Get to Know Oil Painter Glenn Harren

Oil painter Glenn Harren shares with The Artist’s Magazine his process and inspiration.

oil painter

The Thompsons (oil on canvas, 60×50) by Glenn Harren

I started studying art in junior high, and when I was able to drive, I studied in private studios around Pennsylvania. I went to artist and teacher Nelson Shanks, who sent me to study under Henry Hensche in 1977. From there I took night classes at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where I met Arthur DeCosta in 1978. He encouraged me to attend full time, and I’ve been covering my square miles of canvas ever since. The subjects in The Thompsons—Emily and George—host a weekly life drawing class that I attend. They’re icons in the art community of Bucks County.

I start all of my paintings as large sketches, blocking in shapes and colors as I go. Then I put one away and work on another that’s at a different stage of the process. When I bring out the sketches again, I sit back and consider what to do next. I always work on more than one piece at a time. Putting them away and bringing them out later allows me to see them as they are. Without that step, I’m too emotional and uncertain to continue the process. There’s nothing like facing five white canvases in a row to wear you out. Some days it feels like a full contact sport.

I use basic colors from Williamsburg, Winsor & Newton, Rembrandt and Old Holland. When I paint and mix on the canvas, I discover all these new colors. I am fond of filbert brushes: With a twist of the wrist, you go from a flat to a round brush.

I am a painter that responds in color and shapes to the world around me. I seek the extraordinary aspects of everyday life, whether in the color of a landscape or the simple dignity of the human form.


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