The Conejo Valley enjoys a wealth of local artistic talent from all genres. While some artists push the envelope of creativity, often with great fanfare, others quietly go about their endeavors, adding beauty and brightness to our world.
Helle Rasmussen is one of the community’s unsung heroes, quietly making her mark with stunning creations that enhance the environment while sharing her skills and love of art with students. Hailing from Denmark, Helle has lived in the Thousand Oaks area since 1998. Her influence as an art teacher has been significant on many school campuses, in homeschool programs, and in private lessons for scores of children and adults.
Working with Helle, her students gain exposure to a wide variety of materials and media, as she is a student of all forms of art herself and likes to bring new artistic experiences and challenges to her classrooms.
“I want to help my students expand their knowledge by discovering artists and their works from around the world,” she says. “Further, I want to nurture their imaginations and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills—all while having fun.”
A mother of three, Helle has taught art to students of all ages over the past 15 years. She has worked with Art Trek and Art Masters programs teaching K-6th grade and has since developed many of her own lessons, while teaching homeschool students in Grades K-9.
She developed Bridges Charter School’s art program, while teaching art on a voluntary basis to all grade levels throughout the school’s first year. A few years back, Helle was commissioned to paint murals at the Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. The school’s director had seen some murals she had done at another school and wanted her to create something educational.
“We ended up with all of the school’s 14 doors featuring trees, with each painted in a different art style and each inspired by a great artist. For example, the impressionist tree was reflective of Monet, the cubist tree was Picasso’s, and the Pop Art tree was an Andy Warhol inspiration.”
Helle’s great passion for hands-on teaching, exploring new ideas and connecting with her students keeps her actively looking for new challenges to stretch her skills. About three years ago, she decided to expand her talents and learn to create mosaics.
Her first mosaic in the area was done with a Girl Scout Group at Earths Magnet School, as part of the young ladies’ Bronze Award project. The piece, which the group worked on throughout the summer of 2014, features a 9-foot diameter compass with the school’s mascot gecko designed at the center.
Another of Helle’s large mosaic projects is located behind the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. With the students of One Spark Academy, Helle created an outside learning center with six benches and two tables decorated with mosaics. The students did the work during weekly art lessons for nearly a year, starting in 2015.
Currently, Helle teaches the art of mosaics at the Conejo Valley Adult School and will add two more classes to her curriculum—Art History and linoleum printmaking—in the fall.
Helle also does residential artwork to beautify homes, including her own. She has replaced her front lawn with flagstone intermingled with different mosaic designs. Additionally, she has started working on a home in Westlake Village that may take up to six months to complete.
In her new home, she is already hard at work painting, mostly walls and ceilings. She says she likes keeping busy and creating, even if it’s not considered artwork. She plans to repeat her flagstone and mosaic yard design she recently completed at her old house.
Helle finds great joy in teaching kids and adults, showing them how satisfying it is to create.
“When you have something of your own, it feels good. No matter what it looks like, the most important thing is the process of creating and having a great time doing it. I love it when I see my students becoming passionate about artwork.”