Leonard Wren goes to the outdoors to get his inspiration. In addition to painting the beauty of the American landscape, Wren enjoys traveling to new places to find inspiration. His journeys take him to locales such as Italy, France, Spain, and Jamaica. Wren is also intrigued with the wonderful light and variety in the landscape of Washington State, where he has built a new studio.
Leonard Wren refers to himself as an “American Impressionist.” He considers the style’s accessibility and popularity a plus. “Impressionism is like the blues,” Wren says. “It’s so basic that it touches you profoundly.”
“If you want the truth, you have to go straight to the outdoors.”
After setting up his easel, Wren works energetically, blocking out the composition with oils. His brush strokes move quickly from one part of the painting to another, keeping up what he terms a “constant dialogue” between artist and subject.
Wren uses some tricks to keep himself on track, like turning his back on the painting and looking at it with a mirror to jolt himself out of one perspective. He also takes off glasses he wears for nearsightedness to isolate the larger shapes. “You can get too concerned with the details and forget about the shapes,” he cautions. “I work on the whole painting at once in order to get that wonderful sense of the moment. The essence of impressionism is capturing the vitality of sunlight – the fleeting moment, which is light.”
“Your eye caresses everything and you’re tempted to paint everything you see. It’s taken me a long time to learn the art of subtlety.
“I have painted plein air in the classic French Impressionist tradition for 20 years,” Wren explains. It is an honest and naive approach that deals with the natural harmonies and rhythms of nature. Today’s society is very complex. The diversities of social, political and aesthetic opinions will always be matters for spirited debates and I choose not to engage these issues in my work. My energies are focused on those things that lift my spirit. I admit being a hopeless romantic, endlessly idealizing and searching for beauty. It is not my intention to have any profound intellectual content in my work, for it is the simple moments of joy, comfort and truth that are my goals. Sharing joy is what it’s all about.”