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ABOUT THE ARTIST: Charley Harper

Charley Harper was an artist who had a very distinctive style. He did not paint animals realistically with every feather in place, but created an impression not by putting a lot in but by taking alot out. "I don't count the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings." He once commented that when he looked at wildlife he did not see feathers, fur, or tails, instead he saw exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, and textures; all framed in the fascinating behaviors exhibited by these creatures. As a result, he used simple shapes, color and design to depict nature and incorporated aspects of the animal's behavior and its ecological role. In addition to designs, Charley generally titled his work with a fascinating and often telling title such as "The Last Aphid" or "Lucky Ladybug." Although, Charley was partial to birds and mammals, around 14 percent of his works feature arthropods and many others incorporate an arthropod.

Charley Harper (b. 1922 d. 2007)

Charley was born in 1922 and grew up on a West Virginia farm where he developed an appreciation and love of animals of all kinds. As a child he used to doodle in school and in the fifth grade, he realized he could draw. This realization directed his life. He attended Virginia Wesleyan College and later graduated from the Cincinnati Art Academy where he taught for many years. Slowly he began to feel that he was shackled by the laws of perspective and shading and decided that the constant attempt to create the illusion of three dimensions on the two-dimensional plane of the picture (i.e. realism) was limiting his expression. The result has been an incredibly fresh look at nature that shows its simplicity. Today, Charley Harper is well-known around the world for his definitive artistic style. He produced hundreds of limited edition prints and several books. The books include Charley Harper's Birds and Words, 1974 (Frame House Gallery, Cincinnati, OH and the Pinaire Lithograph Corp., Louisville, KY) and Beguiled by the Wild, 1994 (Flower Valley Press, Gaithersburg, MD). He has done a number of fantastic posters for our national park service depicting a number of our national parks.


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