Whether he’s painting landscapes, farmhouses, barns, portraits, or still lifes, realist painter Eric G. Thompson captures quiet moments of stillness tinged with the wistful feeling of a time gone by. The aging façade of a house under the bright sun, the worn and peeling paint on an old shed, and the pale winter grasses surrounding an old farmstead are just a few of the types of small observations that, for their imperfect beauty, evoke serenity and reverence in the viewer. Egg tempera is one of the Salt Lake City-based artist’s primary mediums, along with oil paints; he uses it to capture both prosaic scenes rich in detail and a luminous quality of light that evokes the different seasons and times of day.
Tempera painting dates at least as far back as the Early Dynastic period of ancient Egypt (circa 3100 BCE). The fast-drying medium consists of colored pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder. Traditionally, the binder is egg yolk. It has been found on the decorations of Egyptian sarcophagi, the Fayum mummy portraits of classical antiquity, and the illuminated manuscripts of medieval and Renaissance Europe; and it has seen revivals in Western art traditions throughout the Common Era, including the Pre-Raphaelite art of the 19th century and the Social Realism of the 1930s. It’s used in the traditional Orthodox religious iconography of Greece and Russia to this day. A self-taught artist who’s been painting since 1989, Thompson made his first egg tempera painting using egg yolks from the chickens on his father’s farm.
Thompson gives a free demonstration of the stringent techniques of working with egg tempera at Meyer Gallery (225 Canyon Road), where he is represented locally. It’s a difficult medium to work with. Unlike the more versatile medium of oil paint, egg tempera doesn’t mix easily, but it’s revered for its jewel-like tones, which are applied in thin layers using small, careful brushstrokes.
The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. Call 505-983-1434 or visit meyergalleries.com for more information.