Laurie Harden is an illustrator and painter, and has been, it seems, all her life. It is her first love and abiding passion. She works in Oils, Gouche, Pastels, Charcoal & Pencil.
Laurie studied at Kansas City Art Institute and Rhode Island School of Design where she graduated with a BFA in Illustration. Laurie has worked as a free-lance illustrator for over 30 years (see client list below).
Laurie now spends most of her time teaching art classes to adults, teens and children at several art associations. She specializes in Oil Painting Classes, Drawing Fundamentals, Figure Drawing & Portraits, and Pastel Classes. She also gives private lessons.
Harden’s work is widely exhibited, awarded, commissioned and collected. An artist with international clientele, she has received many portrait commissions, including former NJ governor, Brendan Bryne, and former Prime Minister of Japan, Keizo Obuchi.
Laurie has exhibited her fine art at the Salmagundi Art Club, The National Arts Club, the Pen & Brush Club in NYC, as well as many venues in NJ. She is a member of the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, the Allied Artists, the American Artists Professional League, the Pastel Society of America, the Pastel Society of NJ, and the Art Centre of NJ to mention a few.
Ms. Harden resides in Northern New Jersey.
Q: What town do you live in?
A: Boonton, NJ.
Q: Where is your studio/place of work?
A: My studio is in my home. I also share a studio withArt Workshop at 404 Main Street in Boonton.
Q: What is your art background/education/
A: I come from an artistic family & have been creating art all my life.
I went to Kansas City Art Institute for 2 years- majoring in Painting. I
transferred to Rhode Island School of Design where I got a BFA in Illustration and minored in Printmaking. Since then, I have taken several workshops or classes with admired artists.
Q: Has your practice changed over time? Why/How?
A: Yes- when I started out as an illustrator who did fine art on
the side. I worked in gauche & collage, or graphite pencil for my B&W assignments. I quickly switched to oils or charcoal where I was more comfortable and could be looser. As the Illustration work became digital, I began teaching more which allowed me to work in many mediums and subjects with my classes. I have always enjoyed experimenting with different styles & techniques, but in the last 3 years I have really been exploring mixed media painting and abstraction. I feel that experimentation helps you to grow so you don’t get stagnant.
Q: What kind of work do you create/ what do you do in the arts?
A: I work primarily in Oils. Pastels, Mixed Media, Charcoal & Graphite- but I dabble in other mediums too.
I teach art classes in Oil Painting. Pastels, Figure-drawing, Drawing
Essentials, Portraiture, and sometimes I teach Children’s Classes in Art
also. I do a lot of Portrait commissions and Pet Portraits. I worked as a
free-lance illustrator for many years, so I occasionally will do an
Q: How do you balance your time in the studio/in the workplace with other commitments?
A: I long ago decided that I could have a clean, orderly house &
garden, or I could paint. Painting wins out almost every time. Since my children are grown & my husband is retired, I am not required to do as many errands, chores or cooking. HOORAY! More time in my studio! I was teaching 13 classes per week before Covid, but that has been reduced
to 6 or 7 classes per week- depending how many private students I have scheduled between my group classes. This is better-so much more time to
work on my own pieces. I try to go out to Life-draw once or more per
week at Riker Hill Art Park. And I get up to my studio daily. And there is always a lot of running around with art show and receptions.
Q: What inspires you? Who are your favorite artists/ artworks? Favorite museum/ gallery (outside of Morris County)
A: I am really inspired by the ideas and techniques of other artists who I follow on Instagram or Facebook. I have always been moved by the work of Degas, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Sargent, Van Gogh, Toulouse Lau Trec, Monet, Sorilla & Zorn to name a few of my favorites.
My favorite museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being in the arts? Least favorite?
A: Favorite- being creative and getting into that Alpha State when I’m working- it’s addictive.
Least Favorite- lack of perks: like no health insurance, pension or paid vacation time & sick days.
Q: What are a few of your big artistic career goals? What is your dream project?
A: I would love to be able to support myself on the Sale of my artwork- I’ve always had to supplement that income by teaching or illustrating. And I would love to be represented by some really nice galleries. Almost all the galleries that carried my work have closed down. My dream project would be to get commissions to paint people in my new style, which is loose and very colorful with abstracted backgrounds.
Q: How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world?
A: I visit Instagram and Facebook most days to see what other artists are creating. I belong to many art organizations and attend lectures & demonstrations. I go to galleries and art museums. I also subscribe to Art Magazines.
Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
A: I have had people break into tears when I present them with
a portrait of a loved one. More disconcerting is when they
break into hysterical laughter...
Q: Do you have any exhibitions/events/
performances coming up?
A: I am in several group shows currently: NJ Art Association
Exhibit at Overlook Hospital (I won Best in Show), NJAA
Exhibit at the Morris County Library, NJAA Exhibit at
Chatham Library, NJAA Exhibit at Bedminster Library,
Tewksbury Juried Exhibition, Berkshire-Hathaway Realtors
in Livingston, The ACL Gallery Show :“Americana”, Zufall
Health Exhibit: “Dance”, and upcoming will be: The Barn
Theatre in Montville, the Art Centre of NJ Show at Cranes
Mill, the West Essex Art Association Exhibit and The Pastel
Society of NJ Exhibit.
I am also having a BIG Backyard Art Sale with over 130 oil
paintings at my home in Boonton on Sept; 10 & 11 (rain date:
9/17 & 9/18) from 9-5.
Q: What do you want others to know about your art practice/artistic themes/stylistic choices/materials you use?
A: I try to show the universal humanity in the people I paint. All
races, religions, ages, genders, ethnicities deal with the
same problems and successes, and they share the same
emotions and concerns. I hope to show compassion and
empathy to all- and help others to feel that also. It is why I
am so drawn to figurative paintings. You will rarely see me
do a still-life.
Q: When you are working through problems in your arts practice, who do you talk to? What is the best piece of advice you've been given? What advice do you have to give other artists?
A: I have a very artistic family, so I consult my sons, my sister my
cousin & my husband (who is an Architect). If I am still stuck, I
take my problem canvas to the Art Workshop and have my artist friends critique it. Or I gesso over it- as it is no use flogging a dead horse.
Best piece of advice- “Stop using so much white!”
My advice- Paint or draw everyday- do not expect them all to be gems, and do NOT wait around for the MUSE to find you- she will catch up to you as you are painting. EXPERIMENT! Have
Q: Where is your favorite place to find visual arts in Morris County?
A: Speakeasy Art Gallery at 816 Main Street, Boonton,
Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery in Boonton, and the Morris
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I have a couple of portrait commissions and I am continuing
the 3 series I have going, plus landscape painting with my classes.
Q: What was the weirdest/worst “survival” job you ever had?
A: I was a Chicken Boxer at Ginos’ Restuarant one summer and a
Microfilmer at Caldwell Associates in High School.
Q: What place would you like to visit?
A: Africa on a photo safari, or Ireland, or South of France, or Italy,
or Scandinavia or Bavaria, or Greece, etc....
Q: What is the perfect food?
A: Ice cream.
Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I knew from the time I was 5 that I was going to be an artist.
Q: What is your most treasured possession?
A: My dogs (do they count? They are actually “family”). In that
case- my Paintbox with the brushes & paint inside.
Q: Are you an early bird or night owl?
A: Early bird.
Q: What superpower would you have and why?
A: I would like to be able to fly as I imagine that it is very thrilling
and you could get a whole new vantage point & no traffic.