The Creative Process with artist Harlie Briggs
"I celebrate the female form because society decides not to."
How would you describe your art to someone who is not an artist?
My main focus is painting abstract nudes (I do also paint abstract nature pieces). My practice involves inviting women to share their nude and raw selves with me which I then transform into a piece of abstract art. Inviting others into my work means it becomes a beautiful collaboration, where the art would not be possible without the muse. I’m really grateful for the trust that is put in me for the whole process. The best part is seeing the women’s reactions when they look at the painting for the first time. They see how truly beautiful they are, just the way they are.
What is the process behind creating a new piece of art?
I seek inspiration from the nude images that women share with me. Each time I sit down to paint a new piece, what comes out onto the canvas is completely different. It depends on the colours I see in the image. And the mood that I am in. People generally trust me with whatever way the painting goes and that in itself gives me the space to be creative with each piece.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
To make this practice my job has always been a dream. I have always been drawing and painting. On walls, sofas, mirrors.... you name it. This seems to have circled round and I am still drawing and painting on walls, vases, tables and more. I have always felt at peace when painting.
How has COVID impacted artists?
COVID may have impacted artists by preventing exhibitions and workshops, but in a way it has given artists time to breathe, to reflect on their work and to think of new concepts.
What drives you on?
The more people that share their nude images with me, the more it makes me realise that I am doing something that makes people feel good. This drives me to create more work on the female body and hopefully one day to make a wider impact within communities.
What other artists do you love?
For nude inspiration my favourite artists are Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud; their colour palettes are mainly neutral and the energy that they capture in their paintings is mesmerising. You created two beautiful pieces for The Motherhood Prints.
You created two beautiful pieces for The Motherhood Prints. Can you tell us a bit more about them?
The pieces took me back to thinking of my own mother when she was pregnant; she loved pregnancy and carrying a life (so much so that she did it four times)! I wanted to capture the joy of the final trimester. I feel strongly about breastfeeding being normalised and the fact that breasts are serving a purpose. A female, with or without breasts, who is able to bring life into this world and nurture and grow that life using her body, who is then told to cover up and is restricted… that astounds me.
What are your favourite things, in life generally?
Swimming in open water, being outside in nature, animals, good food and great company.
And finally (a big one to end on!) what is the greatest challenge of our time?
Getting all people on this Earth to appreciate women and accept their bodies in all shapes and sizes. My work is constantly being shadow banned, restricted and taken down for being ‘sexually explicit’. I still struggle to get my head around it. I strive to normalise the naked body and will continue to represent the female body.