Jennifer Harmes


Artist Biography:

Jennifer Harmes was born and brought up in New Zealand as part of a very artistic family. Her mother spent much time during her childhood working as a commercial artist and illustrator, and Jennifer Harmes herself has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil. She completed two years of a BA in Art at college in the United States as the recipient of an Art Scholarship and a Foreign Student Scholarship. She then completed a certificate in graphic design in New Zealand and worked for a number of years as a graphic designer, specialising particularly as a stylist for magazines in New Zealand. She began painting as a full time career in 2000. Jennifer Harmes cites as an inspiration the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth and Wolf Kahn. She is particularly well known for her beautiful paintings of flower heads and she comments on her specialism: "I love the way in which flowers are totally spontaneous and fill a space with energy and life. There is so much to learn from their natural rhythms and from their generous, unselfconscious beauty. They remind me of the simple things in life, the important things in life. The nature of flowers and their immediacy helps us to live in the present. Look at them now, see them this moment as tomorrow they'll be different, tomorrow may be too late. To be appreciated in all their richness, flowers need to be looked at. Each one is a wonder and not to be wasted. Flowers invite us to slow down, to take the time to stop and stare.” "For centuries flowers have been associated with key moments in our lives. They commemorate births, weddings, funerals and ceremonies; they are the time-honoured gift between old friends and new. Flowers are symbols of spontaneous joy and yet, at the same time, are layered with the experience of the moment. Flowers also have the power to evoke intense emotions, to encapsulate moods, to flood the heart with memories of the past. When I paint flowers they bring those memories, events in my life big and small and, most of all, those people associated with them, closer to me. Each flower has its own voice, its own attachment of memories and emotion." Jennifer Harmes is always looking out for flowers that catch her eye and she regular visits gardens and buys cut flowers from florists. She then photographs the particular image that has inspired her and eventually picks out something from each image that she wishes to draw up as a painting. She prepares her canvases with up to six layers of primer, sanding each coat to achieve the kind of surface on which she likes to paint. Then she uses Alkyd oils with liquid in transparent layers of paint to achieve the vibrancy and depth of colour to her work. She is hampered as an artist by the fairly strong feelings she has for all her flower paintings, which means that she finds it very hard to part with any of them! Peonies, however, are her favourite flower and she has kept Yellow Peony to hang permanently in her home.

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