street Café Montpelier, Vermont
Pacific Northwest Printmakers in Florence Lucia Douglas Gallery, Bellingham, Washington August 2006
Pacific Northwest Printmakers Il Bisonte Gallery, Florence Italy April 2006
Paintings and Prints Public Market Bellingham, Washington December 2005
Gallery Walk and Open Studio Bellingham, Washington 2005-2007
Senior Thesis Exhibit Bates College Museum, Lewiston, Maine May 2004