Wen LePore’s Unplanned, Unpredictable Paintings

The Moment, watercolor, by Wen LePore.

Where does the title The Moment come from? Was it the moment the model was captured? The moment artist Wen LePore put pen to paper? Or was it the moment she nearly started over, but decided to keep the painting instead?

Whenever the Moment was, it was recognized this month by juror Dana Shearin, who selected it for the Amelia T. Clemente Family Award for Best in Show in the May Open Exhibit. We asked the artist to tell us more about this painting:

What was your goal when you were painting The Moment?
To be honest, I did not think about what it should be. I did not plan it. It was an unfinished ink sketch from drawing class, and I was trying to finish it but I made the face ugly … I was trying to wash away and redo it again, then I saw there was something nice there.

Why are you a painter?
To be a painter is my dream.

I love music, love dancing, and I admired artists who stand in front of a easel. But I am too short; I have very small hands. My parents thought I wasn’t able to be a perfect musician or dancer. As I saw artists were painting, I wanted to paint, but my mom told me, “That is too expensive.”

I stayed in math and physics … such useful majors. It’s easy to survive, too. To be a painter became my dream.

Passion, oil, by Wen LePore

Why did you choose watercolor for this painting? What other media do you work in?
The first time I learned brown ink was in Dan Thompson’s workshop in 2015. Then I started to take Robert Liberace’s drawing class. Some classes were learning to use watercolor as one kind of media to do a quick sketch. Usually I use black ink pen in my sketch book; this took longer and used more ink. Learning the watercolor technique has brought me more joy.

Usually, I paint in oil.

Is this a typical painting for you? What makes it different?
This is a typical painting for me: It came from a mistake or unpredictability.

Portrait of Len Brachen by Wen LePore, honorable mention in The Art League’s January 2015 exhibit.

More often I paint landscapes and portraits in oil. When I started to paint, I only wanted to use oil media, since Chinese ink painting is very hard to save for hundreds years or longer. There is a more magical result from the wash technique in painting because there is always unpredictability. How many risks I took during the creation — that’s how much surprise I get from it.

It’s very exciting. I feel it is like a casino.

What was your first experience with art as a child?
I went to primary school when I was five. I joined the school band and played the Chinese musical instrument ErHu. I also joined a dancing group and singing group as a conductor in same period, from first year to the end of primary school.

Who or what are your greatest influences?
It’s hard to say … there have been so many.

My parents were my influences in my childhood. My dad taught me music, and he also helped me build my love of nature. My mom taught me how to sing songs and how to perform for an audience.

Memory of One Spring by Wen LePore

After I came to America, my two favorite places to go are the National Gallery of Art and the Torpedo Factory. In the early years I spent a lot of time browsing each floor on weekends at the Torpedo Factory … I still remember which artist has cool metal in the corner of the first floor, who is making little figures in the ceramic space on the third floor, who makes the most elegant cherry blossom carving work on the second floor. All the artists in their studios were my influences.

Then I went to NVCC for art, and I learned the basic techniques of drawing, painting, and ceramics there. In 2010, I joined Arlington Artists Alliance, a wonderful artists group, and then I joined The Art League. I met Rose O’Donnell in the gallery, and she is the key person who guided me to The Art League school, where I have been taking higher professional training since 2015.

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