Toronto Tuesdays: Helaine Becker

Today I’m happy to host multi-talented Helaine Becker. Helaine is the author of 100+ books (no, that’s not a typo) and is a fabulous visual artist as well. To say she is motivated and prolific is definitely an understatement. Thanks for participating Helaine! Welcome!

What’s your favourite creative medium? What draws you to expressing yourself this way?

Pixels! I write using a word processor, and paint digitally, so I love love love the pixel. I love it because I can create more, and more easily than with a pencil or pen. I do paint and draw by hand too, especially if I’m making miniatures or sets for stop mo animation. But my go to is always my PC.

What inspires you to create? 

I don’t actually know. I can’t not. I imagine something, and I want to make it real. I’ve always been like this, an exploding fountain of ideas. I’ve been told it can be a bit overwhelming to others, lol. 

What, or who, is your greatest creative influence?

Probably my dad, who was self-taught in many, many areas, from cartooning to gardening to sculpture and coding. He taught me to not be afraid of trying something new, and to embrace projects with a sense of adventure and whimsy. 

I’m also inspired by all the other greats whose books I’ve read or whose paintings I’ve swooned over. On the art side, I’m a huge fan of all the Expressionists. I’m all about colour.

What is your favourite time of day to create?

You mean there are parts of the day that aren’t conducive? Didn’t realize….

Given that, I’m often up very very late, painting. And I write in my head at night, and then write the words down the next day. 

Which of your creations is your personal favourite, and why?

Argh that’s like choosing a fave child! I’ve picked The Ode To Underwear, though, because it tells you everything you need to know about me. 

How do you deal with creative slumps?

I don’t know if I’ve ever had one. But maybe I avoid it by working in many different genres (fiction, nonfiction, graphic, humor, science, etc.) or by switching between different media (painting, writing, clay, 3D print design, etc.)

Who are you beyond your art? Give us three insider facts about you.

I love flowers, pizza, ice cream, beaches and snorkeling, fluffy dogs. 

I am a certified pyrotechnician, meaning I can set up and launch fireworks. I don’t do it, though, because I am also a certified klutz.

My husband and I are serious travellers. We’ve been to some pretty exotic places and done cool things like swim with piranhas and penguins (not together, of course!), hiked up an active volcano in the dark, without a flashlight,  and hung out with orangutans in Borneo.

What’s one of the best – or most memorable – questions you’ve ever been asked, and how did you answer it?

Kids are great for asking surprising questions, and as a children’s book author, I frequently go to schools so have heard some doozies! My fave might be the smart alec who asked me, apropos of nothing, “What is the Theory of Relativity anyway?”  And to his chagrin, he got the full answer, complete with demonstration. 

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your work?

Most of my 100 or so books are available at your favourite bricks and mortar or online bookstore.

My paintings can be purchased directly from me through my website, I can create custom archival prints on paper, or produce work in any size on either canvas or acrylic. You can also see them at various in-person and online shows, including the North Toronto Group of Artists Show and Sale  September 10-11.

Thanks so much, Helaine!

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