Susan L. Helwig

Artist's Basement

Sorry about the stairs. Watch your step. The landlord's always promising a light and new treads. Yeah, right! Here we are. Might just as well start with this one.


Driver napping on a park bench while his passengers wait on the curb. One breaks rank to walk towards the railway underpass off in the distance

Definitely an east-end painting. The railway pass is a dead give-away. Somebody once complained, the guys in your paintings are always asleep. You know something? He's right.

Here's an interesting one:


Sunlight through grimy Plexiglas onto multi-coloured Japanese parasols; one diner below in the restaurant

Bit of a departure for me, really. Doesn't take long for a style to paint you into the proverbial corner. I say, so what!

Nice contrast, though, all those umbrellas and then one plate, one knife, one fork, well, you get the picture.


This one, well, that's certainly Post-coital Languor, that's what I should call it. Had a lot of trouble with the face. Once I start socializing with my models, only the torso comes out looking human, the rest is just, I don't know, abstract.


Le Baiser
A kiss, but ambivalent, as if it's a sibling and you shouldn't. A French title can hide a multitude of sins. Again, not much of a face on anybody. You know, I read somewhere that Hitler didn't get into Art School because he couldn't paint heads. Now that's scary!


This one I like to call Accident, or maybe even Still Life with Dog. See the bits of broken glass and just a hint of blood in the corner-sort of, like, seeping into the picture-or seeping out, you could say, depending on your point of view.

The dog? Well, that may be a tail in the other corner. Or a nose. Sometimes I think I've run out of ideas. I'll never paint again. People say, do anything, paint a light bulb and a light switch. They just don't get it. That's not painting at all, that's copying down, that's rhyming off or something. Easy for poets, you listen to those voices all day; it's automatic writing. Stand over the page and let the words drop, splat, wherever they fall, that's the poem right there. Call it Light Bulb & Switch. Paint a cage around the bulb and call it Interrogation. Now we're getting somewhere!


A letter spasms on the tracks in the wind and the rain; a crowd looks on in horror as someone tries to grab it, oblivious of the angry red streetcar hurtling in

If I had to pick a favourite, this would be it. Why, I'm not sure. Undefined heads and hands on the human figures again. Signs of childhood abuse? You decide.


When you first see this one, you might say, it's just a black wash, it's the middle of the night, where's the relaxation music and toothache I fell asleep with, but look closely, there's a little kidney bean brain-dot in the upper right. This could grow into something large and impressive. One would hope.

(nervous laughter) Well, that's it, folks. I guess you've got a few more stops to make this evening. Hang on. I'll see you out. Those stairs are a bitch.


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