Cristall Harper is a prolific painter and dog-lover. She graduated from BYU with a BFA in Painting. Harper lives in Utah. She explains about her muse, “I have a yellow lab named Buttercup who epitomizes loyalty, joy and friendship. I started painting her as a pup and my passion for capturing her happiness quickly grew. Now my dog paintings are in numerous galleries and dog-lovers everywhere are connecting with my work.”
Tell us about your evolution as an artist. I quit my day job and started doing art full time in 2008, about five years after I graduated from BYU. I’d do little daily paintings, list them on my blog and eBay, and I’d have shows at my apartment (later my house) inviting friends and family. I would show my work in any venue I could get with anybody willing to give me space. It didn’t always mean sales, but it did help me feel like I was moving in the right direction to promote myself. Fast-forward 8 years and fantastic galleries in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho now represent me and I’m in a place where I can pick and choose where and how to invest my artistic energy. I am extremely diligent in the studio and on the business end of being an artist. It blows my mind to think back to my college apartment where I had a small corner of a shared bedroom to paint, to the days of making slides and mailing them to galleries (thank you internet and websites!), to the Christmas my sweet dad bought me paints because I couldn’t afford all the colors I wanted. Now I’ve got a 330 square foot studio in my backyard (with plans in the works for an even bigger one) built from money I saved by teaching art lessons for four years at the same time I was trying to build a name for myself, and I recently used money from my art business to fly home to help care for my dad when he had knee replacement surgery. I love the growth cycle: artists receive help and advice and artists give help and advice. I’m grateful to associate with other professionals who give me that help and advice today. I’ve evolved from a timid artist that didn’t have much of a “brand” or style into a strong artist that knows her own mind, has a vision, and works consistently at goals. My business mantra is to keep looking forward to new ideas, new methods, new opportunities, new paintings. All artists have that stack of homeless what-was-I-thinking paintings collecting dust in some forgotten nook. I used to fret over this other side of the coin, but being a painter who tries new things means you’ll make good work and bad work. My favorite movie line in Disney’s The Incredibles is Edna Mode’s line “I never look back, darling, it distracts from the now.”
You once wrote, “Dogs are furry angels of joy.” Tell us about your dog and your related paintings. Buttercup is our 10-year-old yellow lab. I love animals, but I really, really love dogs. Buttercup is my best friend. Her face is in the window when I pull into the drive, her tail wags when I tell her about random things, and she is my companion all day long while I work. I did some paintings of her for fun in my early days as an artist. I had no idea that these little dog paintings would get me into a Park City gallery seven years later. My dog paintings make up about half of my annual painting production, meaning I’ll do about 70 a year for galleries, shows and commissions. I’ve recently started a water dog series (labs swimming with or without sticks and tennis balls) that I’m really excited about.