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Excerpt for Blueprint for an Artist by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

BLUEPRINT FOR AN ARTIST

A personal account—a memoir of sorts. How one artist can reach out and point the way for another: by generosity of spirit and deed and by example.

by
Heather
Gail Harman

Smashwords Edition

Published on Smashwords by:
Heather Gail Harman

Blueprint for an Artist
Copyright 2018 by Heather Gail Harman
heatherandwill@hotmail.com

All artwork by Heather Gail Harman
Photos as credited

Many thanks to Paul de Noya for permission to quote him!

Cover image “Into The Void” is a work in progress adapted from an original photo reference Getty Images - copyright secured. It is forbidden to reproduce the image in any form. More information about the publication of a limited edition print run will be found on heatherharmanartist.com in early 2019.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Smashwords Edition License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal use only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

This memoire is dedicated to my friends, Lynne Goodall and Maisie Van Courtland, who kept the faith when it mattered, and over the years continually convinced various managements that a great artist should never be ignored, and there would always be a massive interest in his life and work.

This is also for the loyal Scott followers. The internet has now made it so easy to keep track of his career and to meet each other online. A good many managed to stay in touch via telephone and snail mail all along and I have promised to write this story to many of them on a few occasions, and I have finally done so. Back in the 70s and 80s we would talk about the possibility of Scott’s music being appreciated by a whole new audience worldwide; a younger audience who would access the music on their terms. That started to happen before the internet and has grown massively since. This book is for you too.

Finally for Scott and for his family, and for my family who will not be surprised I have finally got around to it.

CONTENTS

Preface

Career Number One

Career Number Two

PostScript

PREFACE
WHY HAVE I CALLED THIS ACCOUNT ‘BLUEPRINT FOR AN ARTIST’?

I have grown up knowing that pure chance; happenstance has had a massive influence over my life.

For some years now this account has been promised to those who know me, and other artists. But for me it is a bit like having teeth pulled. I would rather write about someone else’s life than my own. It isn’t comfortable, but it is also for my Granddaughter, Thorie, but more than anything this is also for a community of wonderful people I have met on Facebook who are keen followers of the subject of this memoire.

Artists grow and develop in many ways, and my path has been clear to track. The signposts were astoundingly clear, because I was lucky, really lucky, in that in some way the stars collided and one person inspired my creative existence. And it matters, because without being over emotional about this, without this one person, I would not be who I am, and maybe not even doing what I do. Who knows? But the odds were against it.

A few people can say that. Artists have always inspired artists. Others have been so inspired and influenced, but I know that history will tell the story of an extraordinary artist, and I was lucky enough to be around at the time. I have lived for 50 years knowing how extraordinary a talent he is; always was and remains; so much so that now, in his 70’s, his career is growing and International respect has grown with it. There is hardly a popular musician, that doesn’t revere him. But for so long it was thought that would not be the case.

This is a story which begins in the fantastic and influential 1960’s. I am a ‘working class’ girl from the Industrial Midlands in the UK. No artists in my family, no one who had been to college or university in my family. No ‘role models’ and above all no real idea of what an ‘artist’, really was. Now 50 years later, I am still aware of the fact that is some way ‘fate’ took a part, or just pure luck; I don’t have a name for it, but I sure am grateful for it. I am now a well-respected authority in my specialism in Fine Art; a painter, an author, a tutor, a mentor and an historian of my medium. I live the life of an artist in total control of my artistic creativity and destiny.

Artistic freedom is a lot to do with why I am writing this.

But I have roots, a beginning: and a vital part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up my story is due to a young guy from the USA, who did not come from anything like my background. I mean chalk and cheese. He grew up in Hollywood and because of his amazing talent, was lauded and applauded as a young child and into his teenage years, on a nationwide stage.

He stretched my mind and my imagination. He showed me what being an artist was and in a world full of hype and ‘pop’ stars, this guy was the real deal.

But this story will be difficult to write. Part of this story has got to be written by the young teenager I was in the 60’s, but the greater part is written by me, a successful artist with a wonderful career. Identity is complicated, but self-knowledge over a period of years is so valuable and humbling in equal measure.

Heather Gail Harman, Spain 2018

CAREER NUMBER ONE
THE SWINGING 60’S. A VERY MAGICAL TIME TO BE A TEENAGER.

There is an age old statement; ‘Artists are born—not made’. Well this book will go some way to examine that statement, in an attempt to come to some personal conclusions and also to open up the debate a little, so that other artists might recognize some of the feelings and emotions that were my building blocks along the way.

Artists tend to question themselves on many different levels:

• ‘Am I good Enough?’, a common one.
• ‘Can I be a Professional?’
• ‘Am I being taken seriously?’,
• ‘Can I earn my living creating art?’

Add to that;

• ‘Is there any point in my trying?’
• ‘Is anything I am doing important enough to be a good influence over other artists who will follow?’

So many questions and many of them getting in the way of creating and growing.

After hearing a statement made by musician Midge Ure, who was interviewed following David Bowie’s death, he said something which struck a chord with me. Talking about Bowie, Midge said:

It is not very often you get to meet your heroes. And it is not very often if you do meet them that you are actually quite pleased you did meet them’.

I have indeed met a lot of famous names in my life. I get what Midge meant.

Not to be let down by our idols is a biggie. A real biggie. The prospect of meeting someone you idolise for whatever reason, and being disappointed with them as a person, is enough to stop many people from meeting and shaking hands with their idols; given they were lucky enough to have the chance to do so. Frankly for me as a young artist, it was a massive risk to take. It is ironic however, that my idol faced the same challenges in his most successful early years and decided he didn’t want to meet a man who had been the major musical influence over his career. Such is the fear of disappointment or just the ‘fear’ itself.

How it all began

On my website (www.heatherharmanartist.com) there is a pretty comprehensive biography page and so there is no point my repeating the facts and logistics of my career here. Suffice to say that I have been enjoying a wonderful professional career now for over 40 years, worked for and with many known names, and now, I am considered to be a Pastel medium specialist.

But I have in fact had two careers and both as an artist.

So, I was artistically ‘born’ and I remember the day it happened.

I had a pretty poor childhood health wise. I don’t think there were many illness’s I didn’t have at one point or another, and I was always off school, laid up on the sofa in the lounge being fed homemade soup. So I couldn’t read and write until I was eight years old. But, I could draw and listen to music. I could also crochet and knit and embroider; just about anything I turned my hands to I could do, thanks to my Grandmother who taught me everything. She was a clever lady who was forced to sacrifice her dream of being a professional pianist so that she could look after the family. That is what good working class girls did. They got a job and helped Mum and Dad raise the siblings. She had me knitting baby clothes by the age of six; reading knitting patterns and even designing a few before I was ten.

But my passion was for two things which for me were inseparable even as a young child; music and drawing and painting. They were my friends. I loved my colouring books, and different kinds of crayons. I can shut my eyes and smell colouring books and crayons now. The smell I recall reminds me of being laid up on the sofa ill. My ‘familiar’ world.

I had ‘real’ friends but was always catching up on school stuff and to be honest, I was quite happy with my own company. Then I could draw and listen to music. Bliss.

Then came The Beatles—Oh Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Fast forward a couple of years and the Beatles had arrived, and so had Radio Luxemburg and Radio’s Caroline and London. I was eleven years old, and remember now the first time I saw the Beatles and my family’s reaction to them. I was a fan of course; it seemed every teenager was and thinking about it all, what a great time to become a teenager the mid 60’s were: especially for a music fan.

One thing is for sure, the 60’s wouldn’t have been the 60’s without the Beatles. The music industry was changed forever because of them. I was thirteen, and fresh out of a two week hospital visit in early 1965. A bad dose of Glandular fever and quite a few weeks (12 to be exact) of rest and recuperation at home and doing what? Drawing and listening to music!

Drawing what? Anything. I liked Cher’s clothes and drew them a lot. Flowers, jugs, figures I would copy out of books; anything that I could turn into a drawing.

I had a fabulous old Bacolite radio with strange and romantic sounding names on it like ‘Hilversum’, and ‘Dogger’, ‘Paris’, ‘Vienna’, and it tuned in to every part of the world. It was a pretty large radio and covered the top of our sideboard. I found Radio London about a week after its first transmission. It was so unheard of I thought no one but me knew about it. I remember the first Kenny Everett transmission.

When I went to bed it was to listen to Radio Luxemburg in the hope of hearing my favourite Phil Spectre produced music. I used to dream of growing up to be a female Phil Spectre, with a mass of mixers and control panels around me! I always did have a good imagination.

I was a 60’s girl in every way. I had a great stereo record player (important that—it being stereo!) and a great selection of LP’s; mainly musicals and Elvis and of course the Beatles, and a couple of Shirley Bassey albums too. My Grandmother took me to see her live a couple of times when I was eleven years old. I had albums; more albums than my girlfriends, and that ‘stereo’ record player was the source of great pride to me. (Though I later found out it took my family six months to pay for it. It evidently was a very good record player). There was ‘Top of the Pops’ of course, and ‘Ready Steady Go’, ‘Thank You Lucky Stars’ on a Saturday night, also Juke Box Jury on around teatime Saturday.

Did I have any thoughts of a career, or what I wanted to do when I grew up? Well apart from the pipe dream of being the female Phil Spectre? No I didn’t. Professional ambition didn’t really exist in my family, where getting married, becoming a nurse or a teacher, or getting a job in a shop was the norm.

But a Change was Gonna Come

February 17, 1965 became a date to remember for me. Three guys, musicians arrived in the UK from California.

My days would rarely change: Surf the radio most of the day and ‘tape’ (on my Grundig TK45 reel to reel tape recorder) which I had been given for Christmas. I would record any song that I loved on the Pirate stations.

Then I heard a song that stopped me in my tracks.

I didn’t even think to press the record button. I remember staring at my radio, and all I could think of all day was that song coming on the radio again so I could tape it, which it did later in the day and I still have that original crackly recording from Radio London in early 1965 to this day. A magnificent and unique voice, and a fabulous Phil Spectre like production. It was something special; totally different and as far away from anything I had heard than you could get. I played my tape recording all day and every day. ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling’ was a big hit around that time, but this voice was different.

The following week, I turned on the TV for ‘The Five O’Clock Club’, a teenage magazine type programme presented by Muriel Young. There was that voice. I couldn’t believe it. I was drawing at the time, doodling more like it, and I sat stock still. The black and white television screen was filled with the most beautiful angelic face I had ever seen; even more amazingly, the source of that great magnificent voice. Above all that voice.

It was one of those moments when time seemed to stand still. Such a powerfully rich deep voice and the face of an angel framed with long blond hair. It seemed a mismatch of voice and face, but a double whammy for sure. A potent mix for any thirteen year old girl., and right now as I write this, I am that 13 years old girl again. Some 50 years later, I can shut my eyes and I am back in that moment.

In so many ways the moment my artistic identity was born.

During that song I was scribbling a face. I HAD to. There was no video back then and no way of recording anything off the television. I might never see that face again so I drew it. I had never even considered drawing a face before. Truly for me, the face that launched an art career. I had to capture that face somehow. A pencil was all I needed.

That moment in time remains today as singularly the most important inspirational moment in my life. A significant turning point.

Could it have been any face or voice? Well you might say yes of course it would eventually have been something or someone else who would have lit a spark inside me. Maybe. But the answer is no as has been proven since, this was no ordinary pop star; no ordinary talent, no ‘ordinary’ anything. Quite the opposite in fact, as his increased artistic standing in the music world 50 years later has proven.

Moments like that have proved to be rare in my life; as in many people’s lives I suspect. The song was ‘Love Her’. The singer Scott Walker (Engel) lead singer with the Walker Brothers; an American threesome who have travelled to the UK in February 1965 in the hope of becoming successful in the exciting UK music scene. Well they did; and how.

My parents always used to say that my life changed at that time. Well I became deeply and passionately involved with my new love of portrait drawing. I was motivated. Driven even. Eyes noses lips were all of a sudden fascinating.

I started to collect pop magazines featuring articles about the Walker Brothers and of course, photographs. Now I could really practice my portrait drawing. My proud but bemused parents showed them to everyone they could, and they were impressed;

‘How old is she? Thirteen? Wow. Where did that talent come from? ‘She must be born an artist!

I heard that a lot of course.

‘You can’t teach that kind of talent. She must have been born with it’.

I really didn’t care one way or another. I had my muse.

But it had begun, that persistent search for ‘Where did it come from’? That talent? It must have come from somewhere. Members of my family had no idea. My parents knew, but there was little point in my telling anyone it came from Scott Walker, but as far as I was concerned it did. No one in my family drew that is for sure. I just did what I did. How good or bad it was I didn’t know.

But what is obvious to now, having seen creativity sparked in others for many years, is the fact that a creative spirit, needs a ‘muse’. How many young children are similarly creative and go through life without their imaginations being so captured? (How many major Music icons can trace their original muse to Elvis? Probably hundreds). For me it was a gift without measure; and to this day I encourage youngsters to draw whatever or whoever it is, that is their fascination and pre-occupation. If a young football fan loves Beckham, and they want to draw him, encourage it. Genuine admiration is an important part of how a portrait painter should interact with their subjects! I know portrait painters with great reputations, who don’t actually like people, or interacting with them. So why bother? (Now that is a whole different book; this one is about artistic integrity)

For me though, music and my creative art are intrinsically fused together.

The rest of my thirteenth year was spent drawing. I had my frustrations, but overall I was getting results and each success fired me up for more. There was nothing available as a source of tuition, not even books. Just my determination to improve. A lot of my artist students will recognise that.

I followed the careers of the Walker Brothers throughout and watched as they rose in stardom in the UK to rival the popularity of the Beatles. Their live shows were legend. Not just concerts, more like ‘events’. I saw them in Blackpool in the summer of 1965 on the North Pier and getting them on and off the pier was like an SAS operation. I learnt early on that live Walker Brothers concerts were potentially dangerous places to be; but they were unforgettable, 60’s moments, and I wouldn’t have missed any one of them.

My Walker Brothers Portraits

They had massive hits (Make it Easy on Yourself, My Ship is coming in. The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.) By the Spring on 1966, I was 14 and had produced three portraits of John Scott and Gary that I could live with. I was my own worst critic even then. Artists are never satisfied with what they produce, it is what drives them on to achieve more. They were large, full life size, moody and dramatic portraits. All pencil on white card. I never had any real art equipment then.

Then a surprise: That is putting it lightly. I was given the opportunity to take my portraits and meet the Walker Brothers who were opening a Disci Record Shop in Bletchley. Yes ok, I thought, I will believe that when it happens. At that point it was a little like meeting the Beatles, no less, and I went along with little hope of any meeting taking place

But no one reckoned on my father’s emerging talents in the promotion of his artistic daughter. I went to Bletchley with my father and two friends expecting nothing. But we ended up in the shop which was a surprise. It was chaos, and the large plate glass window in the front of the store was in danger of being broken so those of us in the shop were moved to the back room, whilst the Police called for backup. Only Gary Leeds was there, the drummer with the group and a lovely guy he was too. No Scott Engel and no John Maus (Walker was their stage name). But it was chaos all the same. Not least of all because those outside didn’t know that only Gary was there. So we were under siege.

Stuck in the back stock room with Gary and his minders, whilst the police did their best to protect the safety of the shop window, we were talking about my portraits and posing for local press. He was so sorry Scott was not there to see them because as the music world knew by then, Scott was an artist himself. Gary laughed almost all afternoon when my father called me ‘pet’. He thought it was real ‘weird man’. Evidently a very strange thing to call your daughter in the USA. When Gary left it was ‘Bye Pet!’.

A Strange Place for the Portraits to be

My three portraits were eventually in the hands of the Mayor of Rugby. The local press had covered them and he wanted to hang them in the Town Hall. A couple of the councillors refused to let them be hung in the Town Hall, and the Mayor insisted that they were. The press have always loved a bit of controversy. Then came a message. The Daily Mirror wanted me, the portraits, and the Mayor for a photo shoot in the Major’s Parlour in the Town Hall, at 10pm one evening. I was to be in the paper the following day hence the rush. Wow.

The Daily Mirror (August 16th 1966) I couldn’t believe it. I was in a bit of a fog to be honest.

It was a different world back then being in the National press or on TV was enormous; particularly so for a young Midland teenager from an ordinary working class background.

We were met at the Mayor’s office by the two reporter photographers who ‘sent through’ photographs to the London Mirror HQ by telephone. Smart black suits and a range of equipment, and I have always enjoyed watching professionals at work. So photos were taken and the following morning I was a Page Three Girl! (For non UK readers, the joke being the Page three of the Daily Mirror eventually became notorious for topless images of women).

Of course going to school became a whole different experience. Now I was a mini celebrity in my home town. Dubbed the ‘Rugby Artist’, the local press and other regional press offices picked up on the story. The BBC TV covered it too. I wish I had the footage today. The influence of the National Press meant that the portraits were eventually hung in the Rugby Town Hall, where the BBC went to film them for the news.

After Daily Mirror coverage I received a post card. It was headed ‘ Dear ‘Pet’ Heather’, and I was thrilled to think that Gary of the Walker Brothers had sent me a card. All the address said was, Heather Johnston, Bath Street, Rugby. No house number, no postcodes back then. That was all that had been included in the article in the Mirror, and thinking about it, I was lucky to have received it at all. Post cards were still widely used in the 60’s, but of course the signature of who wrote it was there for all to see. The signature was a pseudonym a pretty well-known one in Walker Brothers circles as I was to learn. What intrigued me were the words which seemed strange words for Gary to say, but I was nonetheless thrilled. My father read it and grinned at the ‘pet’ Heather. The words were beautiful and clearly heartfelt. But Dad thought Gary must have been drunk when he wrote it judging by the handwriting!


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