A local painter’s journey into the real and surreal landscapes of our region leads to 2015 State Museum of Pennsylvania Purchase Prize.
If you visit the studio of local artist Lauren Litwa you’ll notice a few things immediately… She is a prolific painter. Her works fill the sun-drenched studio in Wawa, PA with landscapes that stretch from real to surreal, but always with rich colors dominating the canvas.
Lauren, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, paints the local landscape ranging from pastoral settings around her studio in Wawa, to the pipelines, smokestacks and industrial vents that jut into the Marcus Hook skyline. She paints the landscape of the Brandywine Valley, the barns of Lancaster County and the streams and mountain ranges of Lycoming County all with a distinct vision of the world around her.
Then there are her landscapes that steal elements from one another… A ladder, a hoop, an industrial vent, spheres or birds placed in an unsuspected landscape. An industrial vent looks comfortably at home against the soothing backdrop of the Allegheny Plateau. Whether it’s a painting of a stream, a field, a farmhouse or a factory her canvases are the vehicle for deep, rich color built in layer after layer of oil or watercolor.
The State Museum first recognized her work in the 39th Annual Art of the State competition in 2006 with the first prize for painting. This year at the 48th annual competition, the State Museum of Pennsylvania awarded her with the Purchase Prize, and her painting “Tekla’s Ladder” will join the permanent collection of the museum in Harrisburg, PA.
Lauren moved to the Wawa area of Chester Heights 30 years ago. Her and her then husband Thom built a home on Wawa Road with a modest studio space in what was suppose to be the master bedroom.
Seven years later she received a letter from the Elizabeth Greensheilds Foundation, an organization dedicated to the success of emerging artist throughout North America, awarding her a grant to build a separate studio space at their home in Wawa. Lauren went on to receive a residency in Florence, Italy and a few years later a residency at the American-treasured Margo Kelb Dune Shacks, located in our National Seashore outside Provincetown, RI. Past residents of the Dune Shacks include painters Jackson Pollock and Willem de Koonig, and writers Eugene O’Niell and Jack Kerouac… That’s pretty heady company for an emerging artist from Delco.
“Inspiration for my work comes from nature, dreams and my imagination. Painting outdoors inspires me and brings new elements to my work. One mark or color leads you on to the next brushstroke. Staying open to the process and “listening” to that response is what makes interesting paintings. Whatever the subject matter is, it becomes my fanciful, lyrical and mysterious world”, states Litwa.
While raising their two children, Jordan now 27 and Carley 24, Lauren would rise earlier, go to the studio to paint for three or four hours before her day started with the kids. It was a busy time, but she never lost focus on her art.
The great American painter Will Barnet was one of her instructors at The Academy, and later was quoted as saying,
“There is a quality of lyricism in the paintings of Lauren Litwa. She approaches the landscape with a poetic expression and captures a fine sense of light and a dreamlike feel. She uses the sky as a format for her paintings and a sense of spirituality comes through in her new work”. - Will Barnet
Currently Lauren is on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Governor’s Mansion in Harrisburg through “PA Arts Experience”, and a solo show at Darlington Fine Art Center opening December 6th in Garnet Valley, PA. But maybe one of the best ways to view and purchase her vast collection of original oil paintings, watercolors, as well as fine art prints is to visit her studio located at 112 Wawa Road in Wawa, PA. There are several “Open Studio” events planned, or you can call 610.937.1411 to make an appointment.
Considering Lauren’s shows in New York City, Brussels Belgium, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, to her Open Studio events in Wawa, PA, Lauren’s goal remains the same…
“My paintings represent the natural landscapes that surround and inspire me. Love of the environment & natural world are always at the root of my work. Whether the object is a factory, barn, hillside, or mountain stream, the goal is to create a landscape that can be a retreat from our stressful world. I agree with the artist Piet Mondrian who said, “The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.”
Update 2021 - Lauren's new studio is located at 5131 Russett Road in Rockville, Maryland. She also paints in her studio in English Center, Pennsylvania. Contact Lauren@LitwaArt.com to schedule an appointment to see and purchase original works on paper, oil paintings & oil on copper on wood panels paintings.
"Out of the Fire" oil/panel 20"x20" Purchased by The Butler Trust Fellowship PAFA