Tamara Thomsen makes the bones of old homes beautiful. In her large-scale watercolor paintings, spare and elegant architecture is rendered ageless and glamorous in jeweled washes of lime, lemon, magenta and turquoise. Her most recent series, Chambers memorializes Benedict Arnold’s former home, Philadelphia’s neoclassical landmark, Mount Pleasant Mansion.
The resulting paintings are anything but chamber-like. Alternately translucent and opaque washes make the rooms she paints resonate. As she writes, “nothing is impenetrable.” The walls and featured decorative elements breathe with the stories of their past.
Thomsen works from photographs she took of the the interior of the mansion, at a time when it was empty of furniture or other distracting objects. Her color palette is as vibrant as the stories that accompany the home but her focus on the details lays bare the mansion’s glorious history, as described in The New York Times on June 7, 1896:
Its history is flavored strongly with romance, as well as with Revolutionary reminiscences… The fireplaces and chimney pieces are of the generous old-fashioned style. The woodwork is very handsome and the the panels above the fireplaces are works of art.
Thomsen holds a long-standing interest in design and architecture. Her own past is also storied; she’s one of the co-founders of Smart Design, whose Oxo “Good Grips” kitchen gadgets can be found in Target and MoMA’s Design Collection. The two images shown above are currently available on 20×200 as limited-edition prints and she’s this month’s featured Registry Artist at Nurture Art.