Inside the Studio: Harry Moody (USA)

IMG_4776Harry Moody in his California studio.

Favorite material to work with?
Oil. This has many advantages, foremost because no other pigment combination (such as acrylic, tempera, etc.) offers the same luminance or transparency that oil does. Also, I work  “wet on wet”.  Only oil allows for this. A painting can take days/weeks to finish, so I add clove oil (which can only be mixed with oil paint) in order to keep the painting wet; this slows down the drying process. The down side of this (aside from the fact that it takes a long time to clean up), is that a finished painting can take up to three months before it is “transport” dry.  However, I think the results are well worth it. Last but not least, oil ages very well.  Just look at an old master or a classic modern.  The colors are just as vibrant, if not better, than the day they were painted.

IMG_4603Harry at work on one of his paintings.

What themes do you pursue?
Currently only one: the abstract—which is not saying I don’t have different bodies of work.  Theme?  This question somehow reminds me of the obligatory “artist statement,” which is always very difficult for me to write. I mean, if I were able to articulate my thoughts, feelings, and intuitive knowledge in words, then I probably would not have the need to paint and would instead be writing about them. As it is, the painting or the visual experience has been the best way for me to express that which I cannot formulate in words. I will say that for me, abstract best reflects my current curiosity, my search (investigations) and musings over how we see things. As an art student, I was disciplined to translate what my eye sees and not what my mind thinks that it sees. When I look at representational art, I ask myself, “What am I really seeing?  What is the reality?”  I have realized that I see an illusion of a reality, but not the reality. This illusion is compounded by my normal internal chatter and automated set of associations. Also, I have a language that I use to interpret what I think I see. With abstraction there is no rehearsed language that I can use.

IMG_4790Some of Harry’s works in his studio.

How many years as an artist?
Literally, all of my life. I started drawing obsessively at the age of four. I mean the whole day, sheet after sheet. Then, around the age of 16-17, when one starts to think about what you are going to do with your life, I basically divided the world into two halves, the subjective and the objective: the world of thought, feelings, emotion, and the intangible; versus the world of science, proven fact, or the tangible. I opted for the subjective world and never looked back.

IMG_4735One of his works in progress.

Where is your studio?
My BRAND NEW workshop is located in a small village up in the foothills of Montrose, which is just a few miles north of LA. I like it very much because the mountains are right up in your face and it reminds me very much of my years spent in Lugano, Switzerland.

IMG_4742Harry at work in his studio.

Art school or self-taught?
Both. I studied formally at the Staedel Art Academy in Frankfurt, Germany. All courses were fundamental and mandatory for the first two years. Students were on their own for the next three years, meaning that all exploring—which was usually through trial and error—was done independently. I am still today teaching myself, which I think is critical for my own growth. If I don’t grow, or am not challenged, then I might as well go mow the lawn. It’s the same difference.

IMG_4757Adding some finishing touches.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I worked ten years in silence. I did not want my sense of reality to be affected by illusions that music might induce. But then I rediscovered classic rock on the radio. I think it was a déjà vu experience for me.  I spent my student years in the midst of the music and art revolution during the late 1960s and 70s. I do compare my work sometimes to basic rock and roll:  four colors (four chords), and then comes the mixture (rhythm).  When I am in a critical work mode, though, it makes no difference. I’m oblivious to everything.  It’s just the art and me.

IMG_4765The final product.

What’s around the corner from your place?
A Chinese restaurant, an Italian pizzeria, an Indian restaurant, a hair salon, and a karate studio.  And then there are mountains two or three streets over.  I’m still new here, so I haven’t really thought about what to think about my neighbors; but it’s an interesting combination, borderline surreal, considering that I am in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_4795Another view of Harry’s studio.

Where can we find you outside of the studio?
Maybe fly fishing somewhere in the middle of the desert, which I didn’t think was possible until a fellow artist colleague told me. I googled it, and sure enough it said one could go fly fishing 45 minutes away from downtown LA. I usually pack my big Canon camera or my smart phone and take photos of nature compositions that I eventually use for my abstracts. It makes no difference if I catch a fish or not. The other place you might find me would be up the street at a local European café that bakes with imported dough from France. Most people would try looking first in the café before venturing off into the desert to find me, or just phone. I will be somewhere.


“edition red white blue # 6/7”

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
That has always been my biggest problem. I haven’t been able to do anything else other than art in everything I do. I have tried to get away from art many times. My colleagues and friends, including professors from my Frankfurt Staedel days, would always remind me that I am one of them. This is my roll of the dice. It has been, and still is, a journey with no destination.


“abstract tweet # 12”

Favorite contemporary artist?
I have many favorites, especially here on Saatchi Art. It goes without saying that Gerhard Richter is very high on my list, but so are many other contemporaries.  Many artists have influenced me, past and present.  Some I have met personally, and others I can only admire from afar. What I like about Saatchi Art is that I get a broad overview of other artists. And, to my pleasant surprise, I often find like-minded colleagues who share the same struggles and aspirations that I do.


“abstract tweet # 6 with left over paint”

What do you collect?
Very little. If anything at all then it would be the nonchalant, the insignificant, the overlooked, the understated, something that has charm, yet is more elusive than obvious.


“blue abstract horizon # 19”

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
There has been lots of advice, but the one that sticks out is: “ Inspiration is for amateurs.” Art is work. Of course attitude can either make it fun or a burden. I also like: “Understand your limitations and use them as an asset.” In other words, if you can’t draw a perfect portrait, then stop frustrating yourself. Draw what you can and make it into your own style.


“edition jade # 1/10”

Day job?
It always has been art in one manifestation or the other. I guess it is an understatement to say that it can get bumpy financially; but we all have to do something, and we have to take risks. Art, life, and the uncertainty go hand in hand for me. It has been the uncertainty that creates the dynamic to be inventive and resourceful. It’s also the most trying. The challenge forces me to be motivated and to stay on my toes.


“art sketch III # 2”

Is painting dead?
This is a fun and loaded question. According to Duchamp, (and quoting Gerhard Richter), the answer would be “yes.” From my point of view, this holds some truth. I think this has more to do with the fact that the definition of “art” has expanded explosively into many different mediums and technologies. This literally creates a constant demand for something “new.” Who remembers the ordinary, until the special becomes ordinary, and thus the cycle continues. I find it amazing when I look around and I see “paint” being integrated everywhere into our daily lives; I get the feeling that it is all taken for granted. Streets are painted with symbols and lines; houses, the walls in our rooms, cars, advertisement packaging, textiles, clothes, toys—these all use color (alias paint). It is all the same pigment. For me, the reality is that the possibilities in painting remain infinite. Just picking up and following the footsteps where another artist (i.e. Paul Klee) left off would be a lifetime job.


“abstract purple # 4”

Favorite brush?
Short of my fingers, I use many tools to apply paint. Some of my brushes are 15 -20 years old. I also have an array of palette knifes, probably every size, form, and shape that are available on the market. I also use masonry trowels and self-made squeegees. I apply large quantities of paint manually onto the surface. The quickest and most even method that I have found is using a trowel or a squeegee. Once the paint is on the canvas, though, it is a whole different arena. Then all tools come into question.


“abstract red # 11”


  1. Stephen Hall says:

    Harry, I appreciate your cogent answers to the questions. Your paintings engage me, particularly “abstract tweet #12.”

  2. Alena says:

    Nice art I like structures. I like your style.

  3. Vladimir says:

    Love your work!! Congrats!

  4. Amazing work, I love to see pure, paint, expression. Also love your tools especially the big trowel.

  5. Richard says:

    Harry, it speaks to me. Love you, brother.

  6. Tom says:

    Wonderful, Harry. I love the feeling, the colors, and the movement. Tom H

  7. Patrick Hillard says:

    Blue abstract horizon # 19, WOW!, and Harry, I love your studio, and so clean.

  8. Hi Harry, great interview really. I completely get what you wrote about ‘the artist’s statement’ as it is so difficult for me as well. I absolutely love ‘abstract purple #4’
    Your colours are so vibrant yet- not in your face. There’s such a continuity and fluid motion in your work. It just sort of evokes this feeling of beautiful simplicity. Thank you! Janel

  9. Wish I was computer literate in which case I could post my art onto a web site. I too have been drawing and painting since very young and still have a lot of my “baby” art 1941 even.
    What I do today is very geometric and done with black thick pens and sometimes silver and gold or even red rarely, which cannot be described, plus many other styles, including pencil portraits etc.
    Your work is lovely but nothing like mine. All the best,

  10. Wittebol says:

    Artist’s Statement = Sketching a picture with words.

    So what’s so complicated about that?

    Nice work though …

  11. Hi Larry, interesting point of view.. thanks so much for sharing! BB

  12. Kaye Williams says:

    Great article, I love the quotes, I will save them for inspiration :-) Nice work. Shirley, you really owe it to us all to get some help to get your work online…there are free tutorials on youtube, and you can google for info. on how to build (or get help to build) a simple website!

  13. Hi Harry,

    I just LOVE your colors – strong and yet dreamy – although I do not paint abstract myself – but who knows, maybe I should give it a try! – to me your ideas stem from natures sometimes unbelievable colors – I too am obsessed by colors – congratulations from Berit

  14. Sanri-Jose says:

    Very Gerhard Richter like

  15. I like your work and your dialogue with the interviewer!

  16. Me agrada la combinación de colores, aquí el color toma un protagonismo que campea por toda la composición. Es en tal sentido pintura pura.

  17. Fedele says:

    Burning question… How do you keep your walls so white?

  18. Rubens says:

    I have seen your works…

    1 question..??..!?…..

    As you know may be the artist Gerhard Richter….

    Why working in his field???

    gr Rubens

  19. Dear Harry,

    Thank you for an engaging and inspirational interview. I can see how Richter inspires you. I am an abstract artist myself and I understand that it can be difficult to define themes however I have also been encouraged to speak about my work coherently. Abstract artists have a danger of being ‘found out’ if they cannot intellectualise their practice. It is a burden but it does make me think. I believe your answers are a reflection of your practise. They are not vague as Abstraction could be perceived but rather philosophical and touch on the genre’s true identity.

    I love LA and have been thinking about moving out there to paint. Your studio is so jammy. They are difficult to find here in London without paying extortionate amounts.

    It would be great if you have the chance to look at my work and if you are interested I would genuinly love to collaborate.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,


  20. Michael Puya says:

    your art caught my attention. interesting abstract style.

  21. Harry,

    Gerhard Richter’s work has been my favorite since the first time I viewed it. That’s probably why your work caught my eye early on. I have enjoyed seeing your art regularly on Saatchi. I especially love your use of color.

    Thanks for the peek in your new studio.

    Best wishes,
    Julie Laukkanen

  22. Harry Moody says:

    I would like to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment. It goes without saying that art is a lonely business which yet can easily lead to big discussions. And when it is all said and done there remains a niche here in the realm of art for all of us.

    A special THANKS also to Saatchi ! It truly is a privilege and honor to be highlighted amongst so many other worthy artists.

    Last but not least @ Fedele (above) who asked how I keep my walls so white…well it is a simple answer… I paint them.

    Thanks again !

  23. niki hare says:

    Great interview Harry, so much sense!
    Wonderful work, congratulations :-)

  24. sorry, this artwork is imitation art of GERHARD RICHTER, nothing more…
    I had seen a lot of exhibitions by Gerhard Richter in Germany, his work is outstanding over many years,and has many artists influenced…and Richter reinvents itself again over decades.

    But is there no own fantasy by Harry Moody!

    I think it’s just sad, and I think here at Saatchi Online they are a lot of other Artists
    they do much better work with an own imagination.

  25. David Subhi says:

    Richter opened a door, but he closed it after him….Hard hard hard.
    But Mr Moody said it himself: ” It goes without saying that Gerhard Richter is very high on my list “…so…you have to step over and it is a long process.

    Anyway. Interesting answers for not so interesting questions. I would not like to see a picture of some work, called “the final product” that’s sucks so much.

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