Artist Profile: Laurel Thompson

Having relocated to Portland, Corvallis ex-expatriate and artist Laurel Thompson does our entire state an honor with her skill as a watercolor painter. Oftentimes taking a backseat to the goliaths of oil and acrylic, watercolor is a fantastic and diverse medium that Laurel commands in a way that is all her own. Inking beautiful landscapes, portraits, and more, with elegant, expressive gestures that render viewers instantly emotionally and spiritually connected appears to be effortless. And it only furthers the theory that there’s something in Corvallis’ water that produces artists who are able to infuse their work with large portions of themselves—so much so that at times the aspects of technical innovation present almost become irrelevant.


Thompson grew up and was home-schooled in Corvallis, primarily teaching herself to paint. She eventually came to study painting under the wing of another fantastic (and local!) watercolorist, Marjorie Kinch (do yourself a favor and visit Although today Thompson is primarily a water-colorist, she also dabbles in other mediums. Her other projects include acrylics on wood and fabric (such as shoes!) as well as jewelry. Visit her website ( for a variety of examples that make it abundantly clear that her talent is certainly not confined to a single area.

When responding to inquiry on the topic, she said that her reason for going with acrylic on those aforementioned projects is, “…because you can’t use watercolor,” which I can personally relate to, although in reverse.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll never love any medium as much as I love watercolor,” Thompson stated. “I love the fluidity of it. Even though my pieces are often filled with tiny details, one of my favorite things to do is throw down lots of water and color and watch it play, and see what it does on its own.”


Thompson’s recent work gathered inspiration from the painted archive of Gustav Klimt (including experiments with liquid gold leaf). As is evident in her work, she is also greatly influenced by illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac. Thompson’s paintings often contains strong elements of nature and women, but in her own words this has more to do with just being drawn to their beauty as opposed to anything else.

Having won the People’s Choice Award at The Art Center’s 2009 Howland Community Open Exhibition, she has since kept busy! Returning to Corvallis for her fourth exhibit at the Sunnyside Up Café in January, her work will hang for the entire month, from News Year’s Eve until February 1st.

by Johnny Beaver