After graduating from NC, Robert attended Washington State University, where he earned undergraduate and master of fine arts degrees. He was an instructor at the University of Colorado for a brief time, before returning to WSU to teach art from 1971 to 1984. He then decided to quit teaching and fulfill his dreams of becoming a professional artist.
Of Robert’s work, the director of WSU’s art museum said, “He made art like a 19th Century cabinetmaker, through a meticulous, slow process that accounted for every brush stroke, every hair of a brush and piece of laminate.” Never obsessed with getting his work widely exhibited, Robert was a patient artist. At times he frustrated gallery owners by letting out only one or two paintings every five years.
His diligence, however, served him well in the long run. His artwork has been shown in galleries and museums in Seattle, Sun Valley, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has Robert's work in its permanent collection, as does the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. His work is also in museums and private collections in Europe. He received a Flintridge Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.
Robert Helm passed away in 2008 at the age of 65.