By: Audrey Levinson
An artist’s energy about what they do can carry so much power within them. It is that which we call passion. It’s the artist’s core, the center of individuality. Ones mark on the world and the legacy that remains.
No matter, what life may be like the core is always there just waiting to be ignited through thought and vision. I met with Wendy Harris who inspired me to write about the artist’s energy and passion. I found Wendy to be highly energetic, very animated and interesting with a soul full of wisdom. We talked about current worries in politics and especially what is happening to our planet. She was kind and allowed me to play a little using her best pastels; I could feel what it’s like to work with them. I have but one word; Butter! This was very satisfying.
Wendy grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I learned that this was an area rich in creativity. Many famous writers and artists came out of this area. She said that she was always surrounded by original artworks. In her home and even in her high-school Central Bucks High School in Doylestown, PA. She went to school in a building that had art by Edward Redfield a renowned artist with the Pennsylvania Impressionists on loan. These paintings were 4’ x 5’ and hung in the foyer and auditorium of the school. To people with a creative nature this is learning around museum-quality inspiration everyday. Her home was a different story and even better. Wendy’s talent is inherited. Her grandfather was a recognized artist in the early part of the 20th century. She showed me a book with her grandfather’s impressive work in it. Fortunately, the art gene was passed along to her mother who passed it to Wendy. Wendy’s mother received a full art scholarship to attend Syracuse University at the age of 16. I asked Wendy when and where she attended art school. She said she started using pastels in 1996 when she took a course at University College from Nicora Gangi and then Mary Padgett. Wendy knew what was good for her and took the course seven times. Since 1999, Wendy Harris has had a studio at the Delavan Center. It’s a great space to work.
Wendy is an En plein air artist. She works outside among the elements whenever possible to capture the more intimate settings and vast landscapes of nature. She said working this way is not only hard work but is a “gestalt.” You remember all nuances of the day because you are in the elements. When she paints cloud studies which are some of my favorite paintings, she must do this in the studio from a picture. Of course, the sky is constantly moving and changing even on its calmest sunny days. Her landscapes are full of color and light. They will delight you. She prepares her paintings typically using a very warm derivative of red and with that adding a paint stroke texture underneath the red along with using pastels to create her paintings. Her paintings literally glimmer. Wendy is in love with iridescent pastels and interference paint. This is paint that has no pigment but magically refracts light in color. Her paintings are filled with peace and are so uplifting that you want to always have one to look at. If only the world really was this way. I found myself taken into her landscapes and venues and through my imagination. I want to stay and explore.
“Art making is a mysterious solitary work that moves
between struggle and flow and if I’m lucky leaves me
feeling like I’ve experienced grace.”
This brings me to the good news. Wendy entered a call for artists by the Upstate Cancer Treatment Center, a new 70 million-dollar addition. She was chosen over 80 other local artists for the one commissioned painting that the facility would own. The theme for this was about healing with nature. Wendy soon discovered that not only were they looking for artwork filled with the peace and healing with nature but that the entire center focused this from the architecture to all aspects involved. Wendy’s commissioned piece hangs there along with eight other of her paintings in various places. She feels humbled because the reaction to her work has been overwhelmingly thankful, especially from patients who have stared into a place where they can possibly forget why they are there.
Wendy teaches private lessons in her studio and has a website where you can see more of her work. She is an award-winning artist, and her triumphs are listed there. You can find an interesting video of how she creates using pastels and paint and texture. Her enthusiasm is abundant.
You can reach her at wendyharris.com to learn more about this rising art star.