If you’re into art and haven’t heard of Lauren Bruce Wodicka, chances are you will soon. The 35-year-old Leesburg artist is building a following for her fresh-yet-classic style.
Bruce’s warm painter’s eye and southern-girl charm are attracting a new generation of art lovers in Loudoun, with young professionals and families snapping up her luxurious landscapes and still lifes.
Bruce is the featured artist during a First Friday reception at Hunt Country Sotheby’s International Realty in Leesburg on Aug. 5. Her works are also displayed at the nearby 27 South Interiors design store.
A former Alexandria gallerist, Bruce has turned her impressionist’s eye to pastoral landscapes since moving to Leesburg five years ago. And there’s a quiet magic in her paintings of farms and vineyards, water scenes and interiors.
“Sometimes people will say you feel like you’re pulled in, like there’s a pathway in,” Bruce said of her work.
Bruce, who lives in Leesburg with her husband and young children, has a studio in her home, where she also runs an interior design business.
She grew up in Lynchburg and has loved painting as long as she can remember. One of her first paintings was an homage to the French impressionist Claude Monet, she said, and the impressionist influence is still evident in her work. However, she recalled with a laugh, her first paid commission was not an impressionist landscape but a painting of her high school football team.
Bruce studied studio art and art history at James Madison University and spent her senior year studying painting at the Lorenzo De Medici Institute in Florence, Italy, adding European training to her repertoire.
“I do think the way my eye sees light and color might have been impacted by being in Europe,” Bruce said.
After college, Bruce relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she joined the renowned Art League and opened Lauren B. Gallery on King Street while still in her 20s. In Old Town’s thriving art and design scene, the young artist built a base of clients from around the country for her paintings and also launched her design business as she began to include refinished furniture in her gallery and clients began asking for design help in their homes.
“I sort of fell into the design world by way of my shop. I do love helping people in their house, too. The two sort of go hand in hand,” Bruce said. “It’s always been a really nice balance for me to do both.”
Five years ago, when Bruce was pregnant with her first child, she and her husband moved to Leesburg. Bruce had become a fan of Loudoun County during her time in Alexandria through furniture and décor-finding trips to Lucketts and Leesburg. And the town seemed like a perfect fit for a young family.
“I grew up in a town with a heart. Alexandria had a heart. In a lot of areas in Northern Virginia, I couldn’t find a historical town center, something that enriched the community. [Leesburg] felt more charming and as an artist I need that,” Bruce said.
The county’s spectacular scenery has also been an inspiration, and Bruce’s work highlights Loudoun’s rural and historic appeal, as illustrated in a recent series featuring Oatlands Historic House and Gardens.
Bruce now has two children, ages 5 and 2½, and fits the image of a polished Loudoun County mom with a laid-back style. But she’s known as a talented and hardworking artist, and has devoted the past few years to building connections with buyers and fellow members of Loudoun’s close-knit arts community. Bruce made a splash in June when she participated in the annual Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour as a featured artist at Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville and has also been artist in residence at the new 27 South Interiors, which opened on King Street in May.
She met 27 South owners Carolyn and Nick McCarter shortly after moving to Leesburg and instantly clicked with the couple and their design esthetic. Their relationship has meant a chance for Bruce to get her work in front of a slightly different audience.
“Putting your artwork somewhere other than a gallery often times exposes you to people who wouldn’t typically walk into a gallery,” Bruce said. “Sometimes galleries can feel intimidating—or someone doesn’t even know they want a piece of art.”
Commissions are a big part of Bruce’s work as new clients request paintings of their own of favorite farms and vineyards. She sells small paintings for as low as $50 while larger pieces go for $2,000 and up. She said she is usually able to work with clients to find a price that meets their budget for a commissioned piece. And for Bruce, that connection with clients is a key part of her work.
“That moment where you see that connection happen and they love it as much as you love it: that’s what makes me want to paint.”
See Lauren Bruce Wodicka’s work at a First Friday reception Friday, Aug. 5, at Sotheby’s Hunt Country International Realty, 22 W. Market St., Leesburg. Details at laurenbrucestudio.com.