Painting to Establish Intimacy

Painting by Margaret Krug, Dante's Alley (Pierino)
Krug uses unusual processes and techniques,
like in this work, Dante's Alley (Pierino), which
was created with distemper and silver leaf.

Artists create for a lot of reasons–ego, instinct, livelihood–but author and painter Margaret Krug creates for a unique reason: to enfold us in the intimacy and delicacy of her personal artistic vision. Often working on a small scale, sometimes on a surface no larger than a postcard, Krug paints tender and moving works that are tied to her own memories and the beloved people in her life.

"I like to paint and draw my family and ancestors, their mementos, and the places where they have spent time," Krug says. Sometimes the artist has a frame of reference–family stories and legends that have been passed down through the generations. But sometimes she doesn't. "More often, I work from a single, small, faded photograph," she says. But from such meager references, Krug lets her imagination run free, enriching her paintings by creating her own stories about her subject.

Krug's most recent work, showing later this month in a solo exhibition at the Smithy Gallery in Cooperstown, New York, continues in this same vein. Her latest paintings transport viewers to a fictitious place, Dante's Alley, around which Krug has created almost a dozen works that mark different moments in time or different emotions having to deal with places in this dreamy landscape. In her drawings, she represents members of her family and tries to instill certain nostalgic feelings for the distant past.

Drawing by Margaret Krug, Mayme at Henry
Krug's drawings impart a nostalgic,
historical feel to them.

But she also establishes intimacy in her work with the materiality of her process. To Krug, working with her materials can be meditative and how she paints with them becomes an art in and of itself. Working with distemper, casein, egg tempera, encaustic, and silverpoint, among others, Krug allows herself to fall in love with the process of creating art. "I am fascinated by materials–the smell, the feel, and the touch–and the processes of making art," she says. This rapport with her materials led Krug to write An Artist's Handbook: Materials and Techniques, which is being hailed as one of the most instructive and interesting books on art materials written today.

I was smitten once I opened An Artist's Handbook. It is everything I want in an art resource guide for painting techniques. The information is clear, and Krug details all of the painting supplies you could possibly want to use when discovering the wonders of how to paint. The pictures are beautiful and walk you through complex processes step by step. She includes inspiring works of art from artists past and present to get you excited about the processes because you can see the possible ends results of these steps. There are project ideas and painting tips that will show you how to sharpen your skills.

But in the end, I think I go back to the An Artist's Handbook because I could tell I was reading a book from a person who really cares about what she is writing and wants to share that artist's love with all of us. What else could I do but pay it forward and pass this along to all of you? Enjoy–and be sure to check out the Spend More, Save More promotion going on in the North Light Shop right now!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

4 thoughts on “Painting to Establish Intimacy

  1. Distemper- I thought you’d be right that this is a typo. Then I did some googling.

    from About “Distemper is an ancient type of paint made of water, chalk and pigment, bound with either an animal glue or the adhesive qualities of casein (a resin that comes from solidified milk). This combination makes for a thin paint that is not durable, but can be (1) made inexpensively and (2) tinted nearly any color.

    Due to its delicate nature, distemper has been used since Antiquity for wall painting and other types of house decoration either on interior surfaces or outside in regions that seldom, if ever, see rain. Due to the minimal cash outlay required to make it, distemper was also used for posters and scenic backdrops on the stage. It has almost never been used for “Fine Art” paintings.

    Though it saw continual use from ancient Egyptian times to the end of the 19th century, the advent of oil- and Latex-based house paints have rendered distemper obsolete – except in instances of historic, period-authentic structures, where distempered surfaces continue to be maintained.
    Also Known As:

    peinture à la colle”

    I guess we learn something new everyday.

  2. Thanks for the “distemper” education…was wondering the same when read article text. Don’t ya just love Artist Daily?! Paint on!