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When I met Harley Brown.

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

This newsletter is ALWAYS chock-a-block FULL of great learning tips, and as you know, no one INVENTS art - techniques are shared and evolved upon, when masters teach students and students share with other students, who share with the teacher, who give workshops, and so on, and so on, and so on… At great risk of sounding like the fan-boy I am, I would like to acknowledge a very special artist, whose name is Harley Brown.

I met Harley Brown around 30 years ago when I worked in a small art store that shall remain nameless. He walked into the store, proceeded to the paper rack and bought some 40 or 50 sheets of pastel paper. My eyes bugged out bigger than our Kaiser buns and so, I asked him what he might be doing. He said he was doing a pastel workshop in town. I said, “that’s interesting. Not a lot of people do pastels.” He said, “You’d be surprised … there’s a whole lot of us out there.” I asked who he was, and he said he was “Harley Brown”. I laughed out loud and then said “aaaahhhhh Like the REAL Harley Brown, dude?… (Remember, I’m barely in my 20’s at that time). He looked around the room then looked at me and said “Yeah dude, I’m Harley Brown” then smiled at me with that toothy Harley grin, then invited me to a hall to watch his demo. I was stunned. I went. I was mesmerized. Completely hooked. The very next day I spent some 300 dollars on pastels. Donna, my wife at the time asked “what we are going to do for food seeing as we have no money left? I said “With these pastels, I will make more money for you than you will ever want, and you can eat anything you want. But for today… probably tomato soup!” At the demo, my head was teeming with all the knowledge I was getting in such a short time. A few years later I was present to see Harley be honoured at the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.

There too, he did yet another demo and again, completely mesmerized me. He did something called breaking the surface of the paper. Getting the bad juju out of the paper so you can put some art down. Scaring the scariness out white blankness of the paper as he put it. Nothing is more intimidating than that big blank surface. He rubbed a few random marks on the paper. “broke the surface” and away he went without fear. The museum was full of all his wonderful paintings but the funniest thing about it was that he was being honoured in a museum for a lifetime achievement award type thing, and yet I don’t even think he was even close to reaching the top of his game. Since then I have followed him religiously. He has written a few books (all of which are out-of-print) but has landed on my top10. WELL GUESS WHAT? I’m sure because we have badgered him incessantly for years upon years, he finally decided to relent and republish this book, which has been out-of-print for years!

This is by FAR one of the most useful art books ever written. One of the easiest reads with the most useful information. Harley’s art in this book is done in pastel but all the information contained has nothing to do with the different types of art media. The lessons contained have to do with art. PERIOD. I’m not sure how much you’d pay for a week’s worth of lessons with an artist. I do know how much you’d pay to take a workshop, let alone go to the United States to attend a workshop from a guy like him, and pay airfare, hotel and workshop fees, and the occasional beverage. When you consider all that, I can tell you now, that the price of this book is so cheap in comparison that every artist on the planet should have this book in their collection.

Like Your friend in art, dude, ( I’m still in my 20’s)



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1 Comment

Dale White
Dale White
Sep 27, 2022

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