Viewing a B. Chrisse Harwanko painting is to be entranced, almost hypnotized – there is so much to see. The longer one spends studying one of her paintings the more details emerge.
The reason may have to do with how the ocean has influenced Harwanko’s life. Being an avid scuba diver for over 40 years, and an underwater photographer for almost as many years, has contributed to how she poetically interprets the marine images she sees underwater. As you pause to enjoy all the textures and movement of her works of art, elements of the sea draw you in close to find unique hidden interpretations of marine life.
While Harwanko’s works in the past have been a mix of representational and expressionist art, her newest works come purely from the deeps of her soul she says. “I like the mystery and the magic that happens with more abstraction of the image I am creating, as I remember the underwater scenes,” she asserts. Her recent works have also been heavily influenced by her respect and love for Mother Earth, in particular the sea inhabitants. She hopes to help in preserving Earth’s most vast precious resource—the sea by bringing more awareness through her art.
Harwanko mostly paints in acrylic but sometimes includes other media for added texture. She becomes completely immersed while painting. “I get totally lost in it- the shapes, forms and colors. It is so peaceful, so meditative – I’m on another planet.”
In reality, Harwanko was born in Delaware, USA and graduated with a degree in Art from the University of Delaware. During the last 45 years she has lived between Japan and Panama. Harwanko has studied art under Al Sprague, Ricaurte Martinez and Jorge March and has been a teacher of art for decades.
Currently, Harwanko is located in Playa El Palmar in Panama. She continues to teach art, photograph sea life, and paint in her seaside home (affectionately called La Gorgonia in tribute to her favorite soft corals of the sea). There have been exhibitions of Harwanko’s paintings in the US, Italy, Japan and Panama. Numerous painting and photo awards have been given for her works since 1972. Her art and photography can be found in collections around the world.