Every time we put pencil to paper, ink to plate, or hand to press, we learn something. Art tests our ideas, our creativity, our skills. Art nurtures our work ethic, our confidence, our generosity. When we start making art, we start a journey of self discovery.

Here at Bend Art Center, artists of all levels can learn and make art in the A6 Print Studio. On any given day, experienced printmakers and  total beginners may be sharing a table and sharing ideas. Over the years, scores of artists have walked through our doors and experienced something life-changing. Just ask Helen. 

Photos by Milly and Ross Photography

Sparking a creative journey.

Soon to be empty-nesters, Helen Loeffler and a girlfriend were looking for something new to fill their days. On a whim, the two women signed up for a printmaking workshop in our studio. Helen’s interest was piqued. But her decision to step up and join as an artist member was sparked by one of our exhibits.

The M.C. Escher exhibit in the spring of 2014 was amazing,” Helen recalls. “I was so inspired by the art. And there was so much energy in the gallery—and in the studio—around that show. I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

At first, Helen felt too unsure of herself to work in the studio alone. “I had zero formal training in art. I had never used a press. I just felt really timid,” she says. Helen began taking workshop after workshop to build her skills and lay a foundation. And all along the way, studio members were there to help. 

“Everyone in the studio has been so generous with their knowledge,” Helen explains. “They accept you where you are in your journey, and they help you along.”

Electro etch print by Helen Loeffler.

A woman on fire.

After two years of taking workshops and learning “everything I could” about printmaking, Helen’s confidence was growing. Then she discovered electro-etch last year, and a light bulb went off.

“I absolutely love this process,” Helen laughs. “So now I’ve started to narrow my focus. After trying so many different things, I’m enjoying diving deeper into this particular form of printmaking.” 

Helen works with an even greater intensity now. Her enthusiasm for the studio burns brighter than ever, and she is excited to share her process with others. Helen is a woman on fire.

The day she became an artist.

Helen is only half-joking when she says she knows the secret to making great art. “Time,” she says.”You have to put in the time.” 

That realization galvanized Helen to set a schedule this year. Every morning, she hits the studio and gives time to her art. “Even when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I made myself come in,” she explains. “If I couldn’t figure out something to draw, I worked on calligraphy to keep my hand moving.”

Helen has had some exciting milestones in her creative journey. Her art has been juried into several exhibits. This summer and fall, she began teaching electro-etch to studio members and students of Cascades Academy. But when did she finally begin to think of herself as an artist?

“When I started coming to the studio everyday, that’s when I became an artist,” she answers. “And I wouldn’t be the artist I am without Bend Art Center and the artists who call this place home.”

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