Artist Helli Luck reflects the emotion of the scene before her


Serenity, oil on canvas, 40″ x 30″

Many discerning residents of the Charleston area and beyond have discovered that a little bit of Luck goes a long way in making their homes a calming and soothing oasis that captures light in a most artful manner.

Helli Luck, who is a respected and well-known painter residing in Pawleys Island, moved to the United States in 1986 from London, where she was born and raised. Today, she is an established impressionist who has fallen in love with oil painting as well as her picturesque surroundings, but painting and drawing with watercolors and charcoal have always been a part of her life.

“I spent a lot of time in cities all over Europe, visiting museums and studying the old masters. My favorite experience was looking at the impressionists at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris,” says Luck, who still speaks with the clarity and accent of Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews.

“I had a great childhood. My dad, who was a builder, took us diving and fishing at a very young age, and my parents were both very arty. They were into painting, and they made pottery,” she says.

Old Girl, oil on canvas, 30″ x 30″

It’s not surprising that Luck is passionate about living in the coastal region of South Carolina as it allows her to enjoy a warmer climate and all the water activities associated with it—from fishing to beginning each day with a walk on the beach. Luck is an easy communicator, down-to-earth and seems to be a person who could connect with just about anyone—in large measure because she’s a good listener. She laughs easily, and she genuinely appears to appreciate meeting people.

Aside from oil painting, Luck also enjoys making and selling her art on French crumpled paper she calls tapestries. When it comes to artistic undertakings, she is never afraid to try new things. “It keeps me evolving,” she says.

Her education included boarding school when she was about 10—an experience that has followed her. “It was a very international school, and to this day, I stay in touch with all those people, and they are scattered all over the world,” Luck says.

Luck’s parents encouraged her artistic pursuits. “They encouraged me from a young age to follow my passion for painting,” she says. “I was privileged to have my work exhibited in the Mall Galleries near Buckingham Palace. Imagine the thrill of a 14-year-old seeing her work travel Europe as this exhibit did in 1972.”

Pearl Dive, oil on canvas, 36″ x 36″

As an artist, Luck tries to capture feelings and emotions on the canvas. “I want to reflect the emotion of the scene I have in front of me,” she explains. “How does it make you feel? I want my paintings to be beautiful and poetic and to speak to the emotions.”

Clearly with the resounding response to her beautiful impressionist works of art, Charleston residents are feeling plenty of emotions. “I am so flattered when clients tell me that my paintings in their home bring them joy every day or that the painting is one of their most prized possessions,” she says. Luck sells her paintings as fast as she can create them, which necessitates a seven-day work week.

“When I lived in Nashville, I was painting barns and the landscape, which included a lot of cows. I painted what was in front of me,” she says. “As I have moved around the world, there are so many beautiful places to paint, but I love where I am living now because I love diving and fishing, and the light is especially beautiful. My interest has always been in the light.”

Luck made the switch to oil painting about 15 years ago for her own entertainment. “Most of my life I was painting commercially, and now I paint for myself,” says Luck, who studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins School of Art in London.

After graduating with honors, Luck made the gutsy decision to form her own advertising agency, D&H Advertising. Later she worked with Saatchi & Saatchi as an art director. “I was traveling all over the world, and I was very young to be working with companies like British Airways doing all the media—print work, posters, TV—everything,” she says. “It was a huge experience in my life and a big confidence booster.”

Golden Hour, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″

Luck is a member of the American Impressionist Society (AIS) and revels in spending quality time with other artists—most notably Quang Ho, a Vietnamese immigrant who is a mentor and inspiration. “He is a living master, and he inspires me,” she says. “All his brushstrokes are beautiful.” Some other artistic inspirations for Luck include Sargent, Sorolla, Zorn and Monet.

“I have always loved painting en plein air, using sketches as inspiration back in the studio. I am most passionate about painting from the model, trying to capture the mood of the moment,” she says.

Listening to Luck, luxuriating in her paintings and getting to know her is likewise an inspiration—one that lingers in much the same way as a breathtaking sunrise or sunset in Charleston. *

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