Jennifer Harmes was born and brought up in New Zealand as part of a very artistic family. Her mother spent much time during her childhood working as a commercial artist and illustrator, and Jennifer Harmes herself has been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil.
She completed two years of a BA in Art at college in the United States as the recipient of an Art Scholarship and a Foreign Student Scholarship. She then completed a certificate in graphic design in New Zealand and worked for a number of years as a graphic designer, specialising particularly as a stylist for magazines in New Zealand. She began painting as a full time career in 2000.
Jennifer Harmes cites as an inspiration the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth and Wolf Kahn. She is particularly well known for her beautiful paintings of flower heads. Jennifer Harmes is always looking out for flowers that catch her eye and she regular visits gardens and buys cut flowers from florists. She then photographs the particular image that has inspired her and eventually picks out something from each image that she wishes to draw up as a painting. She prepares her canvases with up to six layers of primer, sanding each coat to achieve the kind of surface on which she likes to paint. Then she uses Alkyd oils with liquid in transparent layers of paint to achieve the vibrancy and depth of colour to her work.
She is hampered as an artist by the fairly strong feelings she has for all her flower paintings, which means that she finds it very hard to part with any of them! Peonies, however, are her favourite flower and she has kept Yellow Peony to hang permanently in her home.