Cynthia Cratsley-Harrington

The term “local artist” confuses me. Many of us think of the local artist as an individual creating and showing work within a specific geographic region (much like a regionalist). But what happens when a landscape artist starts creating work based on several regions or starts selling work in galleries in different states? Does the term describe an artist who is unwilling to take his or her show on the road or an artist obsessed with a particular region who recognizes the beauty of an area through his familiarity with it?

Cynthia Cratsley-Harrington is okay with being called a local artist and is, in fact, pretty proud of the label. Cynthia was born and raised in Odessa, New York lives with her family in the home she grew up in. She graduated with honors from Nazareth College in Rochester and studied art on the graduate level in Italy. If you have strolled by the windows of West End Gallery you may be familiar with her watercolor landscapes of the area surrounding the northern end of Seneca Lake.

Cynthia is an accomplished watercolorist and her subject matter has included her friends, her family, her pets, her beloved Fiestaware and the countryside around her home that she knows so well. Her love for the Finger Lakes area is clear from her watercolor landscapes that are oftentimes filled with the area’s architectural landmarks such as the barns, homes and churches that are dear to her

Watercolor painters have the ability to a control a media that resists control. In addition they have the skills to paint an area right the first time and resist the temptation to rework areas. Most importantly they have the vision to understand what skills and techniques will be necessary to complete a painting successfully and the right sequence to employ these techniques. In Cynthia’s work she blends hues in rich wet on wet gradients with no apparent brush strokes. Muddiness is only apparent in the areas that are in fact meant to be mud .She preserves her whites and knows how to achieve sharp edges that balance beautifully with her smooth blends and soft gradients. To be honest, I’m not sure what watercolorists do with salt, masking gel and sand paper, but I’m sure Cynthia has them nearby when she paints.

There are those artists whose work we know without looking at the signature or tag.  In Cynthia’s work there seems to be a little extra curl or bend in a contour. A slight imperfection in a line of perspective; An exaggerated arc on the edge of a lake. For me these elements tell me that the scene was drawn by the human hand and not traced, transferred or projected in the way that much representational work is done today.  The hand of the artist gives her work a unique flourish, or signature that makes it truly unique and identifiable as a Cratsley-Harrington.

Artists may sometimes be driven by desires to develop a national reputation or to achieve representation from a collection of galleries. What I love about Cynthia as an artist and person, is that she really doesn’t get caught up in climbing the artist ladder and perhaps this gives her work a greater sense of integrity. Her success as an artist is in that she is vested emotionally with her subjects and her watercolors, and takes pride in capturing the countryside that she has grown close to. If you happen to be in the Finger Lakes region, stop by and see our local artists… they can’t be seen anywhere else.

—-Posted by Brian Hart


One Response to Cynthia Cratsley-Harrington

  1. Parnilla Carpenter says:

    Brian, I really like what you said about being “drawn by the human hand.” To me that is always an important element. Cynthia brings joy to the surface in her work. The colors and subjects are all things we can relate to, and often things we have in our cupboards or gardens. Comforting and familiar. Beautiful!

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