Tracy Helgeson was born in Minnesota in 1964. She attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1983 where she majored in Graphic Design. Tracy went on to attend the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), concentrating on illustration techniques. Philadelphia was of great influence on Tracy. Iit was there that her work began to take on a unique style and Tracy learned the under painting and glazing techniques that distinguish her current work. Beginning in 1988, Tracy worked as a graphic designer and freelance illustrator. In 1998, after moving to Utah, Tracy served as the Visual Arts Director and then President of the Board of Directors at the Alliance for the Varied Arts in Logan, Utah. While involved in this arts organization Tracy progressed from graphics and illustration to painting in oils. In 2003, Tracy and her family moved to upstate New York where she has been greatly inspired by the natural beauty surrounding her farmhouse home. Her paintings reflect this rural landscape of valleys and old barns, combined with a passionate palette.
Tracy uses a combination of transparent and opaque layers of paint to create a sense of luminosity and visual glow. Large areas of pure color much define the simplified forms of structure, land, and tree. However, closer inspection reveals many subtleties and variations within the color field. Pink is never just pink, green is never just green. Fiery orange and reds may be undercurrents, while deep blues and greens are subtle overtones. Tracy is entranced by the texture of the surfaces she prepares, the softness of the brush, the smell of the paint, the color of the under painting and the excitement of laying down each subsequent layer of color. Each painting is a sensory experience for both Tracy and the viewer.
In creating a painting, my intent is to capture an evocative feeling and an essence of the landscape that I feel a connection to. The spaces and scenes that I choose usually have a basis in reality which ancors the composition. However, I often alter relationships, color, and light to more accurately express my feelings about how and what I see. In my work, I explore the relationships between reality and abstraction. These paintings may tease the viewer, only hinting at a background, or may allow the background to become the focus. Man-made structures, especially barns, continue to interest me as I strive to simplify their form while keeping their personalities intact. I feel these expressive qualities in my work are the result of a personal sense of color and under painting applications. The colors of nature surround me and move me when I paint and I strive to portray them with a sense of intrigue and passion.
Tracy Helgeson's work has been featured in 15 shows across the East Coast this year alone. Her 2007 schedule includes a solo show at The Harrison Gallery in January. Her growing representation and recognition reflects the qualities Tracy brings to her painting.