Paul Hartley, painter, dies at 65

Staff WriterNovember 29, 2009 

Paul J. Hartley Jr., a well-regarded painter and art professor from Greenville, died Thanksgiving Day after a 14-month fight against cancer.

Hartley, who was 65, retired from East Carolina University in August after working as an art professor there for about 35 years. During that time, he influenced hundreds of students, including some who went on to follow in his footsteps.

Scott Eagle, who teaches at ECU, was one of Hartley's former pupils. Hartley spoke so rarely and so quietly that those in his class often leaned forward to hear his every word.

"He had an amazing ability to simply show up at the right time whenever you needed help with anything, and he knew what you needed,"Eagle said Saturday. "He listened more than any other professor I knew. As a professor, that is what I try to emulate."

As an artist, Hartley favored mixed-media paintings combining oil, acrylic and collage. Many of his works featured carefully rendered everyday objects such as a lemon slice, egg or leaf painted over an abstract background, making the image appear to float out from the canvas. A 20-year retrospective of Hartley's work wrapped up last month at the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh.

Some of Hartley's paintings hang in the collections of the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, as well as numerous private collections. A painting is currently awaiting approval to join the collection of the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Born in Charlotte in 1943, Hartley grew up in Atlanta. There, he met Lane H. Crawley. They were married for 42 years and had two children.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. today at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Greenville. Hartley's family has requested that any memorial contributions be made to East Carolina School of Art and Design.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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