Artist Retreat

This past week I spent 4 days in Phoenix playing with paint and experimenting with new surfaces. The occasion was an artist retreat with fellow artists that I painted with at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the summer of 2011.

The first day we experimented with a technique that called for a first layer of acrylic paint on any gessoed surface, then an isolation layer followed a top layer of paint. Each layer needed to dry before adding the next layer. We only used red, yellow and blue paint.  I enjoyed the process. Here are 2 examples:

Ann Hart Marquis-artist retreat

Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Acrylic on paper, Lorna Filipinni-Mulliken

Acrylic on paper, Lorna Filipinni-Mulliken

On the second day we experimented with Yupo paper and light molding paste. Yupo paper is the 100% recyclable, waterproof, tree-free synthetic paper.  It is super-smooth, bright white and durable. Here are some of our Yupo pieces:

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Diane Huff

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Diane Huff

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Ann Hart Marquis-yupo

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Gail Suttelle

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Gail Suttelle

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Connie Hoogerland

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Connie Hoogerland

Light molding paste dries to an opaque, matte finish. It is designed to hold stiff peaks for highly textured surfaces and it blends easily with colors. Molding paste can also be used to create foundations for painting either to create texture over a smoother surface, or to smooth out a textured surface.

The last day we reconvened and made more interesting creations, each of us choosing what interested us. It was a wonderful get-away and we plan to do it again, perhaps in Chicago.

 

Abstract Landscapes with Paint

I have a simple program on my computer called Microsoft Paint. I started looking at it recently as an alternative way to crop images that I have photographed. This weak I opened it one evening and spontaneously decided to click on a brush and found that I could easy draw with it so off I went until I discovered colors and different tools.

Many of you may already create with apps and/or art programs, but I had not until now. After being totally drawn to my process, I found that I could easily and quickly create forms and abstract landscapes similar to what I have painted. I created both images below in about an hour. I found this program to be another way of playing and being non-judgmental about my art.

Ann Hart Marquis-Paint #1-Microsoft Windows Paint

Paint #1

I also found that I used the same method of thinking about value, intensity and color that I use with my paintings. As I played with lines and form, I discovered that I could easily tone down intense colors by layering colors or overlapping them.

Ann Hart Marquis-Paint #2-Microsoft Windows Paint

Paint #2

This program is not one that I will now incorporate into my art practice, but I think it will be fun to use from time to time to just play.

Are any of you using an app or program to play with art?

Acrylic Painting on Paper

I have been experimenting lately with different painting techniques, styles and layering effects. Since one of my goals is to play, to loosen up, I decided to use watercolor paper with my acrylic paints rather than canvas.

To me canvas means being serious. It means working until I have a finished piece no matter how long it takes because I have an investment in the outcome. That is not what I want to do at this time.

Acrylic painting on paper is a wonderful combination and has a lovely look and feel. Watercolor paper has many different weights, textures and colors. I don’t buy expensive paper because I am playing and experimenting. I generally like 300 lb. paper. This grade of paper or a higher grade prevents most buckling and sagging. It also looks good in a frame, however, it is not my intention to frame my paintings.

I first tape my paper on a piece of plywood using painter tape. I then gesso it. I like to cover paper prior to painting over it with acrylic gesso. It seals the paper so that the paint does not sink in. It floats on the paper like it would on canvas.

This week I cut a large piece of paper in half and taped  both pieces to my board so that I could use the same palette on both of them. Again, I was playing. I haven’t worked on two pieces with the same palette for a long time. Here they are with green Frog painter tape in the middle and around the sides:

Playing -acrylic and paper

Playing with acrylic and paper

Next, I separated them to see how they looked alone and added some finishing touches:

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico Winter #3-acrylic painting on paper

New Mexico Winter #3, acrylic on paper, 10 x 14 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico Winter #4-acrylic painting on paper

New Mexico Winter #4, acrylic on paper, 10 x 14 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

The Ideal Painting Setting

Those of us who create art usually have a favorite place to work like our studio, a special room or for some, en plein air. Or we have learned to adapt to strange places, such as those found while in a workshop, on a retreat or in my situation, in my kitchen.

For the last month I have been painting in my kitchen while my studio is being remodeled and enlarged! I am using almost all available counter space so it is a little disconcerting when lunch time rolls around, but I have managed to push my palette aside. I can set up my painting area in about 3 minutes, and put it all away in about 2 minutes. Not an ideal painting setting, but it is wonderful to see my studio changing every day. It should be finished by the end of the month.

Regardless of where I am, my creative juices are continuing to flow as I work on my New Mexico series. Here is the latest painting.

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico Winter #2-abstract

New Mexico Winter #2, acrylic on paper, 10 x 14 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Comments/critiques are always appreciated.

Finding My Own Personal Style

I seem to be examining my psyche in paint these days. I was feeling somewhat unsettled that I keep trying new ways of expressing myself, but continuing to feel that I had not quite found my way. I was feeling that I had not yet found my personal voice.

I was pleased to find an article in the magazine LensWork* that put my mind at ease. It was written by a very discerning photographer, Guy Tal, and it applies to all of us pursing a creative endeavor. The name of the article is “Forget Vision.” These are some of his words:

“Forget vision, forget personal style, forget unique voice; these are not goals, they are by-products. The most meaningful art you can make is not about a particular look, subject matter, or visual effect, but about the way you respond to and interpret the world.”

He goes on to say, “Searching for a vision is futile; it is a moving target. The only way to find one’s vision once and for all, is to stop evolving as a person and as an artist.”

Ann Hart Marquis-Winter in New Mexico-personal style

New Mexico, Winter #2, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 20-inches, ©2015. Ann Hart Marquis

I feel that my work is changing and evolving almost every time I pick up a paintbrush. I am relieved to hear someone say that finding one’s personal style is a somewhat frustrating goal. That is what I have been feeling for a while. Now I know why.

I would love your comments.

*Lenswork, Jan-Feb, 2015, No. 116.

New Mexico Abstract Landscape-Winter

As some of you know, in my current series I am painting the colors, shapes and light of New Mexico. In a sense, I am not interested in the actual landscape that I see. I am still in the process of distilling the setting into its purest essence.

This is my first New Mexico-Winter painting. Although all of the leaves have fallen off the deciduous trees, there is still a touch of green and orange to be seen. The skies are frequently covered in grey clouds that are almost white.

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico Winter #1-abstract

New Mexico Winter #1, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

This is a much more abstract landscape than I have painted before. I sometimes wrestle with the concept of abstract art. One idea is that it neither represents anything nor is representational. My paintings do not represent anything except images that I conceive. They do not come from an actual scene or a particular place, rather they are a mélange of impressions of how I perceive New Mexico.

It snowed here recently—a rare occurrence in Albuquerque. I am planning now to do a white abstract landscape. Let’s see what I come up with.

Feedback on this painting is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Shadow & Light Magazine

Although I try to paint almost every day, occasionally I like to explore different ways to think about and delve into varied art-related projects. The class I teach for beginning painters is one example. Another example is plunging into being the art director of a new fine art photography online magazine called Shadow & Light Magazine. Here is the official description of the publication:

Shadow & Light Magazine  Signature Image

Shadow & Light Magazine Signature Image

Shadow & Light Magazine is designed for photographers across all levels of photography offering valuable information about a range of photographic subjects including portfolios, and individual images, along with interviews and in-depth essays. It is also designed for the photographer who desires to present their work to a large audience, including curators, collectors, gallerists, and photography peers and professionals. It is also designed to be appealing to all art lovers.

The magazine was launched in September, 2014. It is flourishing and I am proud to be a part of its success.

Shadow & Light Magazine Cover-photography

Shadow & Light Magazine Cover

As art director, my main responsibilities are selecting the cover image, helping the editor with the selection of Showcase Portfolio and Single Image Showcase submissions. I also assist with editing.

Because the publisher and editor of the magazine is my partner Tim Anderson, I have learned to appreciate photography as a fine art that can be just as expressive as painting. I have had the pleasure of viewing many wonderful images over the last ten years. An entire world of creativity has opened up for me, influencing my art in ways that are still a mystery to me.

A History of My Art

Sometimes when I am rummaging around in my studio I come across a painting that I haven’t seen or thought about for a while. When I look at the date of the painting I am sometimes surprised.

One such painting is a small work that I did in 2008. I do remember that I painted it in the winter and that it was a New Mexico scene. It is cold here now and at this time I am working on a New Mexico abstract series depicting how I see the winter landscape. It is interesting to me that I painted one lone winter scene about seven years ago and now I am doing a series. I like this little painting.

Ann Hart Marquis-Road Home,  January, New Mexico

Road Home, January, acrylic on canvas, 11×14 inches, 2008. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Except for what I have sold, I have kept all of my work since I started painting 15 years ago, including my drawings. They remind me of where I started, how I tried new things, how I endeavored to be a better draftsperson and how I experimented with color. They provide a history of my art. Above all, my older work reminds me that I have produced many images in a variety of styles trying to figure out how to create an interesting painting.

What I didn’t do when I first started painting was to paint in series. Art schools and marketing concepts suggest that to be successful, an artist “should” work in a series. That is because supposedly the best way for artists to get recognized and develop an identity, is to cultivate a distinct style. It is said that here is no better way to do that than to begin creating art in multiples.

I have done several successful series, but I still like to paint something totally quirky and enchanting to me that goes with nothing except the fact that I consider it a good painting. Here is one of my favorite paintings that just stands on its own. It is part of a collection in Phoenix.

Ann Hart Marquis-Red Bridge-acrylic

Red Bridge, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2008. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Winter Solstice

Today is the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice. It will be the longest night of the year, meaning that despite the cold winter, the days get progressively longer after the Winter Solstice until the Summer Solstice in 2015.

Here in New Mexico the skies are unusually grey and it is unusually cold and dry. As in most parts of the country, most of the trees have no leaves. However, for the southwest, winter means brown grass and shrubs. There is little green to break up the endless shapes of sienna and umber.

Ann Hart Marquis-Mew Mexico Late Fall #3-winter solstice

New Mexico Late Fall #3, acrylic on paper, 12×20 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

For the next few months I plan to continue my New Mexico series to see the colors of the landscape as it becomes colder. I already see that the clouds are a blue-grey, without the subtle pinks and oranges of fall.

And my last fall painting:

Ann Hart Marquis-New  Mexico Late Fall #4-winter solstice

New Mexico Late Fall #4, acrylic on canvas, 9×12 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I spent the Winter Solstice dancing, my second favorite creative activity. Did you celebrate the solstice?

Abstraction of the Landscape

In my current series I am painting the colors, shapes and light of New Mexico. In a sense, I am not interested in actual landscape that I see. I am interested in distilling the vistas into their purest essence. When I paint, I strive for an abstraction of the landscape.

As Georgia O’Keeffe put it, “Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in an abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is the lines and colors put together so they say something. For me that is the very essence of painting. The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify in paint.”

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico II- abstraction

New Mexico-Late Fall #2, acrylic on canvas, 18×24 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

When I look around me I see the unadorned brown shapes of the extinct volcanoes in the western horizon. I see the greys and blacks that the lava flow left behind. There are also the restrained reds and oranges of the adobe houses that appear all over New Mexico. There are the ochers and siennas of the high desert plateau. This time of year the landscape is stark and muted.

I see the colors of the landscape bathed in intense light which I somrtimes find harsh. But it is New Mexico and it still is the land of enchantment.

My studio and online Holiday sale is still happening now through December 31, 2014. The above painting is available.