The Heroine’s Journey of Laura Thompson

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Everything! Life as an artist, particularly in Florence, is wonderful and in addition to the freedom to create my own work I have the also the benefit of teaching wonderful students from all around the world at the academy that my husband and I own in the historic centre so we are inspired daily.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Exactly what we have now. A great marriage of 32 years (we have our son who is married to a wonderful girl and we just had our first grandchild!), the opportunity to do what I love every day, and the privilege of living in Florence, Italy,

What is my greatest fear?

I suppose it would be the health of my family. We are very lucky to all be in good health but that is the one area where we won’t always have control of the outcome and so that is always a concern because as long as our health is good I feel all things are possible.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

My inability to keep my studio clean and organized! When I have time I always choose to paint not clean and it shows in the chaos of my private studio.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?

All of the guest instructors we host. We are so fortunate to have the best contemporary artists in the world today coming to teach at our studio and they are all so inspiring in their enthusiasm for their work and their generosity in teaching the students all that they know.

What is my greatest extravagance?

Time for myself to paint. I know that sounds strange for an artist to say but with our school I spend much of my time with my students (which I love!) and so when I have a break to paint quietly in my own studio it often feels like such a luxury.

On what occasion would I lie?

I hope I would never feel the need to lie but I do believe that unwelcome news can be delivered in a positive and constructive way if we take the time to consider how the recipient will feel. Aside from that I suppose if I really felt there was no possibility of the information being helpful or necessary I might ‘lie by omission’ and by that I mean simply not broaching the subject at all.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

Cleaning my brushes and accounting but luckily my husband often washes my brushes and I studied accounting (CGA) so it is not really that much of a chore.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

Now and tomorrow… it just keeps getting more interesting and more challenging and that is what is wonderful about the arts…you never feel you have finished learning and the excitement to try new things never ends.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

Patience to not overwork my paintings. I often love the ‘starts’ but then sacrifice this towards the end by wanting to go back and ‘correct’ and while I promise myself each time to be patient and conscious of this I sometimes have difficulty leaving it alone. I admire the ‘alla prima’ artists we know whose works are so alive in their brushwork quality. A single, well placed brushstroke that creates a strong feeling of spontaneity is so often more effective than adding more detail and correcting however the temptation to go back in and ‘fuss’ is compelling to me and I wish that I could let it go.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

I would actually have to say our school. We had never intended to teach but when were asked by students many years ago we finally agreed to teach one of them and we discovered how rewarding it was. We now really enjoy owning an art school and it is great also for our own work as teaching and meeting other artists provides such inspiration.

Where would I most like to live?

Florence is home now for us and we love it.

What is my most treasured possession?

Well that is a difficult one but while I hate shopping and have absolutely no fashion sense I do really love the jewellery I wear every day and never take off because each piece has a significant meaning. My wedding ring was only $99 but then we added a gold band on our first anniversary (another $98) when my son was born another band. On my other hand I wear two rings which belonged to my mother (one was her wedding band which I inherited) and my bracelet is from my Dad and was bought on the Ponte Vecchio here in Florence, and my watch is from my ‘other’ dad (my mother’s second husband who raised me) and the pendant around my neck was made by one of our models

What is my most marked characteristic?

Persistance. Great for business but this trait likely drives my husband crazy haha!

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

Our street. We love everything about our street in the historic centre. We know all of our neighbors and the sound of the horse and carriages and church bells out our window are comforting reminders of this beautiful city and how lucky we are to live here.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?

At home! We are often so tired at the end of the day that for us it is wonderful to go home and just rummage through our fresh market finds with a little wine.

Who are my favorite writers?

I used to read obsessively and Frank used to joke that we would go broke from all of the books I bought but these days I find I have very little time to read so I’d have to think about this some more.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

I listen to such a variety of music that it would be difficult to choose but ironically as I answer this question Time of Your Life by Greenday is playing and I am remembering that I first heard this song on the radio in the car as we were leaving my Great Aunt Dorothy’s funeral (she was 103 and such an inspiration) and I actually think this might be a good choice.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Well I suppose it may sound a bit silly but perhaps Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Her empathy and willingness to help those around her discover themselves and overcome their fears speaks to me as a teacher and her determination and perseverance to overcome obstacles is something I can relate to as an artist. Although I must say that as artists we might all relate better to the wizard creating grand illusions but hiding behind a green curtain hoping no one dares look behind it!

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My husband Frank who has been so brave with all of my crazy ideas like moving to Italy or going back to art school after being professional artists for over 20 years already when we made the decision to return for school in our 40’’s and 50’s! He has been a tremendous support and is always up for an adventure and he has been a great father to our son. Our guest artists also are heroes/heroines in a similar way… always enthusiastic. And also our students and their willingness to be courageous in their desire to always be learning.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?

I admit that I often now just watch movies for lighting effects and my thoughts lean more to the imagery than to the plot so I’m afraid I can’t think of one offhand as I watch very few.

What role plays art in my life and work?

Every role! It is all that I do everyday whether it is teaching, learning or creating it is a 7 day a week adventure.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Definitely my husband. Frank is wonderfully supportive and now my son (he is a paramedic) and daughter-in-law ( a floral designer) both also work with us part-time in our business so we are very lucky.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019?

Ah… good question… there are so many great artists that we have admired for years and so we hope to have them all here at the studio one day. We have been very fortunate to have already met and hosted most of them and look forward to their return each year.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019?

10 years ago I had a long list of artists that inspired me with their work and that I had only seen in magazines but our school has made meeting them all (and becoming great friends with them) possible.

What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to work on?

I am currently working on a series of fun paintings inspired by the music I listen to and have three in progress now with my great model Euxheni Voci. Each is a theme based on a song and a colour. …Rose Coloured Glasses by Blue Rodeo, Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dyplan, Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac are on my easels now and I hope to do more soon.

Where can you see me or my work?

While I used to be represented by galleries in Canada, USA, and Italy I find the market has changed greatly over just the last 10 years as many galleries have now closed and most of my collectors now know me personally or have seen my work online. I do still have a wonderful agent in Italy with a gallery/agent on our street, Elena Bellini. Collectors now though, more than ever, want to ‘know’ the artist and their story and the desire to simply fill wall space or match the couch is less important than feeling a personal connection to a piece and I think this is a very positive change. I had one instance where my agent explained that an older man (almost 90 I think) had bought my painting of a young girll/model from Amsterdam looking out our studio window over the rooftops of Florence and she explained that he had tears in his eyes as he explained it had reminded him of his wife when they were young and first married. So you can never predict how your work will represent something very personal to a collector. I also do many portrait commissions and these are extremely satisfying to know that the work will have meaning for the family for generations to come. I post much of my work on our FB page and also on our website at

https://www.facebook.com/florencestudio/ or through our website at www.theflorencestudio.com

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

That as long as we are learning and excited about our work life can be so rewarding and the fun never ends because there is always more we want to accomplish. Art is wonderful that way because there is no ‘end’ and we see that in the demographic of our students… many are ‘older’ and now finally taking time for themselves to do something they have found they have a passion for now that they are no longer tied to raising children, having a career, they are doing something just for them and it is beautiful to see. John Lennon‘s “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” contain the famous Lennon quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  And so to see these students returning to/discovering something they love and can do for the rest of their lives that is just for their own pleasure and development is magical.

How can you contact me?

theflorencestudio@gmail.com or through FB at https://www.facebook.com/florencestudio/ or through our website at www.theflorencestudio.com

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