Neil Harpe is a painter and printmaker. He approaches his work through a variety of media including watercolor, acrylics, graphite, lithography and intaglio printmaking (etching). He often combines several of these approaches in a single work. Harpe is particularly well known for his marine art: workboats, lighthouses, and watermen. However, his works cover a wide range of subjects including landscapes, figures, automobiles, airplanes, and music subjects such as his “Blues Singers” series and “Guitar Portrait” series.
Neil graduated from the four year program at the Corcoran School of Art in 1969, with a major in graphics and minor in painting. He received a BFA in multi-media from Maryland Institute College of Art and earned his MFA in printmaking from George Washington University. He spent three semesters as a visiting graduate student at the University of Maryland, where he developed skills in color lithography working under the tutelage of abstract artist and master lithographer Tadeusz Lapinski.
While earning an MFA at George Washington University, Neil’s thesis advisor and former drawing instructor was realist artist Frank Wright. His association with Professor Wright had a major influence on Harpe’s later near “photo-realist” work. After earning his MFA, Neil produced a wide array of mostly Chesapeake Bay themed Mylar lithographs, many of which were done in collaboration with renowned Mylar lithographer Mel Hunter at Atelier North Star in Burlington,Vermont.
Harpe has recently revisited an earlier style of painting with a series of abstract acrylic paintings reflective of the non-objective work he did as an undergraduate at the Corcoran, while studying painting with “Washington Color School” artist Tom Downing and new media with Ed McGowin. After receiving his MFA, Neil returned to the Corcoran and set up their pilot stone lithography program.
Neil was an instructor at Northern Virginia Community College for seven years where he taught Graphic Skills, Drawing I, Design I, Design II (Theory of Color) and Printmaking. He also taught Plate Lithography at the University of Maryland’s University College and Stone Lithography at the Corcoran College of Art & Design. Until closing his studio there recently, Harpe taught printmaking at Maryland Hall of the Arts in Annapolis, MD.
Harpe’s lithographs were included in the "Art in the Embassies Program" of the U.S. State Dept. and displayed at U.S. Embassies throughout the globe. His art work is in many private and corporate collections, including the permanent collection of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Beverly Robinson Collection of Naval & Marine Art, Calvert Marine Museum, and Westinghouse. A series of Harpe’s abstract images based on mathematical proofs are on permanent display at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland.