My strongest influences have been the expressionists, who often had something to say about our society, not always in a flattering way.  Painters like Jack Levine, Raphael Soyer, the great Russian artist Kathe Kollwitz, and Philip Evergood are a few artists whose work I’ve admired over the years.  And I must also include Edward Hopper. 

I also have a theatre background, so I think my work is informed by that, as well.  When I’m painting, I sometimes feel like a “director,” arranging the elements – the “actors” – on a stage with a “set” or backdrop.  Character is important to me, so I like to pay attention not the details of faces.  When you have a grouping of people, then you’re contending with how they “relate” to each other.  Or how they may not seem to relate at all, which then creates a kind of tension in the piece. 

But I seldom have all the answers before I start in.  I don’t plan everything in advance.  I often get into the work and find that I don’t have a clue about where I’m going.  When that happens, then, you just have to listen to what the painting tells you to do. 

Sometimes it works.  – Grayson Harper


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