Harry T. Burleigh
Abstract and surrealistic works of art are thought to be esoteric in nature, and yet even within these groups, no two people will process what they are seeing in the same way.
For me, the adventure of creating a painting, is not knowing exactly what or who will appear before my eyes until the very seconds in which my brush touches the canvas. Not knowing if my three dimensional pieces will look as immaculate as they did when I had first imagined them. The medium makes no difference as long as the inspiration is present. The enveloping mystery of not being sure of the results, yet still being driven to produce them is what makes the effort of creation so captivating. The process is therapeutic and personal.
My influences are vast. My great-grandfather was a famous singer and spoke five languages. When I was much younger, I was shown a pencil sketch that he had made of a ship. I was truly impressed and though to myself, "Maybe I could do that too!"
I've had dozens of great teachers, most of whom had nothing to do with my formal education. Keeping an open mind and a creative spark have always led to new ideas and methods. Over the years, I've been inspired through an abundance of music, imagery, sounds, and from observing human nature.
My methods are perhaps a bit unconventional. Often times, I begin with listening to music while preparing whatever materials I intend to use. In the instance of painting, I put a few strokes on the canvas, then stand at a distance to see if anything comes to mind. If nothing does, I turn the canvas once or twice, add a few more strokes, then view it again. The first image that I get an impression of is the image that I then begin painting with conviction. If others start to appear, I include them. These works are not planned in advance.
In the instance of digital art, I use a three step process called tertiary compositing. This requires several physical pieces of art, a still camera, and computer software. The end result is a single image. Again, the overall thrill, is not knowing what the finished piece will look like. Intuitively knowing when a piece is finished is key.
Harry T. Burleigh was initially inspired to sketch as a youngster when he saw the uniqueness in the designs on record album covers. Several years later, he attended his first art class as a junior in high school, where his teacher saw that he had a developing talent and encouraged him keep sharpening his skills. Many of these skills he sharpened in the margins of his notebooks during chemistry class.
From his youth, he had always believed that art could be produced from any idea or medium. Years would pass however, before he would feel that he had actually proven this to anyone. He became bored with representational art and the seemingly dull titles that accompanied so many of these images.
At the age of eighteen, Harry was accepted into the art program at West Virginia University. His philosophy at this time, was that it was wise to keep a pool of artistic influences, however foolish to compromise his own creative integrity in order to please the faculty.
Burleigh was constantly drawn to artists who's works involved beauty, strangeness, or emotion. While he did pay close attention to some of the greats, he often wondered why others had become so overrated. He also disagreed with the theory, that everything one might create has already been created in the past. Not so with surrealism he thought. Not so with abstracts, and while he wasn't intending to elicit a specific response from onlookers, he always had their subconscious impressions in the cross hairs. He later received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art.
After spending a year as a commercial artist for a local television station, Burleigh decided to stop doing art for others and to just do it for himself. This lead to an extended career in video production, where he found himself writing, producing, and directing. He would continue to do art on the side, but he never showed it to anyone for two decades.
In a twist of fate, while editing one day, Harry stumbled upon a new way to digitally combine imagery in a way that he had never seen it done before. He later tried the technique with a few of his old artistic works and found that it truly had merit.
Harry Burleigh's artwork has now been in the public eye since 2006, although he seldom shows it to the rest of the world. His immediate plans are to expand his body of work while refining some of his discovered techniques. In the end his intentions are to share his ideas openly so that other artists may benefit from and possibly improve upon them.