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Ethan Harper artwork

Ethan Harper

Ethan Harper is an extraordinarily versatile artist. Renowned for his use of color to set a mood or tone in his paintings, Harper paints a wide variety of subjects in many different styles and mediums. As a respected medical illustrator, Harper has learned a wide variety of different styles and mediums to suit the subject he is working on. From contemporary masterpieces to vintage posters, Harper's grasp of design as well as color and style allows him to stand out among his artistic peers and create a wide variety of different genres and subjects.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Lexington, VA and later moved to Charlottesville when I was a teenager.

Where do you live now?

I moved to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University and have called it home for almost twenty years now. I love Richmond with its rich history, diverse population and close proximity to both the water and the mountains.

Does the place you live have an effect on your art?

I would say that growing up so close to the Appalachian Mountains has definitely influenced my landscape paintings. I love the rich purples and blues of the Blue Ridge Mountains combined with the reds and yellows of the changing autumn leaves.

What did you do before devoting your life to art?

Art has always been one of the most important aspects of my life even from a young age. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would have a career in the arts.

How did you get a career as an artist?

My career as a professional artist started with the company I currently work for, World Art Group, and just celebrated my tenth anniversary. Shortly after graduation, while trying to decide if I would attend graduate school, a good friend of mine told me about a place that she worked that hand colored antiques and that I should apply for some part time work. Back then the company was known as Old World Prints. Neither my friend nor I knew then how much the company would grow and foster my love for art. What started as part time employment has led to a very fulfilling career.

What job did you have before becoming an artist?

The jobs I held before working as an artist were part time jobs during college but were all related to subjects I was passionate about in my life. For example, I worked as a cook at a country club, which allowed me to express my artistic side through designing dessert plates.

What is your biggest inspiration for art?

The human form has always been one of my favorite subjects and I am fascinated by its complexity and beauty. I studied Scientific/Medical Illustration in college and gained a deep understanding of human anatomy, which further increased my appreciation for the human figure.

What is one thing about you that most people don't know?

During my junior year at VCU I suffered a severe hand injury in which my nerves, tendons and artery were severed. After reconstructive surgery and months of physical therapy, I slowly began to regain use of my dominant hand. With limited mobility, I was forced to withdraw from school while I recovered. During this time, I began painting again since I was not yet coordinated enough to hold a pencil and execute the complex drawings required of a Scientific/Medical Illustrator. Today I am fortunate enough to have regained my abilities and acquired newfound strengths despite having lost feeling in my hand. This experience has made me a firm believer that the art is in the mind of the artist and not in the hand.

What art style do you classify your art as and why?

I would classify my style as a fusion of Classical and Contemporary. I was classical trained in oil painting while also learning to express my self through contemporary art in collage. I have sort of taken everything I've learned and combined it by rendering what would be considered classical subject matter in more contemporary ways.

What styles of art have you tried? Which is your favorite?

Over the years I have tried numerous styles of art from Art Deco to Contemporary Abstract. Currently, I am very fond of Impressionism. I feel the loose painterly brush stokes give the work a sort of energy instead of being so static. It is interesting to note that, although the brush stokes seem to be placed somewhat freely, a great deal of thought and purpose goes into the placement of each stroke.

What art pieces (if any) do you have on your walls?

I have Idyll by Gustav Klimt. This is one of my favorite paintings of his even though he painted as a student and it is in a totally different style than his other works which he is best known for. I also have Madame X by John Singer Sargent. I love this painting for its beautiful rendering of the human figure but also for the intriguing story that accompanies it. The fact that the strap of the dress was hanging off of the subject's shoulder was considered too provocative for the time despite being shown along with nudes in the same show. This compelled Sargent to go back and fix the strap. Finally, I have Romeo and Juliet by Sir Frances Bernard Dicksee. This is one of my favorite paintings because it was the first Christmas gift given to me by my then girlfriend who eventually would become my wife.
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