Ellen Grim Harter became interested in art and art history in high school. Around that time she began painting under the tutelage of her grandfather, Walter Emerson Baum, who founded The Baum School of Art and was a founder of the Allentown Art Museum.
To gain admittance to Yale, Ellen had an interview with Josef Albers, the esteemed head of the school. Albers was one of the world’s foremost art theorists and educators, a German emigre known as a master of color theory who taught at the famed Bauhaus.
She received her BFA and her MFA from Yale University School of Art and trained under Yale University’s renowned color theorist, Josef Albers.
I was born in Trenton New Jersey on December 1, 1935, the daughter of the late Marian Baum Grim and J. Lawrence Grim, an attorney. I have two brothers – J. Lawrence Grim Jr., and John F. Grim.
Over the years we watched our grandfather, Walter Emerson Baum, as he sketched and painted, and posed for him. I started enjoying art classes at school, inspired by my grandfather’s Impressionistic landscapes and village scenes.
In 1956 I was accepted at Yale University’s Yale School of Art after an interview with Josef Albers, the head of the school. Albers was an abstract painter known for exploring color effects in his “Homage to the Square” series. He taught how colors affected one another. He taught drawing with only the essential lines.
Yale professors taught art and architecture from ancient times to the present day. It was a wonderful experience to attend their lectures. Vincent Scully gave outstanding and entertaining classes, enlivening them with his personality and humor. Mr. McDonald taught Roman art. In his captivating manner he seemed to be able to tell and show remarkable treasures.
The stress at Yale was on the use of color. As I continue to paint today, I try to make each painting a color study. Through the use of color value, I strive for living quality, weight, density, motion and space balance. I try to show the moment that form appears and is shaped by color.
Each work is drawn carefully on canvas, and then abstracted in vivid colors, which I change, scrape and re-work to make color glow. I flatten space and allow glints of under color to show through. I exaggerate and blur my drawing of people, horses, or interiors into unfinished form to induce the eye of the viewer to imagine.
The object of my painting is to create pictures to show the joys of colors. In the class study of the history of art, from the cave paintings to the “Homage to the Square”, I learned that most artists always try to find a new way to excite wonder.
Ellen Grim Harter has a BFA (1960) and an MFA (1962) from the Yale School of Art. She attended The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr Pa and Pine Manor Junior College in Wellesley MA. I am married to Michael F. Harter, and have two children – Holly Ives Harter and Peter Farrington Harter.