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Richard H. Harryman was a well-known Maryland artist.
Richard H. Harryman was a well-known Maryland artist.

Richard H. Harryman, a well-known Maryland artist whose works in oil include U.S. senators, business leaders and military and clergy as well as Chesapeake Bay scenes, died Nov. 4 at his Severna Park home of complications of prostate cancer. He was 86.

"The act of painting creatively is, for me, a never-ending joyful experience," Mr. Harryman wrote in a biographical sketch of being a lifetime working professional artist whose work hangs in the U.S. Capitol and throughout Maryland.

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"The level of joy and sense of fulfillment realized through painting is greatest when I'm working directly from nature. There is no substitute for personally confronting a subject with my senses heightened and focused," he wrote. "While the subject is secondary to the act of painting, it must be interesting enough to inspire me to paint it."

The son of George Harryman, a businessman, and Elizabeth Harryman, a homemaker, Richard Hood Harryman was born in Baltimore and raised in Bear Creek in Middle River and Putty Hill.

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After graduating from Towson High School in 1946, Mr. Harryman served in the Marine Corps for two years.

As a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, he was active in the ROTC. After earning his bachelor's degree in 1953 in fine arts, Mr. Harryman served in the Air Force Reserve and the Maryland National Guard for six years.

In addition to working as a professional artist for more than 50 years, Mr. Harryman had been an illustrator-designer and writer in the aerospace industry, advertising and government, including a two-year stint with the Central Intelligence Agency.

He had also been the founder of Morlock, Harryman & Parks Inc., a graphics agency.

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In 1970, Mr. Harryman took over the Maryland College of Art and Design Inc. in Silver Spring, which had been founded in 1955 by Ed Lipmann. Under his tutelage, the two-year college became part of Montgomery County Community College in 2004.

He also was the founder and president of Harryman & Associates Inc., an umbrella organization, and the founder and owner of the now-closed Chesapeake Gallery in Annapolis.

But it was painting that defined Mr. Harryman's life. In 1991, he told The Baltimore Sun in an interview, "I paint because I have something to say. To my audience I say, 'Know me by my art. I experienced this. It moved me. I share it with you.'"

He added: "I don't necessarily love the business; I accept it as a part of what has to be done so that I can enjoy the art."

Mr. Harryman explained in the newspaper interview that major influences on his work included Vincent van Gogh and contemporary painter Richard Schmid, who lives in New Hampshire, and American portrait painter John Howard Sanden, another contemporary.

He also drew inspiration from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, where he sketched and painted boats, people, harbors, lighthouses and Annapolis in a variety of expressive media that included oils, watercolors, acrylics and pastels.

In addition to his nautical paintings, he painted landscapes and cityscapes.

Mr. Harryman's preferred medium was oil. "I grew up with it, and I'm more comfortable with it," he told The Sun.

One of Mr. Harryman's three senatorial portraits is of Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen, the Illinois Republican who had also been Senate minority leader.

Mr. Dirksen posed for Mr. Harryman in the spring of 1969. Mr. Harryman continued working on the portrait through that summer and completed it before Mr. Dirksen died that fall.

Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. hung the portrait in the Republican leaders suite in the Capitol. He asked Mr. Harryman to paint three replicas, two of which hang at the Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Ill., and the third in the Capitol Hill Club in Washington.

"Painting is a catharsis for me. I don't over-analyze or intellectualize when I'm painting," Mr. Harryman wrote in the sketch. "I work instinctively and intuitively letting the years of study and practice flow freely through me to the painting."

Reflecting on his years of painting, he wrote, "It is for me pure magic when the paint laden brush touches the canvas. I still get excited about something as simple as observing how sunlight plays across a weathered barn siding or a person's cheek then reflects off into a nearby shadow."

Mr. Harryman also gave lectures and conducted seminars with fine-art groups and art students, whom he advised at the outset of their careers as professional artists: "Work for nothing to start and never take no for an answer."

He told the newspaper in the 1991 interview that he also advised them, "It's a business. That's the thing many artists have a hard time getting. And, I tell them, don't worry about the competition; the only person you have to exceed is yourself."

Mr. Harryman's last painting, which remains unfinished, was a 2008 streetscape of Dock Street in Annapolis, said his wife of 64 years, the former Betty Jean Harper, a retired Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. supervisor.

In May, the Honor Salute, which is composed of Naval Academy midshipmen, called on Mr. Harryman at his home to "deliver a final salute to a dying veteran," reported The Sun.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Barranco & Sons Funeral Home, 495 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Harryman is survived by his two daughters, Deborah Rolig of Snow Hill and Diane "Dee" Gray of Millsboro, Del.; a brother, George Harryman Jr. of Bel Air; three sisters, Margaret Prigel of Earleville, Ethel Forlifer of Arnold and Mary Anne VanVlaanderen of Alexandria, Va.; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

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