arbitrary color, diplomatic corps, Earth Elements, egg, England, Germany, glassmaking, harmon biddle, imagination, intuitive painting, Japan, Murano, psychoanalyst, southwestern landscape, Touchstone Gallery DC, transparent glass, watercolor, wide horizontal landscapes
Army families and those in the diplomatic corps move around the country a lot and often get stationed “overseas.” Harmon Biddle’s family fit those service categories. She lived in many states and European posts including Germany, Japan and England. While she didn’t think of herself as an artist at a young age, she was often at the side of her mother who painted pastel portraits. Perhaps some of that artistic sensibility and some of those varied landscapes seeped into her psyche only to become an active force in adulthood. Harmon always dabbled in art but this took second row seat to becoming a psychoanalyst. She currently practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in tandem with her art.
In the 1980’s, Harmon made an art studio over the garage. She intuitively knew that she wanted to get serious about painting. Now with “a room of her own” and inspiration from Southwestern landscapes, Harmon began to paint. Her format often takes the shape of long horizontal rectangles, as if she’s trying to capture 180 degrees of horizon. Other paintings are pure emanations of her imagination, particularly those based on oval egg shapes. Being a psychoanalyst, one would think Harmon could explain where those eggs came from, but she’s not exactly sure. It’s up to the viewer to discern meaning from this complex symbol whose meanings range from potential to vulnerability, and from strength to latency or potential.
As in her landscape compositions, Harmon just starts with a particular color and then sees what happens as she flows watercolor paints into the paper. Something happens in her unconscious between the time she records an image and when she actually begins to paint it. Color becomes arbitrary. Sometimes it’s bright, as in the egg pictures, and sometimes its subdued browns and grays. She has the aptitude for accepting what comes forth from her imagination and letting the process lead her to an unplanned completion.
Taking her paintings a step further, Harmon sometimes pairs up with an Italian glassmaker at Adriano Berengo Fine Arts on the island of Murano. There, her two dimensional egg paintings are transformed into very heavy and transparent glass structures that capture light in unexpected ways. Both paintings and the large glass 3-D pieces in her Touchstone Solo Earth Elements can be viewed between February 4 and March 1. –Rosemary Luckett