Opening exhibit to be retrospective of artist’s life work

Audrey Dwyer
Mark Thompson, an egg tempera and etching artist, sits in front of one of his paintings at the Steamboat Art Museum. You can see Thompson's work starting Friday. It will be the museum's winter exhibit.
John F. Russell

First Friday Artwalk listings

Find this month's Artwalk listings here.

— On an ordinary day at the studio, artist Mark Thompson will place tiles on the floor or set up strawberries strategically on a table to display the vision he has in his head.

His deliberate tactics allow his paintings to be precise, leaving little room for mistakes.

The final interpretation of the scenes he creates will be on display at the Steamboat Art Museum beginning this Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. in correlation with the First Friday Artwalk.

Referred to as the “Retrospective Exhibit,” Thompson’s work delves into his life’s passion throughout the course of many years. Some of the paintings and etchings go back 30 years or more, showcasing a significant amount of time and variety of inspiration.

Thompson works in the media of egg tempera and etching, both referred to as Renaissance art forms and each requiring patience.

“He is a master at what he does,” said Mark Kihle, sales manager of the Knox Gallery in Beaver Creek and a friend of Thompson’s for 30 years. “When people see his work, they are often mesmerized at his paintings and attention to detail.”

His work includes detail so apparent that if a viewer looks close enough, an image of Thompson can be found through a reflection somewhere in the painting.

“When people see something painted, it’s always like looking at the real thing,” Thompson said. “It depends on how well the image is painted. With these paintings, I want people to recognize the texture in something as simple as a piece of cloth.”

These techniques, he said, gives him ties with the past.

“It intrigued me that artists before me used these methods,” he said. “There is longevity there.”

Thompson explained that egg tempera is a fast-drying, permanent method consisting of a water soluble binder medium of egg yokes mixed with colored pigment. The challenge with this, he said, is that the paint dries rapidly and requires certain precision in movement of the paintbrush.

“It’s less forgiving and takes a certain kind of person to enjoy it and stick with it,” he said about the process.

Also at the exhibit, 30 of his etchings with a resemblance to sketched drawings will be present. His etching process consists of drawing with an etching needle to scratch through a zinc or copper plate. It then is submerged in a bath of acid, covered in ink, then wiped off. The ink will remain only in the bitten lines. The plate then will be covered with damp paper and run through a press, forcing the paper down into the lines and picking up the ink.

“He does a difficult medium that people are not used to looking at; not many artists work in this medium anymore,” said Shirley Stocks, president and curator at Steamboat Art Museum. “The detail is just phenomenal.”

As a native of Colorado, Thompson is a frequent visitor to Steamboat Springs, but this will be the first time his work will be featured in an exhibit.

In addition to the opening reception Friday, Thompson will lead a lecture and demo at 10 a.m. Saturday with tickets priced at $20 or $10 for members. There also will be a Night at the Museum Dinner held Saturday night.

In addition Friday night, the Steamboat Art Museum will feature Wes and Rachelle Siegrist’s Exquisite Miniatures. Their watercolor paintings are so intricately rendered, they often are mistaken for a photograph and must be seen with a magnifying glass. The husband and wife team often are referred to as “world ambassadors for miniature art.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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