Portrait Study on the Beach
Oil on Board, 12 x 16
Visit Glenna Hartwell's website
Glenna Hartwell began her career as a portrait artist in the studios of Provincetown, Massachusetts in the 1970’s. She worked closely with, and was mentored by, the highly regarded portrait artist Tom Moore. At Tom’s direction, she began her study with Henry Hensche in 1976. She was amazed at the effect that studying at the old barn on Pearl Street had on her vision. When walking back to the portrait studio after class, she would notice color combinations she had never seen before – why, the trees had red in the shadows! “What other class can actually change the way you see?” Tom would say.
“Henry would often walk downtown with his dog, Wags, and visit the portrait artists at work. He remarked on the difficulty of working with the models under electric lights, as opposed to natural light. It was indeed challenging, and the schedule was grueling: painting class from eight a.m. to noon, then off to sketch portraits of tourists until midnight. One day I remarked to Henry, who was 85 at the time, how I meant to get up to class soon. I had missed a week of painting. With a sly look in his eye, he replied, ‘you’d better hurry up – before I kick the bucket!’
When Henry finished a demonstration, he would sometimes turn away from the picture and say, 'that's the best I can do'. Even though the result was masterful, it was as though to him it fell short. I can't imagine what he was actually seeing."
Glenna strives to capture an indelible moment in the expression of the model. Even though the sitter might be talking irritably about her movie date that fell through, something less pedestrian arises from a deeper place than the everyday.
Glenna left Provincetown in 1980, and continued her portrait career. Her work is in prominent collections including that of the du Pont family, and the family of actor Christopher Reeve. Her portrait of Lois Griffel is in Ms. Griffel's book, Painting the Impressionist Landscape. She has won numerous awards in juried shows. Glenna is now studying landscape painting with Hilda Neily and John Clayton, and figure painting with Cedric and Joanette Egeli. She is also an illustrator, designer, dollmaker, and 3D character designer. Her study with Hensche has informed all of her artistic endeavors.