In between stints playing the tenor sax in a jazz band, working at the engraving company and doing freelance work, he traveled out west on a painting trip through the Rockies. Helwig by then committed himself to the fine arts field and received funding from the Fleischman Scholarship. He now had the opportunity to study art in Paris for 18 months. Helwig studied at the Academy Julian and the Academy Modern under Leger.
He returned to his home town of Cincinnati and became an active artist and teacher for over 40 years. He was a muralist and painted in oil and watercolor. Helwig’s work is shown in many museums, including the Chicago Art Institute and the Philadelphia Museum.