A landscape painter and printmaker, Yeargans was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1915. He majored in sign painting from 1930-1933 at Lincoln High School, and moved to New York in 1936, to join his older brother James Conroy Yeargans. James was working on the WPA murals in Harlem Hospital and introduced his younger brother to many prominent African-American artists of the Harlem Renaissance and to younger artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Roy DeCarava, Robert Blackburn, and Norman Lewis.
Hartwell worked in ship drafting for the defense industry during World War II and enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City when the war was over. He studied painting and drawing with Morris Kantor and anatomy with Robert Beverly Hale from 1948 to 1951. In the late 1960s, he took up printmaking. He studied printmaking techniques with Tom Yamamoto at Goddard College, Vermont, from 1968 to 1971 earning a B.A. in Fine Arts and Art Education. He was an Instructor of Printmaking at the Brooklyn Museum Art School from 1969 to 1971 and at Stuyvesant High School from 1969 to 1971.
His first solo exhibition in 1955 in New York City was followed by group exhibitions in New York, Connecticut, Maine, Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and in exhibitions of African-American art at the Karamu Gallery, Cleveland (1969), Philadelphia Civic Center (1969), at the Whitney Museum, New York (1971, and in African-American Art on Paper from the Cochran Collection, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia (1991). In 1986 and in 2005 he had a solo exhibition of his paintings and prints at the Parsons School of Design.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Hartwell Yeargans concentrated on woodcuts, developing an expertise in multi-block color woodcuts, by using up to five blocks in different colors. He also used multiple plates for his color etchings, making color transparent by employing ink extender. Many of his images are of musicians, and in 1970 he collaborated with Duke Ellington and his orchestra in a performance of music and paintings at the Festival of the Arts, Long Island University, New York. In 1972, the Associated American Artists Gallery, New York, commissioned Music Makers, a multi-colored woodcut.
In 1971, Hartwell and his wife traveled to Europe and ended up living in Copenhagen, Denmark for a decade. They returned to New York in 1981 and he taught drawing and printmaking at the Parsons School of Design from 1982 to 1990.
Hartwell Yeargans passed on in 2005.
The internet, in particular clt.astate.edu/elind/sagaarticle