Chico Harkrader: Abstract Experimentation in Paint and Mixed-media

By Lisa Orgler in Featured Artists > Mixed-media Art

Chico Harkrader is a mixed-media painter drawn to both philosophy and experimentation. In 2003 his life took a major shift when he transitioned to from strictly representational pieces into abstract art. Along with 17 other artists in a multi-studio environment, Harkrader began experimenting with a multitude of mediums and styles.

Harkrader is known for working on several pieces at a time, both sculptural and 2D in nature. This multi-tasking approach allows him to research various techniques all at once, pushing the limits of his varied media. He especially enjoys examining the attributes of light, perspective, color, form, and movement.

The painting below, from his Urban Series, captures all of these elements. Harkrader’s color choices and strong angular forms convey an industrial feeling, and gives a sense of depth. Movement is represented by sweeping curved lines.

Abstract painting with curved lines and bright red and blue colors on white and gold

With his Lyric Series (including the painting below), Harkrader began to experiment with lava flake, pumice, and sand, mixed into his paint for texture.

It is the unique combination of that texture, powerful lines, movement, and the incredible illusion of glowing light that make this painting a success.

Geometric abstract artwork with glowing golden-white rectangles in the center and deep red hues on the outside

Harkrader also explores a minimal language in his paintings. The last painting, from his Onyx Series, evolved from a Rothko shape he had been studying.

What I enjoy most about this painting is its simple use of form and color. The heavy black subject to the right is balanced by the red and white to the left.

Highly-textured abstract painting in white, black, and red

I also like the unique connection between the white and black shapes (Harkrader used seven strands of leather, in this case). Other textural details, written letters, and thick application of paint all help to create interest as well.

If you like the paintings above, I highly encourage you to explore the rest of Harkrader’s work at


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