The Intimate Forest

A Celebration of the Beauty of Nature in Oil Paintings by Harlan

Harlan - Artist Biography

Born in 1951 outside of Detroit Michigan, Harlan grew up not far from
Cranbrook Art Academy. Blessed with parents who loved art and encouraged
artists, Harlan's early years were spent in the frequent company of artists. Her
father shared his deep love and respect for Nature during frequent long walks,
bicycle rides, gardening and making wine.

Harlan's artistic talents were encouraged from childhood. Every year included
some form of art instruction covering a vast array of media: ceramics, encaustic
painting, collage, graphics, acrylic painting, weaving, watercolors, basket
weaving, and metal smithing. She excelled easily in whatever media she chose to
use. While having enjoy formal art training, Harlan is a self-taught oil painter.
Oil painting is her preferred medium: "its like an extension of my mind". She
devoted a great deal of time to learning the science behind the medium to
understand how and why oil paintings are constructed as they are. Her paintings
are not only beautiful but are painted with integrity.

Harlan has several one woman shows in the greater Detroit area during the early
and mid 1980s. Her pen and ink drawing of a fish was the cover for the Great
Detroit Aquarium Society's magazine for many years. She served as Vice-
president for one year and President for three years for the Fenton Artist Guild. It
was necessary for the guild to alter the by-laws to allow her to remain president
for the third year.

In 1986 Harlan married and became less artistically active after the birth of her
son in 1990, turning her creativity to smaller projects that would easily conform
to the demands of raising a toddler. Since 1995 she has returned to her easel with
a renewed energy and purpose.

"Art patrons deserve to have a work of art that will last far longer than they will.
I consider it almost contemptuous of some modern artists who give no real
consideration to the durability of their work."

Nature has always been a reoccurring theme throughout Harlan's professional
career which has included portraits, abstracts, fantasy and conceptual work. As a
strong believer that a painting must speak for itself without an explanation from
the artist, Harlan now devotes her talents to large "portraits" of small landscapes.
"Humans tend to presume that we all perceive the world in a similar manner. As
someone who has been near-sighted nearly all my life I have learned that I see
very differently than my far-sighted husband. He can look at a scenic view and
take it all in at once while my eye tends to focus on details within the whole. Our
perception of the world around us varies so greatly. As an artist I have the
opportunity to share my view, to draw attention to the amazing beauties of the
natural world which are all too often just overlooked for sake of the big picture."

Harlan's paintings beckon us into that miniature world to share a delight for
color, light and shadow and marvel at the beauty of Nature. Her paintings are life
like without resorting to photorealism. "I prefer to think of my work as 'Focused
Impressionism'. I'm not just copying a photo on a grand scale, not that doing so
isn't quite an artistic endeavor, it just isn't my particular purpose. There is a lot of
"me" in every painting. I may exaggerate a color to share the emotional impact
that color had on me. I may remove elements in the real scene, in the photograph
 that distract from the composition. I work from photos because it is simply
impractical for me to try and do my work 'plein air'. I'm fortunate to be able to
"freeze" my subject with the use of a camera."

 

 

ROBERT FROST'S - THE ROAD NOT TAKEN