Heart of Louisiana: 105-year-old Metairie artist June Lampe and her old master painter techniques

Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 9:16 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - She is an award-winning artist who mastered a style of painting that dates back more than 2,000 years to ancient Greece. And Metairie artist June Lampe has been around a pretty long time herself.

Birthday greetings decorate the living room of June Lampe’s Metairie home. They don’t number cards high enough, but you can creatively put two together.

Lampe just celebrated her 105th birthday. And she has spent her life studying art, painting her own masterpieces and teaching. She recalls that it was an uncle who first taught her how to paint. She remembers a room in his house, painted with roses from ceiling to floor.

“And I was so impressed,” Lampe said.

She loved the techniques of the old master painters.

“You use a special glaze for every picture you paint. It makes your paintings so real. And that that’s what started me to teaching it,” Lampe said.

This is the scene that retired physician, Don Guzzetta wanted to paint when he met June Lampe in the hospital after surgery and signed up for art classes.

“And I fell in love with these stone walls,” Guzzetta said. “But her requirement was, you had to do one of the great master paintings before you could go any further.”

There is another painting technique that dates back to ancient Greece called encaustic painting. Lampe read about it in books and taught herself over a period of a dozen years. You melt wax resins and oils and shape the hot mixture as it flows over a wooden background.

“You pour it very hot. Like when I started that, I poured the dresser. I just poured some white so I can work for on dresses,” Lampe said.

Debbie Herrera, watched her mother create art with brush and blowtorch

“There’s a lot of experimentation to get it to flow, right. And to do what she wanted,” Herrera said.

However, she never let her daughter try the painting style as it was too dangerous.

“She actually had been sent to the hospital a couple of times from the fumes. Being the artist, she wouldn’t wear a mask or anything that she was supposed to,” Herrera said.

But you really can’t say that June Lampe damaged her health. As she reaches the age of 105, surrounded by the unique and beautiful art that she created over a very long lifetime.

June Lampe’s encaustic paintings have received first place and best in show awards at international competitions.

Visit her website here.

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