welcome to the muse series! this week i connected with Harlie, a visual artist who creates intuitive, abstract paintings, homewares and sustainably created limited edition wearable artworks that explore colour, emotion, nature and the female muse. harlie's work is free-flowing and inspired by seasonal changes, as well as shapely and expressive female forms. you can view her work here or visit her instagram account.
Your artwork explores nature and the female muse. Why is representing the female form in all shapes and sizes important to you and how did this come about?
My love for figurative painting came about whilst I was going through a really intense break up… My self esteem and own body image was incredibly damaged and I found myself painting figures without even realising. I asked my dear friends for images and they were more than happy to comply!
It was so lovely to paint the strong, independent and confident females in my life and painting them made me feel at peace and distracted my mind. All of a sudden, friends of friends were asking for commissions and it slowly grew this way. Seeing how empowered and uplifted these females were when they received their commissions brought me great satisfaction. People still commission pieces of themselves to celebrate themselves, whether that be growing a child, overcoming an illness or just being them!
Alongside taking inspiration from nature, you often paint in beautiful secluded spots. How does this support your practice and wellbeing?
I absolutely adore nature and being outside, so to paint my pieces in the thick of nature brings me great joy. It couldn’t be more calming to paint surrounded by the sound of water and with the colour green all around (my favourite colour).
What advice would you give to others looking to reconnect with nature?
Find a big break in your diary, head somewhere and just keep on walking! You will stumble across all different kinds of places - take something that you enjoy too, whether that be music, a notepad and paintbrush, a journal or even a bottle of wine and a blanket.
There is a real sense of calm across everything you create - especially within your paintings. Is this a conscious element of your work?
This is so kind, thank you. This is not a conscious element at all so it is lovely to hear that! I love pretty things, I love the great outdoors and I love pastels colours, so maybe all of these things tie in together to create this effect.
What does intuitive creative expression look like to you? Is there a time or place where you feel most free to express this?
I feel most free to express creativity when I am alone with my thoughts and with zero distractions - I think this is why I am a big night owl, as theres no distractions and it’s usually pretty silent so I can think clearly about ideas and new colour palettes etc.
What does self-care look like to you? How do you practice this?
Self-care to me is taking a walk in the woods with my dogs and shutting off for a bit. There’s a lot of parts of my job that aren’t just sitting and painting (unfortunately haha) so I’m extremely grateful that for the parts that I do get to sit still and let my mind wander, they’re usually when I’m painting. So I’d call painting a form of my self care too! I have recently got more into skincare too which I know many people use a form of self care, so I’m looking forward to trying the Palm of Feronia moon balm and gua sha tool and implementing them into my routine.
Is there anything you're reading, watching, or listening to that you're finding particularly inspiring or helpful right now?
I am a big Laura Marling fan but realise the other day that I hadn’t listened to her in ages! So I’ve had her playlists back on rotation - I was listening to The Water by her and Johnny Flynn recently as I was painting a nature commission based on Cornwall which was really, really lovely.