Born in Caernarvon in North Wales, he attended the local grammar school before completing external studies through London University. He worked in the finance department of Caernarvon County Council, serving as Town Clerk before his retirement.
Wyatt Warren was a self-taught painter and an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in North Wales. He painted the breath taking scenery around his native Snowdonia in the impasto, palette knife sculpted style of the North Welsh school made famous by its master, the late Sir Kyffin Williams.
Kyffin Williams was a clear influence on Wyatt Warrens’ painting style, as he was to so many Welsh landscape painters of the post war generation. He is known to have encouraged and to some extent taught Wyatt Warren and patronised the various societies in the area that Wyatt Warren was instrumental in founding. Stylistically Wyatt Warren’s paintings followed the same developmental trajectory as Kyffin, beginning in the 1950s with a solid traditional brushstroke and morphing by degrees into the dramatic palette knife impressions of the 1970s and 80s.
These two distinct styles divide collectors of Wyatt Warren’s work. The more traditional views are more classical in feel and known for their silver birch trees, shamelessly included to show off his technical ability with paint. The later, looser style is more what one would expect from a Kyffin, however the application is more fluid and the marks less angular, the resulting effect being all the more softer in feel. His colour palette changed similarly, the early works have a crisp naturalism about them, greens and browns of the countryside dominate whereas over the decades the later style is accompanied by fresh, undiluted colours that leave the 1950s far behind.
Since he enjoyed success as a full time civil servant and painted in every moment of his spare time is often thought of as a gifted amateur. Wyatt Warren’s talent alone clearly belies this but more so the prodigious output and exhibition record over his lifetime. He held over fifty solo shows in his lifetime, mainly in this country but often in North America and Canada and notably, in 1960, at the London Welsh in London. He was a founder member and secretary of the North Wales Group, a member of the Caernarvon Art Group and the Paddington Art Society.
He exhibited regularly publicly at the Royal Cambrian Academy, the Denbighshire Art Society, the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils and the Royal National Eisteddfod. Both NATO and University College, Bangor commissioned his paintings, and his work is represented in the public collections of Derbyshire County Council, Gwynedd County Council, the Contemporary Arts Society (Wales), the National Library of Wales and the Government Art Collection.
One of the last undiscovered painters of the twentieth century Welsh school, Charles Wyatt Warren is definitely one to watch.
© Panter & Hall 2012
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