Artist Harrie Handler shares a vibrant portfolio of abstracts and her compelling story of finding herself through painting. Visit her website to view more.
The principle that has always guided me through my work is seeing with my heart. I hope this idea will lure the viewer into my abstracts to experience calmness with movement, peacefulness with spaciousness, and tranquility with optimism. Creating beauty is the ultimate goal.
While trying to produce images that were timeless, transcendent and impassioned with scintillating raw emotion, something else happened. I didn’t realize until viewing my last two years of work that seeing with my heart wasn’t the only thing going on. I was also feeling with my heart.
About two years ago, my husband of 45 years, Jeff, suddenly passed away. One minute alive and the next minute gone. I was swimming in grief, and the emotional struggle of survival was breaking through me and into my paintings.
A week after his death, I opened the website of an international online monthly contest titled Abstract that I had entered. There was one of my paintings, The Melting of Winter, my name and the words “First Place” staring at me. My excitement lasted about a minute. Sorrow then enveloped me. Jeff wasn’t here to see this and share my accomplishment. It was bittersweet. I decided to view it as a sign from him of the path I should follow.
A few weeks later, picking up a paintbrush and having a dear friend who is my mentor by my side, I painted. It was the most difficult painting I have ever created. Friends said they could see heaven and earth depicted and felt that Jeff was watching over me. Another friend saw the face of death in the painting. I named it What New Path Awaits, trying to convey some optimism.
Family and close friends were always there to help me cope with my grief, despair, loneliness and depression. I was trying to find joy in everyday life. I always saw the beauty in the smallest objects, forms, color and textures in our world, but where was the joy? Painting became my crutch and therapy, and my paintings helped me find my way.
To keep myself further engaged in the art world, I entered a juried art fair in Carefree, Arizona. There I met a man who loved my work and started texting me. He was compassionate and caring, helping me through my emotional struggles.
Soon the texting became phone calls, and many friends started telling me that my paintings showed I was happier, especially in the color palettes. Still dealing with grief, I discovered that I had fallen in love with an incredible man who showed me joy and wanted to be part of my life.
I realized, again, that painting helped me find my way.
Harrie Handler invites you to follow her on Instagram.
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