The Arts in Folsom: Tracy Lauth; Called to Create
Award-winning plein air artist Tracy Lauth has roots rich in California’s Gold Rush history. Growing up in Salinas—where her family settled in the mid-1800s to seek their fortune—Lauth continued living in the Bay Area after graduating from the International Culinary Center. The former executive chef and owner of Black Tie Fine Catering eventually traded her pots and pans in for paintbrushes and turned her detail-oriented, artistic eye to canvas—capturing majestic cities and landscapes filled with emotion and light. Since relocating with her husband to Placerville, Lauth has held solo exhibits throughout the area at Marshall Medical Center and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors office, and shown her work at Harris Center’s Bank of America Gallery and numerous juried competitions. “Being a full-time artist doesn’t mean you paint full-time—people often have an image of artists as dark, moody, introverts hidden away in a studio surrounded by unfinished [pieces] where they work 24 hours a day creating masterpieces,” shares Lauth. “That’s mostly in the movies. I live a bright, fulfilling life.”
HLB: When did you discover your talent for plein air?
TL: I started in photorealism, [followed by impressionism] with a bit of abstract thrown in, and was exclusively a studio painter. When an opportunity arose to enter a plein air competition, I took a chance. Painting outdoors was amazing; I was seeing everything in its natural state: colors, shadows, values, tones, and life! I painted the same scene five times in three days until I got it right and won first place. From then on, I was hooked and now travel to competitions, paint outs, and symposiums to study and hone my skill. I paint with oil and use brushes, fingers, sponges, and palette knives.
HLB: Where do you seek inspiration?
TL: I’m obsessed with skies—clouds, sunrises, sunsets, fog, and rain. I can sit on my sofa, look out the window, and see a kaleidoscope of colors and light. My paintings often begin with the sky then the foreground. When I’m feeling uninspired, I just go outside. I live on three acres at the top of a hill where you can see for miles, which gives my mind some breathing room.
HLB: You’re a bit of a globetrotter. How have your travels influenced your work?
TL: The world is a beautiful place filled with amazing people. My obsession with food and art has taken me on some great adventures. Most recently, I spent a month traveling solo in Greece, going to culinary school in Athens and Poros, and visiting the ruins and smaller islands to photograph and sketch for paintings. The colors of the Mediterranean were stunning, but the people and cuisine were even better.
HLB: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
TL: Identifying my own personal style [as]something that I love and embrace. Plein air allows me to be me. It’s about painting outdoors, in person, with your subject. Aside from the heat, cold, bugs, wind, and rain, it’s amazing. lauthfineart.com
by Heather L. Becker