Artist Spotlight: Harley Fisher

One of Western Reserve Academy’s most prominent artists is Harley Fisher ’19. When she was just twelve, her aunt and uncle introduced her to the animated film Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki. This movie inspired her to start drawing; she loved the movie so much that she started drawing scenes from it. “Soon, I had drawn every single scene I could think of from that film,” she recalled. From there, she explored caricature drawings and, eventually, realism.

It has been a full two years since Fisher first arrived at WRA, and her art style has improved drastically over this time. She has taken great strides in realistic art as well as her grip on anatomy. As her art style has “grown up,” as she playfully put it, she has been able to develop her very own unique and recognizable style

Fisher enjoys variety in the tools she uses. She not only uses pencil and charcoal for her drawings but also paints with acrylics and watercolors. More recently, Fisher has expanded into digital art. In fact, she is currently working on her very first digital animatic. Her favorite medium, however, is currently charcoal with acrylic implements. “I think a simplistic color palette plus the finite details you can get in with charcoal is so gorgeous,” she commented. Fisher first employed charcoal in her freshman year, and she has been using it ever since.

Despite the difficulties in finding time for hobbies at WRA, Fisher’s art career is flourishing more than ever. She is taking Studio Art, which allows her to have an hour in the art room at least every other day so she can work with paints and make something. Additionally, sometimes if she has trouble sleeping and she is in the mood, she will paint for a bit. When describing her artistic process, Fisher remarked, “You can’t rush it,… you have to have the inspiration to do it.” So, whenever she has the inspiration, she will paint.

Her favorite artist is Gerda Elbe, a Danish artist who painted in the early 1920s. Her wife was Lili Elbe, the first woman to undergo transitioning surgery, and she was the primary focus of Gerda’s portraits. “The resilience of the reason why she painted really resounds with me,” Fisher reflected. Gerda’s style is not hyper-realistic like many of the classical artists, but instead employs the artistic characteristics common at the time, including expressive gestures and more geometric shapes. Fisher also enjoys Vincent Van Gogh’s work, specifically his Starry Night, as well as the style Miyazaki employs in his movies.

To this day, one critical source of Fisher’s inspiration is the landscapes in cartoons and animated movies. She also takes inspiration from song lyrics and musicals she enjoys, along with the flowers and plants she sees as she walks by. However, Fisher explained, “I’m inspired mostly by the artists that I look up to, the cool things that I’ve seen online or in the art room, that I can integrate into my own style.” Thanks to social media, she has the ability to follow many artists and appreciate their artwork, as well as find different styles she likes.

Fisher advises aspiring artists to not give up on any of their dreams. Because young artists her age do not necessarily have to decide on a career right now, Fisher encourages them to try new things and not be discouraged by any difficulties they may encounter. “If you want to be an artist,” she elaborated, “you can be an artist. While it takes practice and dedication and tears and graphite…, if you love it enough, you will put in the time and you will get better and you will succeed.”

– Elizabeth Wren ’20

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