An Appreciation by Robin Capon(Art Journalist & Author)
'Small paintings particularly if they are made from direct observation and response to the subject,are often more telling and emotive in their impact than large studio works that are resolved in every detail. Most of Michael Harrison's paintings are small - he usually paints no large than 5 x 12 in.(12 x30.5 cm) = but his subjects,especially his landscapes,are charged with feeling and personality. There is a deftness and energy in his brushwork: it is expressive and confidently stated,with always something left to the viewer's imagination. Although small-scale,his paintings capture and convey a great deal.
Michael's strength lies in the way he is able to evaluate and handle rthe tonal qualities of a subject.He works froma limited colour palette,perhaps with only four or five colours.Adept at mixing colours,he aims for results that are well-keyed and exploit a good tonal range.In turn,whatever the subject, this enhances the sense of mood in his paintings.
The medium itself,the paint should always play its part in determining the character and impact of a painting.So many artists look to control the medium to such an extent that the feeling for paint,with its consequent influence on textures and brushmarks,is lost.In michael's work, that relationship between artist and medium is clearly evident,and it results in paintings that have a wonderfully loose and direct quality.
Equally, in this context, another contributing factor is his love of the alla prima technique.Working on birch ply panels prepared with three or four cosats of tinted gesso primer, he starts directly with the brush,first in sketch form and then developing the substance of the painting,using paint that has more body and texture.It is aprocess that demands keen observation,quick decisions and a sensitive response. The result is work that,in its immediacy and spontaneity captures the essence of the subject, the sense of moment and space.