Harrell to celebrate 40 years as an artist

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Bogalusa native Willard Harrell is about to celebrate a significant anniversary, and everyone is invited to join in the festivities.

Harrell has been a professional artist for 40 years. His distinctive, primarily watercolor, works revel in light and shadow, and the simplicity of rural life.

His paintings radiate a charm that is colorful, either in fact or in essence, which hearkens to more peaceful and natural times gone-by.

Harrell earned a Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1966. After that, he worked for three different local finance companies before his then-wife, Martha, gave her approval for him to try his hand at being a full-time artist with the caveat that he could always go back to his finance work if necessary.

Times were tough early on, and the couple had to sell their house and to cut back on expenses, Harrell said.

“If it were not for Martha, I’d still be in the finance business,” he said. “It was a life-changing time in my life.”

They persevered, and four decades later Harrell’s success is apparent.

He’s done nearly 1,000 commissioned pieces of art, and more than 2,500 paintings and drawings.

With numerous awards under his belt, he is also listed on the Louisiana State Artist Roster, an appointment by the state Office of Cultural Development and Division of the Arts, which recognizes outstanding representatives of their artistic disciplines.

Harrell is additionally a member of the Washington Art Association, and says he is “dedicated to the community.” That dedication includes teaching art at the Bogalusa YMCA under a state grant.

Now, a couple of members of the community are giving back to the artist.

Kurt and Judy Wamsley will host a 40th Anniversary Art Show and celebration for Harrell at The Golden Pear on Louisiana Avenue from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

Harrell has created some new watercolor paintings for the special showing, and, besides artwork, there will be door prizes and refreshments.

Kurt Wamsley said he is delighted to take the opportunity to show off Harrell and his work.

“Judy was a student of his some time back,” he said. “We’re friends. And we love his art!”