Visiting Cristall Harper


A few months ago I came across an art show going up in Utah. It was called Certain Women. As I read their roster there were a few names I recognized and one that pop brightly, Cristall Harper.

In college we worked at the same place and when I learned she was an art major, I looked up to her and wished we could rub shoulders a little more.

I hesitantly contacted her once I found her. She is a busy artist after all!
But with arms and heart open, she welcomed me into her studio.

We had a lovely visit that made up for all the times I wished I could have shared with her forever ago.
She was generous with her time and in sharing her process and I got to get so close to her paintings I could almost touch them with my nose. It was an amazing experience.

She was working on a 3’x4’ big painting (I am Peaceful - below) with yellow flowers that were very free and impressionistic. The textures she builds layer by layer are free and methodical, drips and splashes that combined with her thoughtful brushstrokes make amazing compositions. It is almost like an optical illusion to see them super close and then back up and admire the whole picture. Her style is so free and her figures so precise.

I am Peaceful, oil painting by Cristall Haper

I am Peaceful, oil painting by Cristall Haper

Cristall starts with a shape map of her composition that she draws with water soluble pencils, then begins the painting process with layers of acrylic paint. Acrylic lends itself to be used thick or thin and dry fast. After that she adds final layers in oil, with a varnish layer when done. Found this great video of her describing her process.

Golden Days of Summer, by Cristall Harper

Golden Days of Summer, by Cristall Harper

Cristall told me, she started with small paintings until she figure out the what and how. In practice and doing she has found the answers. The key principles: consistent work and listening to her heart.

Friendship, oil painting by Cristall Harper

Friendship, oil painting by Cristall Harper

She runs her business, but doesn’t do it all. It’s all about knowing what you can do and simplifying things; to get into the painting part, into art making. Cristall and her husband Matthew, pair up their talents. Matt, who can build just about anything, makes her panels. She makes them come to life.

She is represented by Astoria Fine Art in Jackson, WY and Gallery MAR in Park City, UT. and in describing her representation she said “[galleries] are like shoes, you have to try them, to know if they are the right one” and she has found two that fit her well.

You must check out her work, it is delightful

I loved how open, kind and utterly positive she was about sharing, being an artist, encouraging me and feeling excited for a beginner. It was very touching and pumped me up. I felt cared for, and that I am not alone that my initial steps are similar to the ones she has taken and that I am on my own good track. An added bonus was to be able to order panels from Matthew, highly highly recommend Harper & Company, Inc. (801-472-1211), wish you could touch this panels!

Panels by Matthew Harper, Harper & Co.