Criticism from a teacher was all Bayside resident Helaine Soller needed to encourage her to work on perfecting her art skills and going on to pursue art her entire life.
When she was just a child, Soller was upset by the teacher’s criticism. Her mother thought it would be good for her to take art lessons to improve, and she has been studying ever since.
Throughout her schooling, Soller said that she was very encouraged to continue with her art. While at Bayside High School she took specialized art classes and also went on to study at the Pratt Institute and the New School.
Soller went into advertising design and formerly worked as an art director at a publishing company. She now is working full-time on her art and opened a solo exhibition, “Paintings of Water Environments,” on July 8 at the Tower 49 lobby gallery in Manhattan.
Prior to this, Soller has had many other solo exhibits and has also participated in group shows.
“I do narrative, figurative painting based on leisure activities and the inspiration is upstate New York and beaches of Long Island,” Soller said. “What I’m trying to say is the interrelationship of people through these activities.”
For the most part, Soller does landscape paintings, sketching at the beach, Bronx Botanical Garden or other places she goes. She said the trips are part of her daily life and described her work as being autobiographical in a way.
“They draw me in to the beauty and dynamics of the environment,” said Soller, who paints mostly in acrylics.
Soller’s exhibition “Paintings of Water Environments” focuses on lotus ponds, water plants and koi fish. The exhibit includes seven pieces displayed in 85 feet of wall space.
While in Manhattan one day, Soller was walking past Tower 49 and fell in love with the exhibition space, particularly because of the light and unbroken wall space it offered. She said that she feels that because of the show’s size and scope it will be a real breakthrough for her.
“I’m usually my own worst critic and I felt so good about this,” she said of the show. “It’s remarkable.”
Tower 49 is located at 12 East 49th Street. The exhibition will be on display through November 13 and can be seen Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Soller is now focusing on developing her career even further. She is the recipient of a 2008 Individual Artist Initiative, which was given by the Queens Council on the Arts and funded by NEA and the JP Morgan Chance Foundation.
With her work, Soller said that she hopes to bring good feelings to others where there is so much harshness and negativity in the world. She also said that nature can be uplifting to the spirit.
For more information on Soller and her work, visit www.helainesoller.com.