The artist

helen-portrat-b&wHelen Andersen (July 14, 1919 – December 23, 1995), was a Canadian artist whose paintings were often inspired by political and social convictions and by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. She worked with a variety of styles and subjects, including post-impressionist landscapes in the 1950s and 60s, abstract expressionist and hard edge pieces in the 1970s and 80s and stylized figurative subjects throughout her career.


Andersen signed her work in a number of different ways. At the beginning of her career, she used her nickname “Andy” as her nom d’art. Her maiden name was Anderson ( not Andersen, her married name). Her nursing school friends nicknamed her “Andy” in Regina and it stuck.

Later on, she took up other ways of signing… sometimes on a diagonal, sometimes with a hand print (a traditional made by me symbol ) and sometimes with a cartouche made up of the letters HMA. She dropped signaturesthe S from the initials for Helen Severson McKay Anderson for some reason, possibly because she didn’t like the Severson part of her name.

Occasionally, Andersen may have gone back to paintings she had signed “Andy” and covered the old sinature with a newer “Helen Andersen”.

4 thoughts on “The artist

  1. Colleen Davies

    We have a painting signed by her and dated “80”
    It’s a pale water scene which has a rock in water and a looks like a wooden pier/posts. On the bottom of picture it looks like the paper was stamped with letters and she painted over it. Maybe be a print?

    1. Bill Post author

      Thanks for writing, Colleen. It sounds a little like one we have on our wall here in Toronto. I will send you a photo of ours by email. Yours is probably an original, rather that a print. Helen did go back to work she had completed earlier and made changes to her signatures. At one point, she was imprinting them, too, with a kind of cartouche stamp of her devising.


  2. Dyan Young

    I would like to get in touch with a family member. I have a small painting of Helen’s from 1993 that was given to my father as a Christmas gift.

    1. Bill Post author

      I will reply by email, Dyan. I can provide a couple of links that may give you more information about Helen’s work and career. She must have liked your Dad. I hope you enjoy having her small painting.


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