Laurie Marchessault

Artist Details
Laurie Marchessault
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Laurie Marchessault’s still-life paintings capture a moment in time, undisturbed and seemingly serene, but are they? She wants YOU to decide. At first glance, you may see an arrangement of what seem like unconnected objects, but her paintings invite, even beckon, the viewer to stop and enter into an emerging and very connected narrative. Do you see scarcity or abundance? Austerity or exuberance? Faith or skepticism? Or will the painting’s quiet grace give you a feeling of happiness or contentment? It’s your experience, and what you can be sure of is an emotional response and the triggering of both memory and imagination and this is where you’ll find the magic in Marchessault’s work.

Using found objects as well as the many gifts of nature, she carefully organizes an overall design. She begins by determining a tonal and spatial composition and at the same time carefully develops a unique and pleasing color palette testing the theories of color harmony. She layers the composition in such a way that it challenges the viewer to see through a veil, the magic elements of one’s own psyche. She touches on Magic Realism, a school of painting that gives one’s imagination the space to be open to possibility and to find the connections between seemingly unconnected objects. Watch for her play of light and contrast shadows, her reflections in glass and mirrors. You might even see an entire world or big picture of something in what seems, at the moment, a minute detail.

Marchessault describes herself as somewhat of a Modernist who paints in the manner of the revered Old Masters. Her technique includes a layering of paint called Glazing. “In this process there is a genuine unfolding of form and atmosphere. The painting becomes three-dimensional and as I work I am always searching for treasures of exquisite color, light and luminosity to present themselves.” She is most inspired by artists Fairfield Porter, Evan Uglow and Gerhard Richter.

Laurie, raised by artist parents, is a fifth-generation Northern California who has lived, studied, and observed art in many countries. She began her studies at UC Santa Barbara where in the late 60’s she was introduced to conceptual art and was encouraged to be a discerning thinker and observer. After a year abroad at the University of Stockholm, Sweden and a stint with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, she started a retail career and became a buyer/ product design executive for upscale retailers affording her International travel to many countries including Sweden, the Soviet Union, Asia, India and Europe.

In the 80’s Marchessault moved to New York City and Connecticut. She retired from retailing to raise a daughter and take up painting. Under the direction of Kirill Doron at Silvermine Guild of Artists in New Canaan, CT Laurie settled into painting still-lifes, a genre of painting that she feels best suits her narrative impulses. She also attended classes at Lyme Art Academy in CT and the Art Student’s League in NYC, studied under New York artist Phyllis
Agne, was a member of the Brush and Palette, a portrait and figure painting group in New Haven, CT as well as a member of a six artist co-op The Elm City Artist Gallery located on the campus of Yale University. And as a ‘fair weather’ painter she spent her best days Plein-air painting in New England particularly along the Shoreline of CT.

Laurie has finally returned and settled back home in California and currently resides in Napa. She teaches a Beginners Oil Painting class at the Napa Valley Art Cener. She is delighted and inspired not only by the Napa Valley’s natural beauty and culture but the thriving, creative energy of its local artisans and the civility of the residents here!

Art Association Napa Valley is supported, in part, by the Napa County Arts & Culture Commission.

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