Discovering Helena’s creativity

Published 1:31 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I have recently had conversations with two Helena artists that reveal unique individual approaches to expressing themselves with paint, and sometimes with a brush.

Deb Paradise is a transplant from Atlanta, where, for 15 years, she taught workshops and private classes to individuals wishing to explore an inner healing journey. Her Transformational Painting class is not about techniques, but rather what she calls, “A visual journey of discovery, with the end result meaningful only to the traveler.”

In transformational painting, students may forgo the brush or palette knife and immerse themselves in the paint with their hands or feet. The surface may not be a tidy canvas, but instead a long roll of Kraft paper or wallpaper, newspaper or scraps of paper.

This class is about the process of creativity and acting upon the fertile moment when a spark ignites the source of creation within and leads to transformation and change in daily perceptions and life. It is an opportunity to address and move past fears, barriers, rules or programming that hold you back from expressing your most authentic self.

Since moving to Alabama, I have become aware of a branch of the art movement that I consider somewhat unique to the Birmingham area. I was very intrigued to meet artist Phyllis Thomas Gibson and learn that she is certainly one of, if not the originator of, the angel motif so popular in area galleries and shows.

Phyllis says she is “always looking within to reflect and express peace” in both her canvas and clay work. Her expressive figural paintings have become more abstract recently, although the ethereal figures still have an area recognizable as a face.

One thematic interest that she paints, as well as collects, is nativity scenes. She has begun a 6×6 inch series of mini-canvases, still exuberantly detailed.

Phyllis may be contacted through Artists Inc. at 979-8990. Paradise may be reached at 424-0999 and her current work in clay may be viewed at

Both Paradise and Gibson work by commission, as well as exhibiting at Four Seasons Antiques, Art and Botanicals.

If you are an artist of any medium working in the Helena area, I would like to be introduced to your work. You can contact me at: