Harriet Livathinos was born in Dallas, Texas, received her BA in Art and Education at North Texas State University in Denton, Texas, studied at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and received her MA in Painting and Printmaking at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. After graduate school, she moved to New York City and worked as a paste-up and layout artist in the advertising department of JC Penney’s. From there she moved to Wilton, Connecticut to teach art in three of their public schools.
The next summer she took a trip with a friend to Europe, expecting to find a teaching job somewhere along their route. When they reached Greece, she applied for a job and found one, teaching elementary school outside Athens, at The Ursuline School, in the foothills of Mt. Pendeli. She taught there for five years. During that time she did a great deal of traveling and painting, and was given two solo shows in Athens.
After leaving Greece, she moved back to Dallas, Texas, found work as a social worker, and produced many paintings based on her travels. She was given two solo shows during that period. In 1985, she had the opportunity to move to New York City and start a temporary employment service there with an old friend. Swing Shift developed clients looking for graphic artists and was a vital business for twenty-two years. During that time, she painted, took classes at the Art Students’ League, and was given two solo shows in Southampton, NY and one in East Hampton, NY.
She then moved to Woodstock, NY, later Kingston, NY, and in 2009 started taking abstract drawing classes with Meredith Rosier at the Woodstock School of Art. Since then, she has exhibited her drawings in Woodstock, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Catskill, Stone Ridge, Glens Falls, New Paltz, Southampton, Hudson, NY, and Pittsburgh and Reading, PA, Nacogdoches TX, West Hartford, CT, and New York City. She was given a solo show at the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum and is the recipient of their Sally Jacobs/Phoebe Towbin Award. She was also selected to create an 11 panel installation at the Carter Burden Gallery in NYC.
Several of her paintings are represented in the collection of the United States Embassy in Athens, Greece. Her work is also in private collections in Greece, Italy, England, New York, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Michigan, Virginia, Washington State, and Connecticut.
Wherever I live and work, my inspiration is consistently whetted by the available landscape, whether it be mountains, forests, water, or cloud formations. My work up until 2009 consisted mainly of impressionist landscape or cityscape oil paintings. Although I am now deeply immersed in the practice of abstract drawing, my work is very nature based, aiming to produce the feeling or suggestion of some aspect of attitude toward humans, animals or landscapes.
My immersion in abstract drawing often involves making compositions using the repetition of interwoven gestural lines and marks. These and the qualities of various line weights are my tools for exploration of air, density, and depth—my means for expressing the tangible and intangible, feeling and raw energy. Everywhere I look, particularly in landscape, I see lines forming the skeletons of shapes, and marks providing textures and variety. In general, I’m exploring the use of formal elements to serve expressive purposes, and it is a thrilling journey.
My practice thus far involves employing graphite, conte crayon, pastels, charcoal and mixed colored inks on a variety of surfaces–-pastel and printmaking papers, smooth, rough and handmade, cardboard, graph paper, sandpaper, canvas, vellum, Mylar drafting film, and Yupo plastic paper, using a variety of implements from twigs to typewriter, including all manner of brushes, pens and pencils.
The opportunities afforded by ink to express what is difficult to say in other media, I find intriguing. The fact that it is a flowing medium that can be poured, dripped, splattered, blotted, or directed, gives me an intuitive vocabulary rich in emotional potential for examining the subconscious. It spreads with water, puddles and dries, forming lines impossible to get any other way. A water-filled brush can coax the ink into unexplored territory, and a nearly dry brush can pull out a form in a still damp area. My search for surprise and invention is often fulfilled with ink’s affinity for transparent overlay and interlacing of shapes.