Anne Harkness: A Changing Relationship with Art

Anne Harkness Art

Anne Harkness has loved the process of creating artwork since she was a child.

Her artistic family members encouraged Anne to draw and paint through school. Following their advice and her own talent, she attended the Atlanta College of Art and The Maryland Institute College of Art. There, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.

Through many years of trial, error, and realizing which techniques are the most fulfilling and rewarding, Harkness found her home in oil painting. It was only six years ago when this award-winning artist transitioned from other practices such as crayons, pencils, watercolor, and photography to the medium she truly loves. 

In 2014, Anne began to study this new medium under fellow oil painter and North Carolina native, Curt Butler. Unsure if she could be successful with oil paints, she received glowing words of praise from her mentor. “You have what it takes to become an artist,” Butler said. His affirmation was the push she needed to pursue a full-time career as an artist. 

oil painting of outdoor chairs
Photo credit – Jamey Price

Finding Artistic Inspiration

For her paintings and projects, Anne draws inspiration from life. “I felt I had permission to love life and embrace the parts of it that made me dance and sing. For me, that was, and is, painting,” she said. “Friends and family insisted I keep going for it when they saw how happy painting made me.” 

Teaching also inspires her. She loves to share insights, elements, and principles of painting with eager students at her professional studio. “Giving to others is a way of passing it forward,” says Harkness.

According to Harkness, one of the most rewarding parts of teaching and painting is seeing young artists begin to understand techniques and excitedly bring their creative ideas to life on canvas. 

Painting Outside the Lines

oil painting of indoor chairs
Photo credit – Jamey Price

Anne loosely describes her own style and artistic aesthetic as “contemporary realism with a spin of line, design, and abstraction.” 

Her practice and mediums have changed since college. However, elements of graphic design still have their moments in her oil paintings. Every canvas features a geometric foundation that has been overlaid with vibrant colors and intentional, softer strokes. After staying inside lines for so long–a theme in her artistic journey and in her life–Harkness says she finally learned to use the lines to her favor. 

“I began by using lines to outline a subject, like in a coloring book. Now I break lines and rules. I try to contain a recognizable portion of the subject. But I leave the lines that I used to draw the subject, which abstracts it.” 

One of her many works that captures this abstract aesthetic is the award-winning piece titled A Capella. In 2019, Anne Harkness received the Fine Art Connoisseur Award of Excellence at the Looking West: An Exhibition Highlighting Works by American Women Artists in the Steamboat Art Museum in Colorado. 

“I felt so honored just to have been accepted into the show,” she recalls. “Receiving the award was over the top for me.”

While her ‘most proud of’ painting list is always changing, this groundbreaking piece, and a few others including The Duet and Skipper’s Day Off are some of her current favorite creations. 

Providence Gallery represents Anne Harkness in Charlotte, and Vision Gallery represents her in Morehead City. You can view or purchase her art at anneharkness.com.  

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