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Work Samples

Harriet Tubman c Kristin Helberg 2012.JPG

Harriet Tubman on her path to freedom
Harriet Tubman c Kristin Helberg 2012

Grandma Moses c Kristin Helberg 1996.JPG

Portrait of Grandma Moses with vinegar grained frame
Grandma Moses was acquired by National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian 2011

Bill and Elvis c Kristin Helberg 2003.JPG

Painting to Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley playing music together
Bill and Elvis acquired by Clinton Presidential Library for permanent collection 2003

Cone Fish in FIsh out of Water.JPG

6 foot fiberglass fish painted with designs by Matissse
Conefish inspired by Matisse for Fish Out of Water. Sold for $22,500 at auction at Walters Art Gallery 2001.


About Kristin

Baltimore County

Kristin Helberg makes her home and studio in the Rodgers Forge area of Towson. Part of the artist in education program with the Maryland State Arts Council for 20 years, she has worked with schoolchildren to create 80 permanent murals in Maryland. Eight of those murals are located in Baltimore City Schools. In 2001, Ms. Helberg was chosen to participate in the Fish Out of Water project in Baltimore. Her fish entitled Conefish, received the highest bid of $22,500 during the art auction at the... more

Flying Dreams

I fly in my dreams and those dreams give me ideas for my paintings.

  • High Hopes

    acrylics on canvas 22"x 26" Copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 High hopes for the first family and for all of us.
  • Gospel Music Makes Me Fly

    Acrylics on Gesso Board 19" x 19" Copyright Kristin Helberg 2004 Giogio Ubaldi saw my painting on line when he was recording American Gospel music with his Jazz Choir of Milan, Italy and had me create a new square version of the painting to be used for the CD cover. They named the album Gospel Music Makes Me Fly. I often listen to Gospel music as I work and fly in my studio.
  • To Rise Above

    Oil on Canvas 28' x 38' Copyright Kristin Helberg 2010 I have always had a great admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson. Both women were able to rise above attitudes about race and women's rights that existed during their generation. My painting celebrates the wonderful concert Ms. Anderson gave at the Lincoln Memorial by invitation of Mrs. Roosevelt.
  • Spring Aviators

    Oil on canvas 24' x36" copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 Spring in the Blue Ridge mountians can make you fly.
  • I'll Fly Away

    Acrylics on canvas 30" x 54" copyright Kristin Helberg 2010 The sweet old gospel song, I'll Fly Away inspired his painting. Part of my childhood was spent in the deep south in El Dorado, Arkansas. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 was such a horror that I spent years sorting out just how I would paint it. I decided the four little girls would always be soaring like doves while the men who hated would always be chained down and their hearts could never fly.


I enjoy making portraits of people who have inspired me.

  • Grandma Moses on display.JPG

    Grandma Moses on display with my friend Lilly
    My friend Lilly admiring my portrait of Grandma Moses at the National Portrait Gallery in 2012.
  • Grandma Moses c Kristin Helberg 1996

    Portrait of Grandma Moses with vinegar grained frame
    This portrait was acquired in 2011 by the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institurion to become part of their permanent collection. It is the only painted portrait of Grandma Moses in their collection.
  • The Devil and Andrei Codrescu.jpg

    Andrei Codrescu enjoys an evening with the Devil
    In 2004 I was commissioned by Andrei to create a portrait for him. Acrylic on gesso board.
  • Edgar Allan Poe c Kristin Helberg 2012

    A portrait of Poe with his Baltimore rowhouse in the distance 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas
  • Robert Johnson

    Acrylics on canvas 24" x 36' copyright Kristin Helberg 1999 Here he is at Delta crossroad for his famous pact with the devil. Best blues man ever.
  • Go Down Moses c Kristin Helberg 2012

    Portrait of Harriet Tubman 24" x 24" acrylic on canvas
  • Romare Bearden

    Acryliccs on gesso board/collage 18" x 22" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 I had great fun making this portrait using the famous photo of Romare with his cat and creating my own "Romare Bearden" collage hanging on the wall in the background.
  • Bill and Elvis.jpg

    Bill Clinton and Elvis play music together
    I had this painting at a gallery in Hilton Head. The owner of the gallery, Joe Adams was part of Bill Clinton's art advisory committee. When they showed it to Bill, he chose if for the permanent collection of his presidential library in Little Rock Arkansas in 2004.

Abstract and semi abstract paintings

For many years I have been known for paintings full of detail and color.

Several years ago, I began a series of abstract paintings that celebrate color without being figurative.

I had a solo show of my abstracts in the atrium lobby at NIH in Bethesda in October/November of 2016.

  • Parallel Universe.jpg

    Two possible parallel worlds
    The more I look at things, there seems to be a universe within a universe. Oil on canvas
  • Petroglyph. jpg

    Petroglyph from Newspaper Rock
    A study from some of the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock. acrylic on canvas
  • Clouds.jpg

    Swirling clouds above bright orange hills
    Clouds was inspired by staring up in the sky from a vast rual landscape and watching the clouds swirl around.
  • Autumn.JPG

    Brightly colored and abstracted trees.
    Bright stark trees weaving a tapestry. I am of Finnish origin. Upon completion of this painting, I felt like I had touched something from way back. There is a clean design feel to this painting I think
  • Inception.JPG

    Bright explosions of life on a vast, black background
    The mystery of the beginnings of all things. An explosion of life. Oil on canvas. Vinegar grained frame.
  • MAP.jpg

    A large mystical map with turquoise water
    I love looking at maps and staring out the window when I am in an airplane to see the colorful pattern below. Rather like some big patchwork quilt.
  • Dark Star.JPG

    Dark Stars floating on a universe of white
    When I painted Dark Star, I wanted the stars to be against an infinite universe of white instead of black

Whimsical and commentary

Some scenes I'd like to see that give me a chuckle and paintings that are commentary.

  • A Love for Van Gogh

    acrylics on canvas 22" x 28" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 Poor Van Gogh, all he wanted was someone to love him. I sent her to him.
  • The Queen of England Meets the King of Beers

    acrylics on gesso board 12" x 12" copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 I just couldn't resist putting a Bud in Queen Vicky's hand.
  • Alien Invasion.JPG

    Aliens crash during Cave Man era
    This is what happens to you when you watch too many episodes of Ancient Aliens. I had fun mixing up the cave art with the Greys......
  • Love During the Time of Aids

    acrylics on canvas 20" x 25" copyright Kristin Helberg 1997 I lost three good friends in the art world in New York and Washington, DC to AIDS in the late 1990's. This is how it felt.
  • The whale's revente

    acrylics on gesso board 12" x 14" copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 I love reading the books about Nantucket and New Bedford whaling. Finally the whale gets his revenge.
  • Sigmund Freud on New Year's Eve

    acrylics on gesso board 10" x 12" copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 Lighten up Siggie!
  • J. Edgar Hoover

    Acrylics on gesso board 20" x 25" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 Mr. Hoover did lots of damage during his reign at the FBI and it was pay back time.
  • Bill and Elvis

    acrylics on canvas 24" x 28" copyright Kristin Helberg 2003 President Clinton choose this painting for the permanent collection in his Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. I knew he loved Elvis so decided they should be playing music together.

Vinegar Grained Boxes

About 25 years ago, I wanted to learn the early American craft of vinegar graining so that I could use it on frames for my paintings. This is an old art of taking wood that did not have an interesting grain or color such as poplar or pine and by using painted base coats and textured vinegar glazing on top, creating exotic and interesting patterns.

I spent several days working with a antiques restoration firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to learn the very basic formulas and patterns. Not only did I use the technique for my frames but began graining small boxes and old chests. My grained boxes are sold in the gift shop of the National Archives Museum in Washington and the New York Historical Society Museum gift shop.

Since vinegar graining is not widely taught, I decided to offer a course at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. three years ago. Each summer I take 8 students and they learn the formulas and technique in my week long class.

  • Fantasy graining

    Early American vinegar grained box
    Although the pattern and colors look very contemporary, it was taken from a chest in a museum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • Grained jewelry boxes

    A grouping of grained boxes by Kristin Helberg
    Graining in burnt sienna, green and red. The tree detail is a nod to the famous Early American limner, Rufus Porter
  • Fraktur Boxes.jpg

    Fraktur bird boxes inspired by PA Dutch artwork
    Fraktur was the PA Dutch art used on birth certificates, marriage licenses and house blessings. Birds were featured on many of the frakturs. I love to put them on boxes and chests. Having spent my childhood around York, PA I was very familiar with the fraktur art and vinegar graining.
  • Graining sample boards

    Sample boards showing the vast variety of Early American Vinegar graining patterns
    A variety of graining patterns and colors.
  • Grey Ship Box.jpg

    Jewelry box with whaling scene and grained panel
    Vinegar grained panel on large jewelry box with image of old whaling ship.
  • Carolina Wren Chest.JPG

    Jewelry box with grained panel and Wren portrait
    A large jewelry box with a grained panel and vignette of a Carolina Wren.

Ndebele Village Mural

The 5th, 6th and 7th grades at Harlem Park Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore, studied the Ndebele tribe of Africa and their famous mud huts. During the 20 day artist in residency, we created a 4' x 8' mural depicting life in an Ndebele village with a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.

I worked with the younger grades creating painted chicken portraits, paper models of the mud huts and paper necklaces inspired by Ndebele jewelry.

  • Ndebele mural

    Harlem Park girls work on painted mud huts
  • Ndebele Village Mural.jpg

    Colorful painted mud huts in an Ndebele Village
    I worked with the students to create a mural showing the magical painted mud huts created by the Ndebele tribe in Africa.
  • Ndebele jewelry created by first grade

    Paper necklaces inspired by Ndebele jewelry
    Paper necklaces inspired by Ndebele jewelry. The first grade students created them and then wore them for a fashion show for the principal during our mural party
  • Two boys at work.jpg

    The color and beauty of the village provided a wonderful subject for our mural.
  • Ndebele mural

    Child running in an Ndebele village scene.
    This is a close up of part of the Ndebele mural project. The children looked at photographs of and acutal Ndebele village and village life to make their drawings. This was a month long project sponsored by a grant from the school and the Maryland state arts council.
  • At work on mural.jpg

    Student at work on the mural
    The children each drew and painted several images on the mural. We used photographs from Ndebele villages and the tribes.
  • Mural detail

    Close up of painted mud gates. The students loved to create the intricate patterns on the huts.
  • Paper models of painted huts

    Paper models of the painted mud huts made by fourth grade at Harlem Park
    The fourth grade studied the painted mud huts and made paper models.

Baltimore city scenes

I love watching the life on the busy streets around me and I try to capture that life on canvas.

  • Drug Dealer

    Drug dealer as vampire on city streets
    Acrylics on Canvas 27" x 40" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 Drug dealers are like vampires, sucking the life out of a neighborhood. We all had to work together for several years to shut down the drug dealer corner on our block.
  • Alley Street Summer

    Life on alley streets in Fells Point
    acrylics on canvas 11" x 14" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 The little alley streets are full of life in the summer. They are closed off for block parties and years ago, neighbors would sit out on the steps to watch Orioles games on old tv sets.
  • Blizzard in Baltimore

    A child skis down a city street during a snow storm
    acrylics on gesso 12" x 14" copyright Kristin Helberg 2000 We had a series of big winter storms in Baltimore and I watched children skiing and sledding down Washington Street. I added some parking meters to make it really look urban.
  • Baltimore Alley Street

    Children play in plastic pools on alley street in Fells Point
    Acrylics on Canvas 36" x 48 copyright Kristin Helberg 2009 A visual collage of many alley events.
  • Stoop Talk

    Neighbors hang out on front steps on Fells Point alley street
    acrylics on gesso board 12" x 14" copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 Nothing better than to be on your front stoop in the nice weather.
  • The Arabber

     Baltimore Arabber sells his produce on a Fells Point Street
    Acrylics on gesso 12" x 14" Copyright Kristin Helberg 2008 You can hear him call, as he comes down the street with his wagon. This painting was acquired by the University of Maryland in September of 2013 for their permanent museum collection.

Cone Fish

In 2001, I was sponsored to paint one of the 6' x 3' fiberglass fish for the Fish Out Of Water project in the Inner Harbor. I chose two images from Matisse and entitled it Cone Fish to honor the Cone sisters who were friends with Gertrude Stein and purchased works of Matisse brining them back to Baltimore. The fish was auctioned off along with 50 others at the Walters Art Museum selling for $22,500 to help fund art programs for Baltimore City schools. The fish has been outside since 2001 and I was hired to do a complete renovation, working with photos of my original fish.

Connect with Kristin

Kristin's Curated Collection

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