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Marny Lawton
Featured Artist Working in Egg Tempera, and Oils

Still life paintings by the Old Masters often depict objects symbolizing the wealth of the client who commissioned the piece. The paintings themselves became another way to showcase the owner’s wealth. In today’s fast-paced life, the desire for material possessions has been replaced for many by the longing for time to slow down and live in greater awareness of the present moment. In capturing a moment, still life paintings today offer the viewer an experience of that wished-for luxury of time, an opportunity to see and contemplate the luminous qualities of everyday objects, nature, or landscapes. This can be likened to enjoying a piece of music again and again.


Like the Old Masters, I see the gemlike qualities of everyday scenes and objects: iridescence, color changes where the light hits a curve, shapes refracted through a water-filled glass bottle, shadows, and reflections in landscapes. I’m inspired to paint what’s often overlooked, things not seen with a fleeting glance. My goal is not photorealism—photographs show only what the camera sees—but to offer the viewer a chance to pause and see ordinary things in a new way. If I’m successful, different things are seen each time one looks at the painting. Like the Old Masters, too, I paint in egg tempera and oil. In my art classes in the studios of the Wadsworth Atheneum, I began at the age of nine to learn the magic of their processes. I loved the smell of the oil paint and the connection with my subject through drawing. Today, I become an alchemist when immersed in the multi-step process of mixing pigments, gesso, or shellac, particularly for egg tempera. Whether working in egg tempera, with the slow building of translucent layers, or in oil with more freedom for experimentation with longer drying time, the process intensifies my perception of the object, reflected in the finished piece. Both suit my style and subject matter.

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