Blue Coffee Pot


ARTIST: Helen Rietz
DIMENSIONS: 12" x 16"
MEDIUM: watercolor


Rietz’s style presents technical challenges because watercolor is unforgiving; unlike other mediums, it doesn’t allow you to erase or paint over a mistake.   She works with a plan, but if the unexpected happens, she has to be open to new possibilities and serendipity. Rietz’s audience is often surprised to learn it is watercolor because it is vivid, detailed, and realistic.  She hopes she is bringing something new to her subject matter, and to the watercolor medium.

While her painting style has remained consistent, her subject matter has evolved.   With each passing year, she has become more intrigued by the history of her home region and the traces left by those who settled the land or live there still.   “All around me there are ranchers whose families are three, four, or even five generations on their land.   Their barns and homesteads, rusting tractors and tools give character to the landscape.  And there are ghost towns, where people came, maybe thrived, maybe failed, but ultimately moved on.  All this is part of the spirit of the West that I want to capture so that it never completely disappears.”

Rietz is a dedicated painter who works in her studio nearly every day.   It’s fashionable to say you paint plein aire, she says, but she doesn’t.  Her style is too intricate and intense to finish a work one afternoon in a field, she says.  Many of her paintings take a week or more to complete. Rietz does, though, sketch in the field and takes hundreds of photographs to use for inspiration.    Every painting is based on her personal experience and the emotion it evoked.