Wednesday, April 11, 2012


L.A. Expressway

Lake Michigan Dusk
Cyclist in the City
All images from

A dedicated painter of light, Mark Laguë was born in Lachine, Quebec in 1964. Mark has had a fascination with drawing since childhood, a skill he practices constantly, even to this day. Upon graduation from Concordia University in Design, Mark embarked on a 13-year career in the animation industry, working primarily as a background designer and art director. During this time, despite working full time, Mark began receiving international acclaim for his watercolor paintings through competitions, juried shows, and solo exhibitions. In 2000 Mark switched to oil as his primary medium, and in 2002 made the jump to full time painter. Mark is a realist, open to virtually all subject matter. What keeps him excited about painting is his endless quest to simplify and get to the essence of whatever he paints.

NYC Jogger

London Bus Stop

Edge of Golden Gate Park
All images from

Mark Lague is new to many people in Atlanta, but he is renowned throughout Canada and the United States for his technical urban landscapes and realistic figures that capture a singular moment in time. He transforms every day, mundane, and “normal” scenes into something extraordinary and dynamic. His compositions are layered, yet uncluttered. He works in the moment, which lends an element of spontaneity, yet the final painting that emerges seems to be laid out in an orderly fashion from start to finish. Lague prefers to paint from life, but this is not always possible, so he uses digital pictures to capture the light, feeling, and movement of the scene he wants to paint later. From his memory and the pictures, he starts with a pencil sketch. Then he lays out the value pattern and composition, which relate to the placement of colors and objects. He wants his work to have a strong value foundation. He layers various shades of color into the painting in such a way that the composition grounds itself by having each piece of subject matter he paints complement whatever is around it. It fits together like a complex jigsaw puzzle. Based on this, the format for the final painting is already in place. The last thing he does is to insert darks and lights where they are needed.
(Huff Harrington Fine Art at

By the Forum

Long Shadows

Parisian Spring

Rome at Noon
All images from

Mark Lague captures the energy and spirit of downtown. Viewers are captivated by this artist’s exciting brush strokes and by the reflections of city lights at night or of wet pavement on a rainy day. It is hard to believe that in the early years, this artist painted in a highly detailed, ultra realistic style. After years of painting background designs at a major animation studio, and after much experimentation, Lague ultimately developed his characteristic bold brush stroke. New York, Rome, San Francisco and London are some of Lague’s favorite urban settings to paint. The scenes he depicts–taxicabs, diners at an outdoor cafĂ©, people waiting for a bus–speak simply yet powerfully about big city life. “It is very important for me to spend enough time in a city to really get the feel of the place before I start a painting. You have to be right in the middle of Times Square to know just how frantic it really is. I think this direct, firsthand experience comes through in a painting.”

New York City Buses

Sunlight on Fifth Ave.
From RayMar Art, Inc at

“The switch over to oil was actually quite gradual. As I got more serious about painting, and started working larger, I found that all the things that made watercolor exciting to me were becoming less relevant to what I was trying to do. As much as I loved (and still love) the immediacy of watercolor, I just felt at a point that it was more of drawing, rather than a painting medium. From the first day I started working in the animation industry, I knew that at some point I wanted to paint full time. I painted every night after work until I was confident enough to enter juried competitions. Once I started having some success I began to think about when would be a good time to make the leap. The problem was, the company I was working for was doing extremely well (even giving stock options to the artists), which made it difficult to leave. Then, serendipity intervened, and the company had a massive financial scandal that basically took the company down. The decision to leave was now obvious. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made."
"Drawing is the most important skill a painter can have. I think the best advice I ever got was from master watercolorist Frank Webb. He said you need to learn to 'paint with a pencil,' which is really the ability to see as a painter, regardless of medium. Once you master this, you come to see that drawing and painting are one and the same thing. So, by nurturing your drawing skills, you are actually learning to see as a painter. Deciding what to paint on a given day really comes down to how excited I am by the light. If I can come up with an interesting pattern of lights and darks, it really doesn't matter what the subject matter is."
"Sometimes when I'm teaching a workshop, a student will want to work from a photo that has sentimental value to them, but absolutely nothing of interest visually. I always try to convince them to paint something else. I try to heed my own advice when I'm faced with pressure from a gallery to paint specific subject matter. If I'm not excited by the light, then paint something else. When I'm analyzing what I'm going paint, my primary goal is to strip away all unnecessary details to come up with the simplest, strongest possible statement. This is best achieved by starting with a small value study (painting with a pencil) through squinted eyes. This allows me to see the big shapes of light, while freeing me from the constraints of the subject matter, seeing only relative values. While I find that pretty much anything is fair game to paint, I still find myself gravitating towards the hustle and bustle of the city for subject matter. This presents obvious challenges for working from life. When I shoot photos of life in the city, I always look for interesting light patterns, and take hundreds of exposures from multiple angles. Then comes the very time consuming part when I go through all the photos to filter down to the few that have the possibility to become a finished painting. Of these I do value studies to further eliminate all but the most interesting images. I would estimate that I take roughly 100 photos for every one that will become a painting.”
(Interview with Oil Painter Mark Lague Submitted by: Kelly Powers at

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