Topanga Artist Captures Mountain Spirit

“Morning Glow” is painted using egg tempera, an ancient painting medium Gaby Geuther learned to use at a workshop at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Photo by Lisa M. Ezell

Topanga artist Gaby Geuther uses watercolor and egg tempera to capture the earth colors and dramatic forms of the Santa Monica Mountains. Her current show, “The Hills are Alive,” at the Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch, is an appropriate setting for her nature-themed paintings. She describes her work as ”an intimate dialogue with the nature that surrounds us.”

Geuther’s delicate, jewel-colored egg tempera paintings attract special attention. “I took a workshop at the Getty Museum,” she told the Messenger Mountain News, explaining that she was captivated by the ancient technique and has continued to explore the medium.

Egg tempera is a labor-intensive medium that dates back to antiquity—it was a precursor of oil paints in Europe and has been used for at least two thousand years.  

Geuther mixes her paints in the same way a medieval or Roman artist would have done. She combines powdered pigments with egg yolk and distilled water to make a paint with a texture similar to oils. The paint is mixed in small quantities and must be used quickly. Once it is dry, Geuther seals each painting with hand-rubbed beeswax. The end result is a luminous painting with a soft matte finish.

The paintings in egg tempera are accompanied by a selection of Geuther’s watercolor paintings.

Geuther’s choice of mediums compliments her subjects: rugged rock formations, fields of summer grass, earth-hued trails and dusty chaparral. Most of the works are small, inviting the viewer to take a closer look.

Geuther’s paintings clearly resonate with the observer. “Thus far, Gaby’s show has been extremely successful,” said Sophia Wong, the events manager for the visitor center. Eight of the artist’s works sold before the official opening and artist’s reception.

“Gaby will soon be adding several additional pieces to fill in the empty display spots,” Wong said.

Topanga artist Gaby Geuther’s watercolor and egg tempera paintings are currently on display at the Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

“The Hills Are Alive” show runs through Sunday, April 28 at the visitor center, 26876 Mulholland Highway, on the corner of Las Virgenes Road, in Calabasas. Learn more about Geuther’s show and upcoming events at the visitor center at https://www.wnpa.org.

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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