Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arguably my favorite artist ever, Marcia Myers

When you see something for the first time and it speaks to your soul, you don't forget it. I'll never forget the first time that I saw a painting by an artist whom I had never heard of before. Was this painting a Rothko (my then current favorite)? It had such depth and character, but it wasn't quite his work. The colors were so vivid, the patina unmistakable. How was that achieved? Who was this artist? Luckily, Google came to the rescue and I discovered Marcia Myers. I soon owned the Hudson Hills Press publication named Marcia Myers Twenty Years: Paintings and Works on Paper 1982-2002 by Dr. Renee H. Shea. It is one gorgeous, oversized book that I refer to often.

Marcia Myers was best known as a fresco artist who painted abstract canvases that reflected her love of Pompeii, the frescoes of the Renaissance and contemporary abstract paintings. She loved to experiment and developed a layered technique of combining unorthodox mediums with the traditional to produce the textured frescoes.

After completing her MFA in painting at George Washington University and a Fulbright scholarship,  Marcia began teaching Art History at the Madeira School in Virginia. She later credited her academic training, including classes on materials and methods, with giving her the confidence to push the limits with the mediums that she experimented with when creating her frescoes.

Marcia was deeply influenced by the ancient ruins in Pompeii and Herculaneum, making over thirty visits to study the frescoed walls. She strived to capture the incredibly rich colors and amazing textures, beginning with works on paper and later moving to large linen canvas.

Myers began painting with oils and pigments, layering thin layers of oil glazes and creating textures with paper and fabric. Works done by abstract painters, such as Mark Rothko and William Turner, were her early inspirations.   

Myers continued to develop and refine her technique, using the raw, historical pigments favored by the Renaissance artists. She layered the pigments along with marble dust and clear acrylic varnish, combining many layers to achieve the luminous depths and vibrant colors that define her paintings.

Myers started to paint in series, working on two or three canvases at one time, moving back and forth between them. These abstract diptychs and triptychs showed off her rich colors: burnished red-oranges, creamy whites, mustard yellows and cool turquoises and blues. 

Instead of layering the powder pigments into fresh plaster as in the frescoes of Pompeii and the Renaissance, she produced her frescoes by layering the pigments and marble dust on to clear varnishes and glazes, thus displaying a thoroughly modern take on the ancient medium. Using the powder pigments allowed her to make the most of each pigment's properties. While the ochres created a more opaque surface, the reds were more transparent. Lapis lazuli pigment stayed suspended in the medium, thus shimmering in light.

Marcia Myers' chipped and scraped surfaces continue to draw me in to contemplate and admire. 

What is your favorite? 

Marcia Myers died an untimely death in 2008. For those of you lucky enough to live close to the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho, the Gallery is presenting Riches of Remembrance, a collection of Marcia's work. From December 20, 2010 through January 31, 2011, the paintings to be shown are mainly from her own personal collection.


  1. Gorgeous a lovely introduction to a very interesting artist!

  2. Hi Ann
    the details you have shared are fascinating.. I can see the resemblance to the frescoes of Pompeii,. I visited there in ??1993 and am still fascinated by the photos I took.. the colours and patina are somewhat mystical..

    Thanks for sharing your discovery with us.. How sad she had such a short life..

    I've been a bit absent from blogging these last weeks and must catch up.. So hope you Christmas is delightful and thanks so much for your always kind comments and support this year.. ciao xxx Julie

  3. Just gorgeous! I love them all but the last one is my favorite.

  4. Of course now I am catching up on your blogs, beautiful work you do also. This just kills me, absolutely beautiful, drowning in pigmets

  5. Cat- See if you can find her book. Incredible and so inspiring. Marcia is like a modern day Rothko- and I know how we both feel about his painting!

  6. Padua is one of my favorites. For fifteen years my husband built the stretchers for Marcia's paintings, including some of the black frames in her later works after 2002. Not only was she an amazing artist, but she was a special person. We still miss her. I'm happy to have stumbled onto your blog.

  7. I attended the Madeira School in the 1970's and Marcia Myers introduced me to the world of art. While studying AP Art History with Ms. Myers in 1974, fellow students and I toured Italy with her over winter break. It was a spectacular trip... and yes we savored Pompeii! Ms. Myers had an amazing impact on me- I went on to receive a BA in Art History, worked for Sotheby's, and now own a gallery in Florida. Thank you Marcia Myers for all that you gave us!

  8. I had recently purchased the book about marcia's twenty years of work. apparently it was published before her death (which i was totally un aware of). This is very sad, Kelley what happened to marcia? she was such a wonderful talent? Her work will be missed, although it seems there are still some galleries that carry pieces. as far as favourites - there are so many, but in this series, i like Scavi CXXVI, 1999 Shelby, you were lucky to know here as well, where is your gallery in Florida. I visit Sarasota often.

  9. I have studied Marcia's work for years in my armchair. Her book has been a constant source of inspiration for my own paintings. We lost her much too soon.
    Patricia Oblack

  10. Thank you for this wonderful post. I just linked to it on my own blog