If you’re looking for a local tip on how to spend a blissful day on the North Fork, Lee Harned has one: “Each Wednesday evening throughout the summer there is a sailboat race around Robbins Island. I love to pack up dinner and a bottle of wine and sit at New Suffolk Beach to watch the race. If the weather cooperates, you can catch a magnificent sunset at dusk.”
What was the inspiration for this piece?
My friend Bernadette has a delightfully overgrown perennial garden filled with a large variety of Iris and other interesting blooms. Each spring I observe the growth cycle until it bursts into color in mid May. I’ve photographed and sketched her garden throughout the spring and summer for a number of years. The cover painting, entitled “Bernadettes Garden” was painted at the end of March or early April when the North Fork was so gray I was starving for color. Rather than waiting for Mother Nature to bring sunlight, warm weather and color to the environment, I did a series of paintings with as colorful a palette as possible to lift me out of the winter doldrums and it did just that! Color is food for the artistic soul!
What do you miss most about being an arts educator?
I miss the kids. Picasso often said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” During my career, I taught both elementary and secondary students. I miss the spontaneity, playfulness, freedom and creativity of the elementary kids. They have no inhibitions and love to work with all sorts of materials. Their enthusiasm was infectious. On the secondary level, I miss their energy, commitment and even their drama.
How can one sign up for, and what can they expect to work on and learn, at the classes you offer?
My workshops in Laurel are ongoing throughout the year. I conduct individualized instruction with each participant working on an artwork of choice. I basically “steer the ship,” offering suggestions on composition, color mixing and a variety of techniques. The two-hour workshops inspire people to set aside time to paint. Participants learn as much from observing each other as they do from instruction. We strive for progress, not perfection. For information I can be contacted at [email protected].
Where’s the most unusual place your work has appeared?
Last summer I was going through a pile of drawings and prints at an estate sale in Greenport. A group of drawings looked very familiar to me. They were a series of my sketches for the sets of Oliver at Greenport School from about 1973 or 1974. As an art teacher you were the sign painter and set designer in addition to your class assignments. It was really strange to rediscover my sketches so many years later.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist in history who would it be and what would you talk about?
I think it might be Gustav Klimt or Pierre Bonnard. The discussion and questions for any artist would be the same. What drove you to become an artist? When did you consider yourself an artist? What’s your process? What’s your source of inspiration and what artists influence your work? Where and when do you do your best work? I am particularly interested in how an artist structures his or her most productive days. I often pick up and read an interesting book entitled Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. It’s a fascinating series of conversations with famous artists, poets, composers, playwrights and scientists about how they spend their days productively to get their work done.
See more of Harned’s work at Old Town Arts and Crafts Guild and Gallery in Cutchogue now through December and at leearthar.com.