Born 1983, Derek Harrison began pursuing art since he was able to hold a pencil. It all began as an innocent journey of exploration and the excitement that came with applying a vision to a piece of paper. In later years Derek was consistently dabbling in art, always drawing, painting, etc...Initially the inspiration from graffiti played a large role in the type of art he was doing. Following years of experimentation with spray paint and eventually transitioning to canvas, Derek landed a tattoo apprenticeship with Colorado artist Brad Cramer. The formative years were spent drawing every minute of the day into tattooing full time for the next several years. In 2009 Derek made the move to Southern California, working in both Los Angeles and landing at his current home and studio in Santa Barbara.
Tattooing on the coast of California was incredibly inspirational and that's where the true journey of his painting would begin. Fellow tattoo artist and contemporary painting phenomenon Shawn Barber had recently moved into a new studio space in Los Angeles. This is where Derek began taking painting workshops on a regular basis. Two years later and he says "Shawn opened my mind to the revelation that art is not an innate "talent," it's the culmination of knowledge, study and relentless work. I wouldn't be where I am today without Shawn's influence and help. He instilled the values of hard work and determination relating to the pursuit of one's craft." After studying with Shawn Derek began a rigorous amount of self-study and began taking classes and workshops with other artists such as Sean Cheetham, Jeremy Lipking, Sergio Sanchez, Jeff Gogue and several others. He attended and gained an amazing academic foundation and approach at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art. All of this time was spent painting directly from life. "These years of self-study and learning from some of the best artists living today has provided me with the means to carry out my own visual expressions to the fullest."
Derek's work has become one that combines aspects of the old masters and the admiration for artists such as John Singer Sargent and William Adolf Bouguereau with contemporary subjects and settings. After spending six years working as a tattoo artist in addition to painting, Derek made the transition to working full time as a fine artist in 2011. Fine art became his true calling and he quickly rose to be one of the most exciting contemporary realist painters today. His work is figurative in nature and portrays the world in which he lives and the people whom inhabit it. "My aim is to convey the inspiration and beauty in the subjects and settings I paint. Art has the amazing capacity to connect with all people." He has shown in numerous gallery exhibitions worldwide, has had his work feautured in several magazines and books and has won awards for his portrait and figurative pieces. He says, "My hope is to bring the amazing qualities that many years of study and experience have lead me to understand and appreciate. I strive to express this through my work and create pieces that are moving, thought provoking and inspiring."
Member of the prestigious California Art Club Member of the Portrait Society of America
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