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Marguerite Lawler

Marguerite is a painter working in gouache (watercolor with chalk), watercolor, and oil. She has been at RWS since January 2021.

In her painting, Marguerite usually focuses on composition. Spatial depth is a recurring theme in her work and she considers a painting successful when the viewer is enveloped in it. She paints landscapes and, though she works on location, she likes to bring the painting back to the studio where she can continue to work on it. She will also use photo references to borrow parts or objects from the image to add to her paintings. Sometimes she adds (or makes up objects) a tree or moves them around to better capture her interpretation of where she was and what she was feeling. It makes the painting more about her and less about what was there.

The terrain of Maine inspires her and the different regions with their different rocks and mosses. She usually paints the ocean and interior woods. She attributes this to growing up in Portland, where the ocean is inescapable, and to her parents who would take her to the Two Lights area every week as a child. Marguerite also loves to travel. She teaches art and before Covid she would travel a lot in the summer or during school vacations. Italy is her favorite destination, which she has put on hold due to the pandemic. She’s been going to Monhegan for the last twenty years where she teaches workshops. She also loves Vinalhaven and goes up to Addison and Deer Isle.

Making art is a compulsion for Marguerite. If she’s not painting, she’s making books. If she’s not making books, she’s drawing. If she’s not drawing, she’s “marblizing” paper. She works on multiple pieces at the same time for objectivity. “If you work on it too long you lose your objectivity. You can't see what you’re doing. You think you know what you’re going to do but what you end up doing is totally different because you’re shifting over from the left side of your brian to the right side. You do what’s intuitively there.” Making art is a way for her to calm her internal person. It helps her make sense of the world and it’s where she fits in. “I think it’s more interesting than anything else out there. It can be fun. It can be awful. It can be painful.”

In addition to her studio at RWS she has a studio at the middle school where she teaches. The studio has high ceilings and plenty of light. She also has multiple studio spaces set up in her home. “At my house, my daughter’s bedroom is the book studio and where I store paintings. The other bedroom is a studio where I teach student classes and I paint in gouache and will do acrylic classes. In the basement by the laundry is an oil painting studio.” She also teaches continuing studies at the art school and used to teach at USM and UNE. She teaches because she likes talking and thinking about art. Contemplating it. Hating it.

“The best teaching I’ve done is having a painting going on in school and showing them how I develop it.” Marguerite recently brought a painting to school that she started two years ago, and she’s been working on it for months. “It shows students what a working artist does. Better yet, it takes the elitism out of it.” It shows the students what tenacity and perseverance look like and how a painting evolves–correcting mistakes, leaving it alone, and coming back to it. Sometimes when there’s downtime at school Marguerite will sit with students and talk about the painting and where it’s going. “And then somebody will inevitably give me the advice of adding a seagull.” She won’t be adding any seagulls, but she values their feedback and the conversation keeps her thinking.

View her work at a lake show she’s in with some friends at Hole in the Wall Studioworks in Raymond this August. The friends have been painting together for eight years, some she’s known since undergrad, and they call themselves “Four”. She’s also teaching a few workshops this summer; two in Monhegan in July and August, and another on Little Cranberry Island in early August.

If you have questions about Marguerite’s art or workshops, she can be contacted through her website.


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