Sweet Home Foods 

Jennifer Harwell  1956-2013

For self-taught painter Jennifer Harwell, creating art was never about being safe. Rather, she painted from a very open place - a receptive spirit that was broken and mended , so it held out hope and healing to others. Jennifer was also clearly attached to each acrylic she brought to life with her palette knife.

I call them by name, touching them, placing them under the light to see their full beauty. I do this daily, as I enter the gallery each morning and leave each evening.”

Harwell, who left a deep void with her passing in August, 2013, actually didn’t start painting on canvas until the age of 49. But she always had an appreciation for the creative process. Her father was a printer and her grandmother designed clothing. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, she rode her bike through Oregon’s shimmering vineyards, absorbing the magnificent hues surrounding her.

The extremes of bold colors for most of my work, and all white tone-on-tone on other works represents the absence of what’s in the middle, which is milk toast,” remarked Harwell, who rarely used a brush and often dirtied her paints with smudges of one or more unstirred colors. “To live vibrantly and think positively are personal quests that show up in my painting style. Nearing the end of a painting the last thing I do is look for the drama. I look for the extraordinary touch of genius."

Influenced by Van Gogh, Rothko, Clyfford Still and LeRoy Neiman, Harwell masterfully painted florals and landscapes during her career, but will always be best known for her beloved angels.

They materialize in all shapes and sizes and purposes, from very small to towering warrior angels, maternal guardian angels, dancing and obviously celebratory angels, to quiet ones with wings folded and heads bowed," Harwell explained." I never paint angels slowly and deliberately or they may be gone before I get to it. They can’t be contrived. I don’t look at pictures, I just get movement going on the canvas and they come.

The vistas have also been known to bring tears to my viewers. They’re purposely not titled landscapes because they’re more ethereal and start out as just the movement of color and manipulation of the paint. The most profound vistas are the most simplistic, not tampered with at all after the first session, and yet there is something discernible in the distance."

Husband Donny says his wife was compelled to express herself each day at her easel. “Her inspiration for a painting normally rushed out fast. She liked to paint in public. And she did so in her studio with the blinds on the windows open where at least a 1,000 people walked by daily. She was often asked what makes art great, and her reply came from the Andy Warhol quote ‘art that sells’. By Warhol’s standards, her art is great.”

Recognizing the need to expose her work to a wider audience, Harwell in recent years had expanded her repertoire to include her interpretations of classic sports images. The Harwells produced “The Crimson Collection” , a coffee table book that includes art, essays , prints and photographs honoring the University of Alabama’s National Championship history. They also successfully started a wine business.

Jennifer grew up in wine country and we both enjoyed drinking good wines, so we began searching for ways to become involved in the industry. It became evident very quickly that neither of us was prepared to buy or build a winery business, so we traveled down the road looking for other ways to shape our involvement and it was through putting her art on the labels that she began building this business. The right wineries were found to bottle and cellar the wine."

Harwell, who often used wood and hollow doors for canvases, considered her style mostly fitting the abstract expressionists of the era between the Impressionist and Pop artists. A gifted artist who gave back to her community, Harwell had a profound influence on those who mourn the loss of an amazing talent. But she continues to touch the lives of so many who proudly display her inspired art on their walls.

"Jennifer is still with us."