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Minimalism of Egg Tempera Paintings
Teagan McLarnan, a young California-based artist, shines a light on a forgotten medium and makes it contemporary by using the ancient art of egg tempera. This entails making her paints and gesso boards from scratch using egg, pigment, and rabbit skin glue in a painstakingly patient process. McLarnan is dedicated to the old-world craft, creating strikingly intricate and soul-touching visuals that scream with simplicity and pop-realism. From her gorgeously sumptuous food studies found in the “Farm to Fork” series to her radically wholesome and contemporary portrayal of the rawness of femininity in her female nude series “Lines”, Teagan McLarnan certainly goes the extra mile to present a unique dedication and organic aesthetic.
McLarnan’s family avidly supported her artistic ambition and provided her with personal oil painting tuition during her time at high school. “My dad was a professional baseball player and would give me countless one on one motivational talks to pursue my dream of becoming a professional artist.” During her art lessons, McLarnan copied some of the most recognized artists’ works learning the way they manipulated materials and created their masterpieces. This is where she gained respect and interest in traditional painting methods; she later attended Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Connecticut.
“At Lyme Academy, I learned how to build my own wood panels, create traditional gesso with marble dust and rabbit skin glue, as well as make egg tempera. I believe that I ended up in the style that I am currently working in because of all the master copies I did and how obsessive I became in the pursuit to be as good as them.”
McLarnan begins her patient process with concept sketches and then sets to work creating her fresh materials, applying gesso to her panels and new batches of egg tempera daily by mixing egg and pigment together. “Egg Tempera is very transparent so it takes multiple layers of paint to build up the color. Also, Egg Tempera does not blend like other paints such as oils; it takes thousands of tiny strokes and cross-hatching to get the illusion of blended colors and forms.” The intricate application of thousands of separate strokes is a testament to the unique, detailed beauty of McLarnan’s pieces, from the shine of fruit skin to the blood translucently shining through a knee joint, this process creates a truly striking realism with a contemporary stylisation.
“I try to make every stroke count and have a purpose. Although my subjects are usually very complex I contrast them with simplistic backgrounds and negative space – It’s all about push and pull and I think some pieces are more successful than others. My motto is ‘keep it simple, stupid’.”
Her bold and beautiful representation of women serves as a direct contrast between historical representations, often painted idealistically like a gem to be admired by men; her work serves as an honest and empowering display of skin, fat, blood and bone structure, celebrating the raw, imperfect humanism that women wear.
“I am trying to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle that is the “art world”. I am so incredibly driven and know that no matter what the obstacles and challenges I face and already have faced is worth it. I have big dreams and expectations and will do everything in my power to achieve them. Because of my age, I think there are so many possibilities and to be a dreamer is the most exciting thing of all. Nothing can stop me.”