Vernonia artist Randal Harvey worked a number of jobs over her lifetime. It wasn’t until her husband and she moved to the East Bay from San Francisco to help take care of aging parents that she had the time to get back to what she have always loved – Art.
“I have always loved arts and crafts. I love color and the interplay of colors. I was first drawn to stained glass because of the vivid colors. After a few years I decided to begin painting; it seemed a natural progression.”
She started with watercolors under a delightful teacher, Pat Strout. She also took classes in California Impressionist Painting with George Holmes and completed a short stint with Mark Jezierny, who showed her the effects of Light and Shadow, and Perspective and Grids. Then she met two incredible artists (and teachers) to whom she says she owes so much: Gary Bergren and Margaret Bromstrom.
“Gary hammered into my head the elements that make a good painting: The A, B, C’s and all the rules and reg’s of how to paint. His portrait class, ‘Creating an Illusion,’ changed how I paint. He taught me how to listen to a critique without my ego getting in the way. He said to me once that you have to know the rules before you can break them successfully. He was right of course. He was and still is a wonderful and giving teacher, and just a plain fantastic person.
“Margaret Bromstrom taught me to be free and brave with my painting, and offered the gift of time to do so. I spent over two years with Margaret and a little over one year with Gary.”
Randal started with watercolor, still likes the medium and does it occasionally. She tried oil, but discovered she was allergic to it! So, she now paints in acrylic. “With all the moisture in the air, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to paint with acrylic. I can keep my sponge palette workable for up to a month and, on occasion, longer. Really!”
She describes her style, if forced to put a name to it, as somewhere between Realism and Surrealism. “I’ve tried impressionism, but my style and colors seem to end up more realistic and dark. I’m still evolving. Who knows what the future holds.”
Her work covers a range of subjects including animal portraits and a “Vernonia Series.” The series includes: “Dogwood Blossoms on Texas Avenue, Vernonia, Oregon,” “Treasures from Julie’s Garden: ‘Beets and Squash’, Vernonia, Oregon” and “Christmas Pomegranate from Sentry Market, Vernonia, Oregon”. She currently has nine in the series, with more in planning stages. How many will be in the “Vernonia Series? She has no idea.
Randal loves and is influenced by many artists: “Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Vermeer–I love the darkness vs. light of their portraits. John Singer Sargent, whose brush work just blows me away – so loose up close, but stand back and it’s magic how he makes it come together. Salvador Dali because his body of work just sings. Anything from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Rossetti being one of my favs, and John William Waterhouse, who some say isn’t a Pre-Raphaelite, but I say he is, so there. And I can’t leave out Henri Rousseau, another of my favorites.”
Before closing this, Randal added, “I love seeing the work of the young artists in town and want to see more, please.”