November 10, 2021 – Following Up with Helen Frankenthaler’s “How to Be an Artist” via Alexxa Gotthardt at #Artsy

Helen Frankenthaler on How to Be an Artist via Artsy
Helen Frankenthaler on How to Be an Artist via Artsy

Yesterday’s reblog/review, also via Artsy, but by a different author, went into a indepth look at how the art market has been responding to Helen Frankenthaler’s work for nearly 3/4s of a century now.

Along the way, I found the article’s included informational description of her creative process the most interesting to me.

Artsy, it turn’s out, has a series of articles featuring various artists speaking about their creative process, and finding one on Helen is an extra treat!

The writer, Alexxa Gotthardt, describes Helen’s work thus, “The fields of paint that populated her work seemed to float, thrum, and merge ethereally, rather than crash and explode like those of Pollock or Willem de Kooning.”

I mostly agree, and, generally, prefer that style myself 😊

Here’s a few excerpts from the article —

In 1998, at the age of nearly 70, Frankenthaler summed up her artistic motivations: “taking risks, being surprised, experimenting, wanting to push painting further….” —

Time and again, she pointed to the importance of experimentation in driving her innovative practice.

Helen goes into some nice detail about what risks, being surprised and experimenting was for her.

In another section, I found this (also much elaborated within the article) —

Often prompts were straightforward, inspired by a painting that grabbed her….

Nature, too, offered initial inspiration: “When I am in pursuit of ‘a place to go’ from where I am, I often go back to nature, the figure, or still-life in order to trigger a leap into the unknown.”

I like that the two articles I’ve read so far about Helen on Artsy each have a photo of her working, plus images of her work —

Helen Frankenthaler on How to Be an Artist via Artsy
Image – Tahiti 1989
Helen Frankenthaler on How to Be an Artist via Artsy

And regarding a painting with mistakes (something that really spoke to me, lol!) —

“Sometimes you can dig in again and retrieve the painting and make it something else. Then it acquires another kind of spontaneity,” she explained. “It becomes a more worked-into or scrubbed surface, often darker, more dense. You have salvaged its essence.”

Another thing I liked about this article are the numerous mentions where Helen gave credit to other artists for her inspirations or ideas. This included Matisse, Titian, and even (among many more mentioned) Monet!

Sections within the article are broken down into –

  • Lesson #1: Try everything and experiment often
  • Lesson #2: Give yourself prompts, but don’t become married to them
  • Lesson #3: Approach color expansively
  • Lesson #4: Let mistakes lead to invention

I think I’ve been making use of Lesson #4 the most lately, lol!


Final thoughts
I couldn’t find a tag or link for the other articles along this same line, but lots of artists are featured in their “Related Stories” and “Further reading in Creativity” sections top right and bottom of each article, including Rothko, de Kooning and Georgia O’Keeffe.

I’m very much looking forward to browsing through those also 😊


My series of reblogs can be browsed at –


Thanks so much! Stay curious, stay creative everyone!!


Direct link to my watercolor abstract with figure, Fantasy Walk, blog post above 😊

Direct link to blog post in tweet above, Impressionist Art of Seeing and Being Seen 😊

My Related Blog Posts


My Related Amazon Affiliate Search Products

My Amazon search for Helen Frankenthaler —

Direct link to Ninth Street Women above on Amazon –

Twitter / Instagram / FB @FelipeAdanLerma
Amazon Author Page –
Fine Art America (FAA, Pixels) –


    • You’re welcome, Tiffany! It’s a surprise to me how approachable she seems to be as a person; I hardly knew anything about her, actually none to be honest, and so glad I’m learning about her. And yes, I did think of you and your process you’ve written about when I heard her describe her creative processes. She sure made me feel a lot better ’bout my own, lol! 😊


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