My Bio

Creative as a Child and Teenager

Although I studied visual art and dance in college, I've been artistic and creative since birth. I assembled my first lawnmower at the age of two. It wasn't my first painting, but my father was impressed!

My parents are both artistic, and so I was blessed with artistic talent by simply being their daughter. I remember studying and using a camera at a young age when my maternal grandparents would visit, but I think all kids are interested in buttons and gadgets.

Growing up, I would draw, color, paint and decoupage. I was known for creating 3-D greeting cards for friends and family. In cahoots with my sisters, I would also write and direct short theatrical plays to entertain our parents and friends.

I began to study photography in high school, and it was so fun because of the enthusiasm, encouragement and eccentricities of my photography instructor. He had a bushy head of hair, a bushy red mustache, and a state-of-the-art laboratory. Since the class was comprised of a variety of grade levels, every student had a different level of experience, and I especially enjoyed working with the more experienced upper classmen. We would develop our rolls of film in the dark room on Mondays and Tuesdays. During the rest of the week, we would produce hard copies of our photos and experiment with the lighting equipment in the classroom. My photography class was the single break in the day from my very heavy academic load, and so I became very fond of it.

Why Abstract Expressionism Art

During college, I took dance and visual art courses as electives. As my creativity grew during this time period, I faced emotional situations that were difficult for me. To cope, I adopted an extreme athletic regimen. Sometimes, though, a few hours in the gym wasn't enough. So, I decided to apply myself to painting. After college, I continued my athletic regimen and painting since they proved to be effective coping mechanisms.

I paint when my feelings inspire me to do so which is why I generally create abstract or expressionistic paintings. Many times, emotions feel like a series of undefined, even convoluted, shapes and colors - thus, abstract art!

Painting is my favorite way to distract myself when I felt melancholy, hurt or loss. It is my way of opposing negative emotions and sometimes to completely rid myself of them. In more recent years, I have learned to paint when I have feelings of happiness, joy and contentment.

Emotions are fickle. So, it isn't rare for me to create a painting on one day and then hate it a few weeks or months later and paint right over it. It's also not rare for me to continue this cycle until I feel the painting is complete, but sometimes a painting never feels finished.

When people relate to what I attempt to express with paint, I am always surprised. I paint for myself and am a bit of a loner, so when others sense and relate to my feelings, I feel a gentle shock course through me that reminds me that I am connected to a much larger world.

The connections that my paintings create are my reward for stepping out of my shell and having the courage to share myself with the world.

Interpreting My Art

I find it interesting when viewers interpret something from a painting that I did not intend. I enjoy listening to people discuss my paintings, but I find it silly when people become overly verbose and interpretative about my intentions or a painting's meaning. I believe it's foolish to expect every painting to have deep meaning. When I see a beautiful sunrise, I'm not going to analyze it ad nauseum and miss the whole idea of simply enjoying its beauty.

For me, the whole point of abstract painting is to use shapes and colors in lieu of words — to experience or dispel feelings in silence. So, when I'm asked to interpret my paintings, I don't say much.

I prefer to simply enjoy the painting as a personal experience and keep the words to a minimum. There's no need for an oration.

Today and Beyond

I think that I will always be experimenting with painting. Just like lawyers practice law and doctors practice medicine, I will always be a practitioner of art. The result is that my art is eclectic and why I have no desire to focus on a single style. I simply want to paint with no regard for formality, and I hope I am able to do so for the rest of my life.

Rachael Harbert