back to article page

By Steve Wartenberg



When Glenn Daniel Harren was young,he didn't collect baseball cards or GI Joes.
He collected colors.
He filled a drawer with lollipops and pieces of paper,a veritable rainbow of colors.
Today,Harren,46 is still collecting colors.
Only now,the Holicong artist puts his colors on canvas as he creates
large portraits and landscapes that are starting to attract attention.
He currently has a painting in the Cheltenham Art Center's 57th Annual
Exhibition (which runs through March 19th);at the most recent Phillip's Mill
Art Exhibition,he won the Stoner Family Award.
In 1994,Harren was awarded a fellowship by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
The artist describes himself as a cross between the well-known John Singer Sargent and the not so well-known Alice Neel.
While he is more a figural than impressionistic painter,like the
impressionists,Harren has found an interesting way to use colors,combining bold greens,blues and purples to create mood and
atmosphere in both landscapes and environmental portraits that have
a story-like quality about them.
" I mix my colors on the canvas instead of on the palette."he said,adding
that the colors seem to take on a life of their own.
" I look for the happy,pleasent surprizes"is how he described the colors that
appear on his canvas.
Harren finds his art in the fields and farms of Bucks County and also in
everyday life.He's painted a woman at the Laundromat and is working on
a portrait of a man cooking eggs at a diner in Lambertville,NJ.
" I seek the extraordinary aspects of everyday life,"he said."whether in
the color of a landscape or the simple dignity of the human form."
Harren knew from an early age he wanted to be an artist.
" When I was 8 or 9, I knew I wanted to go to ethier the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts or the Arts Student League in New York and
sent away for brochures."he said.
Why art?
" I was an anonymous kid.But,when I drew,it was like wow! I got all this
attention.I put two and two together and figured out if I drew,I was visible
and if I didn't I was anonymous."
Harren took art classes at Central Bucks East (he graduated in 1971)
and also studied with famous Bucks County artist William Smith,who died
in 1989.
" He had this vast library of books,he was well traveled,he was an artist,"
Harren said." He was what I wanted to be."
Smith told Harren to seek as much knowledge as he could-about art and
life-on his own and then,when he was ready,finish up his education at
place such as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Taking Smith's advice,Harren went on a journey of self-discovery.While he
worked at his art,he also worked as a carpenter.built swimming
pools,framed houses,worked as a cook and even drove a taxi.
Finally,it was time for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Harren began with a night course,which was taught by Arthur
DeCosta,who told he should be attending full time.
" That was just what I needed to hear," Harren said.
He was awarded a scholarship but still needed to work and found a job as
janitor of the academy's museum.
" It wasn't a bad job,"he said."I could put down my mop and stare at the
Harren completed his studies at the academy in 1981.
To help support himself,he runs Masterpiece Express,a fine art transportation company.
He has moved paintings and hung shows for several local museums and
once took a van full of Smith's paintings to an exhibit at the National
Academy of Design in New York.
In the end,Harren seems to have followed in his mentor's footstep's
Like Smith,he's a painter.
" I'm living a dream,doing what I want to be doing,"he said.