In painting, I explore the collisions, fissions and fusions of my four great loves – color, light, space and form – in an evolving love affair with “reality.” The process is at once scientific and devotional, consisting of optical observation and sensory perception as well as irrational wishes, prayers and offerings. The result is a rectangle, in which I have engraved some of my attempts to capture the varying dimensions of things that awe me. Though the act of creation, of separating light and dark, can become too bold and arrogant, the process of perceptual painting puts me into a mood whereby I am more subservient and sensitive to nature and therefore more capable of letting the painting take me to a place I could not have imagined. There, with analytical thinking put aside and equipped instead with brush and color alone, I am fortunate to have small, fleeting conversations with the motif. Sometimes the impression is momentary, like a snapshot, and the resulting quick painting reflects the necessity of urgency. Other times the impressions of a place or thing are ongoing like an unsure relationship or a growing crush, and I add and subtract elements according to my instincts and aesthetic interests. I find it far more interesting to respond to the motif, rather than impose upon it.
In the past few years, I have turned away from obvious, limelight subjects to interior, figure-less spaces out of interest in experimenting with the meaning of presence and absence in time. Along the way, I have become ever more intrigued by the evolution of constant, curious residues of humanity in the world around us, and I have found a particular delight in visually orchestrating chaotic scenes. Here again, my process is not aware of any original intention however – interiors appear to me abstractly as if they were landscapes of hills and valleys and sky, a space far more vast than walls suggest, and my senses can naturally linger in even the most mundane places. The resulting image is a hybrid of intellectual temptation and aesthetic reaction, and perhaps expresses more clearly what real seems to be for me.
–Rebecca Harp, 2012
Being a painter is like always having a nickel in your pocket. Nickels come in handy, as you never know when you are going to come across a wishing well, a jammed opening, a scratch-and-sniff sticker, a pin number card, a lottery ticket, or a bubble gum machine. Nickels aren’t worth much financially, but you wouldn’t just throw one away in the sweeping. How much does a wish really cost? What would you pay for the simple joy of colored sugar on the tongue or a glow-in-the-dark bouncy ball? A penny just seems too little, and a dime outrageous. A nickel has a nice weight to it, some thickness and strength. It’s reliable. Five cents may not be much, but it sure beats a penny. A dime seems so flimsy, a little sissy in comparison. With everything changing, it’s nice to still feel that you can count on a nickel. Were you to find yourself in front of Niagara Falls or Trevi Fountain without a nickel to make a wish and toss it in – well that would be pretty much one of the saddest things ever.
Being a painter is like having that magical, handy nickel in your pocket at all times. All paintings and all brushstrokes are wishes, ones that are really felt. Small ones and sometimes really big ones, about simple values and things. Strange words like composition, chroma, harmony, balance, rendering, chiaroscuro, form or value are used, but they only ever amount to a nickel. A painting’s value to its painter is like that nickel in the pocket, nothing more, but it is more than enough.
There are no excuses in painting, no “if I only had a nickel.” The fountain is there, you have your paints, and you have to make a wish and toss it in amongst all the others behind and ahead of you, hoping that your wish will be heard in the depths. Simple beauties and pleasures are all around, like vending machines for children. No one asks you, pays you or forces you to buy a Bazooka with your nickel, or paint a pile of potatoes or haystacks in Provence for the sake of seeing dispersed pigment take on form and life. The passage of time just feels better because of it. It’s a wish thrown into a waterfall, for sincere and humble hopes about naive fantasies, the only things that really count.
–Rebecca Harp, 2011