Painting Italy Retreat

In the last part of February, I signed up for a 10-day painting workshop in the middle of Italy near southern Umbria. I was very excited about going to a part of Italy that I have never visited and that was rural and quiet. Previously I have only been to the cities of Florence and Venice, neither rural nor quiet. Last week I found out that the workshop was cancelled due to lack of interested painters. I was disappointed. My personality, however, enjoys a bit of adventure and mystery, so I decided to go by myself and have my own painting Italy retreat. Who knows what I will see and experience and who I will meet.

Landscape of Umbria Italy Painting Italy Retreat

Landscape of Southern Umbria

I love to be in a part of the world that is not home. Travel pushes my boundaries, although most of the time I love going to France. Sometimes when I travel I feel that I am invisible and totally anonymous. I like that feeling. It gives me a chance to be an observer. When I am away from home no one expects me to check messages, weed the yard or correct homework. Language sometimes becomes simply a musical background. Travel releases my spontaneity. There is a visceral aspect also. I am free to do whatever I want and collect memories to savor and share.

CASPERIA Painting Italy Retreat

Casperia, Italy

So at the beginning of July I will be taking off for Casperia, Italy. It is about 90 minutes north of Rome, in the territory of Sabina where the valley of Saint Francis of Assisi lies. Casperia is a vehicle-free village of narrow winding streets. It is not a tourist area,  therefore the town, villages and mountains are supposedly unspoilt by heavy traffic and too many people.

I will be staying at  La Torretta, a lovely Bed & Breakfast in the heart of Casperia. Here are a couple of views of my home for 10 days.

La Toretta 2 Painting Italy Retreat

La Torretta Living Room

La torretta View from bedroom Painting Italy Retreat

La Torretta-View from bedroom





Those of you who know me know that I cannot go to Europe for only 10 days, so when I leave Casperia I will fly across the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean to southwestern France to my familiar village of Sorèze for seven weeks to paint and walk in lovely green hills—a much different experience than being in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Anyone interested in going to Italy?

Magenta with Orange—My New Favorite Colors

Over the years, my painting style and palette have evolved and grown. Fortunately, my first painting teacher considered herself a fauvist, encouraging all of her students to paint in vivid colors with lots of paint. She also encouraged us to paint with abandon and lack of fear and with little intellectualizing about the subject. That wild fauvist attitude didn’t really stick with me, but it did give me an appreciation and a love for color.

My first paintings on my own were earth-toned landscapes and trees. I painted many trees. I frequently used earth colors like burnt sienna, ochre, and umber, paired with nature-appropriate greens.

AnnHartMarquis Summer Sunset 468x600 Magenta with Orange—My New Favorite Colors

Summer Sunset. Acrylic on canvas, 11×14-inches. ©2006, Ann Hart Marquis

Here is Summer Sunset, one of my earlier paintings.




Recently, I gave myself the task of putting all of those earth colors away and got out the magenta, orange and yellow for a new series. I didn’t want to use any blacks like Manét or Matisse. I wanted my paintings to sing with color. I now realize that I have gone almost full circle, back to my fauvist beginnings.

Here is one of the first in the series. I have painted six and I must say that I am enjoying magenta, especially when paired with orange.

AnnHartMarquis AnotherDay inParadise 497x600 Magenta with Orange—My New Favorite Colors

Another Day in Paradise. Acrylic on canvas, 20×24-inches. ©2014, Ann Hart Marquis

Have you dramatically changed your palette or the colors that you find yourself attracted to?

A Sense of Place

Guest post by Rebecca Dierickx

For better or worse my environment or, in other words, my “sense of place” influences my art. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say my childhood location has become the “standard” to which I compare other areas I have visited or lived. This is shown in an excerpt from my artist statement: “I am intrigued by memories and emotions and these have become recurring themes in my art.”

Iowa Memories oil 8x10 A Sense of Place

Iowa Memories, oil, 8×10. ©Rebecca Dierickx

The influence from my childhood can be seen in my oil painting “Iowa Memories.”  For the first twelve years of my life I was raised on a farm in Eastern Iowa. Rolling hills, creeks, and timbers surrounded me. My husband was raised on the Western Slope of Colorado surrounded by breathtaking mountains. Even though he might appreciate what I call sublime, he needs to be near mountains to feel his sense of place.

I feel fortunate to have lived in a variety of places throughout the United States. I’ve viewed diverse scenery and met many people—some of whom became life long friends. Part of my “sense of place” isn’t just the countryside, but the feelings and emotions I was experiencing during those times in my life.

Still Standing at 442 linocut 30x22 A Sense of Place

Still Standing at 442, 30×32 inches. ©Rebecca Dierickx

An example of the location and emotions being displayed in my artwork is a linoleum cut print, “Still Standing at 442.” I was living in Oklahoma where tornadoes are frequent and my house number was 442. My emotional “sense of place“ at the time is also displayed. My husband was deployed to Iraq. I was raising our two children by myself while completing my BFA. Talk about stress! But I managed to survive and be stronger for it.


I love storms—not the destruction, but the feeling in the air and colors in the sky. That’s probably influenced from residing in both Iowa and Oklahoma for many years of my life—both notorious for being in Tornado Alley. The painting “Oklahoma Afternoon” is based on a memory of an afternoon sky I viewed from my backyard.

Oklahoma Afternoon oil 10x20 600x294 A Sense of Place

Oklahoma Afternoon, oil,10×20. © Rebecca Dierickx

I now live in a gorgeous part of Colorado where I’m creating a new sense of place. Nevertheless the trees, rolling hills, and stormy skies are still my favorite vistas.

Contemplative Day oil 9x12 A Sense of Place

Contemplative Day, oil,  9×12. ©Rebecca Dierickx

“Contemplative Day” is a view near my home in Colorado; but the influences from my youth show through. Understanding my ‘sense of place’ helps me know the influences on my art.


Here are a few more examples of my work:

My summer at Rock Creek pastel 9x9 A Sense of Place

My Summer at Rock Creek, pastel, 9×9. © Rebecca Dierickx

Vivid Autumn oil 12x12 A Sense of Place

Vivid Autumn, oil, 12×12. © Rebecca Dierickx

The Two Year Pear Painting Adventure

This week I will be begin teaching a class at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Department of Continuing Education. It will be a beginning painting class and as a matter of fact, it is titled Painting for the Complete Beginner. Here is an excerpt from the class description:

This painting class is designed for people who have no previous painting experience. The most important objective of the class is to be in a comfortable, stress-free environment with other beginning painters.

I have been asked by several people why I want to teach a class at this time. I actually love to teach and was an instructor at UNM for several years. I like the idea of presenting new ideas and letting people experiment with their creativity. After I decided that I wanted to teach (again), my first thought was that I wanted to teach painting to real beginners. In the course of my personal art education I have been in many classes that were designed for one level of painter, yet accepted most people to sign up for the class. Invariably, the beginning painters were intimidated by the more advanced painters and the advanced students were frequently bored with the beginners.

In thinking about what I wanted to teach I could not help but think of my beginning paintings and what a challenge it was to get my ideas on canvas with reasonably attractive colors. I took few photos of my first paintings, nor did I think to date them. I did find a pear painting that went through several renditions before I decided to leave it and move on.

Here is the first version. As you can see it was a painting with little perspective and colors that did not work. I think that is what my teacher told me.

Prars First Try 600x472 The Two Year Pear Painting Adventure

Pears, First Try


PearsSecond Try 600x505 The Two Year Pear Painting Adventure

Pears, Second Try (fixed)





The “fixed” version had a total change of shadow that helped, but still was not interesting. I did more to the wall by adding more color variation that helped. I think I stopped here for a while, maybe a year, and went back to it a third time to try to save it:








Here is the last attempt. It is a good reminder of where I was and how many paintings I have done since then. It was a learning process all the way. I never showed this painting, but it hangs in my studio always as a reminder.


Ann Hart Marquis French Pears pears 600x477 The Two Year Pear Painting Adventure

French Pears, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 Inches, © Ann Hart Marquis

I am excited about my class and I hope that I convey the pleasure of problem solving.

My Brain and Precision

I love to paint nature: landscapes, trees, bodies of water. Sometimes the places that I paint have depicted were I was standing and what I was looking at in that moment. Perhaps I was standing in a beautiful field in France or looking up at red rocks in New Mexico. Frequently, however, I like to imagine a scene and I just start painting and see where it takes me. I like the idea of not knowing exactly what my final painting will look like. Like this one for example:

AnnHartMarquis Hill House My Brain and Precision

Hill House, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

Occasionally, however, my brain seems to be drawn to painting a particular scene or object that is a drawing challenge for me, requiring that I draw and paint with precision that includes very accurate perspective, dimensions, and detail, for example the foreshortening of arms on a chair. The first time I had this desire to paint something that would be a challenge for me was in France when one night there was no scenery to inspire me. I felt like painting, but I had run out of ideas.

I began wandering around the very old house that I was staying in and looking  at some old French furniture. I was drawn to a particular chair that seemed like it may be interesting to pursue.

Indeed it was. It was somewhat early in my art pursuit, and I had never thought myself capable of drawing anything realistically. It took about four days of getting the legs to match and to get the arms the correct length, but my brain loved the thought process and the problem solving. Pictured is my first chair. Then I had to do another. After the second chair I was finished with my brain exercises for the time being.


AnnHartMarquis Green Chair My Brain and Precision

Green Chair, acrylic on canvas,16×20-inches, ©2008, Ann Hart Marquis (first chair)

AnnhartMarquis RedChair My Brain and Precision

Red Chair, acrylic on canvas, 16×20-inches, ©2008, Ann Hart Marquis

My next venture into more precise detail came a few years later with this kitchen scene.

AnnHartMarquis French Kitchen My Brain and Precision

French Kitchen, acrylic on canvas, 16×20-inches, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

I have been painting quite loosely for a while now, but I am feeling that the old pull to be more exact may be coming soon. How about you? Are you drawn to the looseness of an image or more toward realistic work?

I’m on the Cover of Stone Voices!

Last summer two artist friends from Chicago suggested that I submit a portfolio of some of my paintings in a call for submissions that the art and literary journal Stone Voices was requesting. At that time, I was not familiar with this journal, but I looked at the it and the guidelines and decided to go for it. The request was for images that explored the concept of The River.

I had just completed several paintings that explored moving water or objects floating in water, so I already had the images that I hoped were suitable. After the winners had been selected, I was sent an email that said, “If your name is not listed below, your images were not chosen.” I carefully scrolled down the list of names and much to my surprise there was my name. Of course I was very pleased. I scrolled down further and again to my amazement one of my paintings had been chosen Best in Show. This is it:

Adrift a Im on the Cover of Stone Voices!

Adrift, acrylic on canvas, 24×24 inches.
©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

Because I was included on the winners’ list, I had the opportunity to send in a complete series of paintings, my artist statement and my bio for the possibility of being included in upcoming issues of Stone Voices. I submitted my series. Next I was told that my portfolio was accepted and would be in the Spring Issue. I received a preview document online of the magazine and was again taken aback to see that one of my paintings was on the cover. When I received my copies of Stone Voices and was very happy to see a ten-page spread of my work.


AnnHartMarquis Stone Voices cover Im on the Cover of Stone Voices!

Ann Hart Marquis-Stone Voices, Cover Image

I suppose the moral of this short story is to say there is nothing like good friends, and if you don’t take some risks, you will never happily find yourself in an unexpected place. One of my favorite personal sayings is, “All they can say is no.”

Have you ever taken a chance that led to somewhere that you didn’t expect to go?


Horse Crazy

As a child and adolescent, there were three major influences in my life and eventually art. I have written posts on two of them: my Portuguese father and the beautiful place where I grew up in northern California. It now seems time for me to write about the third, which was my horse.

The Irish Influence

From the time that I can remember, I was in love with the horse. I have no idea why. I was rarely around horses, but every time that I saw one, I became excited and mesmerized by whatever lovely creature I was seeing. It could have been a 25 year-old antiquarian, or a swayback mare, I didn’t care. Loving horses seemed to be a part of my psyche. Irish folklore says that that if you are Irish, loving the horse is in your blood. I am half Irish, so maybe some of the mystery lies there.


cheval blanc Horse Crazy

Cheval Blanc, 1881, Toulouse Lautrec.

Freedom to Roam

I would not be the person I am today had I not had a dream fulfilled by my father. After almost eleven years of begging for a horse, the Christmas when I was eleven, my father told me to go look out the window at the back pasture. There a dark bay horse was standing. I was overwhelmed. I cried. That was one of the few times in my life when a dream came true. My life totally changed from that point on. First, I had to teach myself to ride. After that small task was accomplished, with only a run-away incident and one encounter with a barbed wire fence, I could then enjoy complete freedom. I rode off into the hills in the morning with my horse and faithful dog and came home for dinner. I learned independence, self-confidence and a sense of adventure.

AnnHart Marquis Meand my horse duke 600x499 Horse Crazy

Me, age 13 and my horse Duke on a gloomy day.


You may be asking how my horse (whose name was chosen by my father) Duke affected my pursuit of being an artist. Most artists are independent, they frequently spend time alone, they need to be self-confident if they are going to believe in their art and it helps to feel like art is an adventure.


40110727geuricaultchevalblanc3 Horse Crazy

Tête de cheval blanc (Head of the White Horse), 1815, Théodore Gericault.

The Painted  Horse

The next question that comes to mind may be why I don’t paint horses. Needless to say, I am very sentimental about them. The thought of painting a horse touches something deep inside that I am not ready to explore. Someday, I will do a series. In addition to that, I am awe-struck by the many magnificent paintings of horses over the centuries. Here are two more that I love.


Have you ever had a childhood dream come true?


Blue Horse I Franz Marc Horse Crazy

Blue Horse I , 1911, Franz Marc.

Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

Guest Post by Paula Scott

As an artist, I often question who I am as an artist. Am I a photographer? A printmaker? An encaustic artist? A painter or mixed-media artist? You see, I work in all of these mediums and have worked in photography the longest; hence it is my most prolific area. There are no clear lines or boundaries for me when it comes to working in these different mediums. How does one begin to combine them and perhaps more intriguing, WHY would you combine them?

Curating and presentation of one’s work makes all the difference in the world; the choice made in the presentation can totally transform the piece. In the realm of photography, many have gone past the tradition of the glass and frame and now have so many ways in which to present their work. Even the kind of paper the image is printed on makes a huge difference. Photo encaustic offers a great alternative to the traditional presentation of photographic works.

Encaustic, which is bee’s wax in most cases, combined with a bit of dammar resin (the combination is referred to as encaustic medium), brings a very different quality to a photographic image. The image becomes more luminous and seems to glow from within, giving it a different kind of depth. The kind of paper you use to print your photograph on in combination with the wax, also dictates the outcome. The best part about this marriage of photo and wax is that that the image is not restrained under glass. It brings another level of intimacy to the viewer.

In this first example, “Bandelier,” the image was printed as a laserjet image, adhered via wax, to the board that was already ‘prepped’ with encaustic medium. Oil pigment was also used in many thin layers, which is another advantage to working in wax as it allows you to build up translucent layers adding even more depth to the final image. Think of it as glazing your photographic image. scott 1 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

In  “Raven Boy II,” the image was printed on a thin, handmade Japanese paper called chiri. Chiri means “leftovers” and refers to the small pieces of dark mulberry paper bark that are left in, or added to the paper vat. The image was mounted to a burned birch panel, a few thin layers of encaustic medium were applied and additional oil pigment was selectively added in areas to balance out the tone.

scott 2 600x444 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic








You can see in the image what it looked like before adjustments were made and before it was printed.

scott 3 600x402 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

In the next image of the contemplative Buddha, there are a few more steps involved. scott 4 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

The background of the image is a photograph of a leafless shrub shadow printed onto scrapbook paper (which had the image of the ‘map’ on it). It was then adhered to a small cradleboard. A few layers of encaustic medium were then applied and the next image, which is an inkjet print of Buddha’s profile, was trimmed and adhered with encaustic medium. The wax medium also makes the paper translucent, allowing the visual information underneath it to show through. It is an artistic choice.

scott 5 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

scott 6 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic







In the final example, “Blue Line,” it is a macro shot of a surface in the Albuquerque Railyard (a worn surface of peeling paint with the edge of some spray art). The image was taken so that there is no reference to what the image is, which is an abstraction of what many would see as mundane. The example on the left is the image ‘as is.’ The one on the right is printed on watercolor paper, adhered to a small cradleboard and a few layers of encaustic medium is applied to the surface.

scott 8 Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic

scott 7 sized Breaking Loose With Photo Encaustic







My work is often about spontaneity, experimentation, exploration of color and textures; offering the viewer a different perspective of the ordinary. Being an artist who works in a handful of mediums, I love to capture what would be considered mundane, and with these moments, celebrate them. It is in these details of life that often go unnoticed that I see as the essence of living in the moment. Combining mediums such as encaustic and photography offers me more ways in which to express this.

Abstract Photography

Guest post by Tim Anderson
For more than 30+ years I had been photographing landscapes, portraits, nudes, etc. More recently, I have shot several times at the historic Albuquerque Railyards (Santa Fe Railway Shops, below) using models and conducting workshops. When the opportunity again presented itself for me to shoot at the Railyards, I didn’t waste any time accepting, even though my studio partner and I would be hosting a workshop focused on the building itself. Railyards 0712 9992  Abstract Photography
Once we arrived at the site we had a meeting and told everyone to split up and get back together an hour later. Being one of the workshop leaders I began to walk around the main buildings supervising as well as seeing what I could find of interest to shoot.

Railyards 0712 0033  Abstract PhotographyMy interest was peaked when I first saw the red door (left). I was watching a couple of students photographing on the other side of the door and as I was going over to meet with them I looked again at the door. But this time the peeling paint caught my attention. From that moment on I became more of a student than a teacher. I looked for the abstract in everything I saw. No detail was too small, no peel of the paint too insignificant. I was hooked.

I began to look at the details instead of the whole picture. The main building, the machine shop, is more than 165,000 square feet of empty space, with a multitude of nooks and crannies just waiting for me to discover them. And that is just one building on this 27-acre site! After more than four hours of shooting I came away with almost 200 photographs, mostly abstracts, some of which are pictured (below) in this post.

Triptych AHM 2  Abstract Photography

As a result of that shoot I now look at things much differently, whether it be the expanse of a mountainside or the landscape of a nude.

You can see more of Tim’s Railyards abstract work, here.

Adventures with a Limited Palette

For those of you who know me, you know that I usually spend a chunk of time almost every summer in southwestern France. It inspires me and I get many paintings done while I am there. For various boring reasons I was not able to go in 2012, so I am getting a little antsy about going back this year, so antsy in fact, that I just booked my airline ticket. They don’t get any cheaper after January.

Ideas of what I will paint and what supplies I will take have already started to flash into my consciousness. In 2012 I took twelve 14” x 14”, pre-cut canvases (that is the only way I can fit them in my suitcase). I also gave myself the challenge of taking only three colors of paint plus black and white, to see if I could create interesting paintings. The colors that I chose were vermillion, cerulean blue and raw sienna. Someone had given me a case of raw sienna. I did not try the colors before I left.

Well, as some of you may have guessed, this unique combination did not work. Raw sienna and cerulean blue make for an unhappy green. I needed yellow and as soon as I got it I was happy. Cadmium yellow, vermillion and raw sienna did make an interesting orange. Here are a few examples of my four-color, limited palette:

AnnHartMarquis tri image 600x226 Adventures with a Limited Palette

I like the idea of painting with a limited palette. There are several advantages.
• Color harmony is easier to achieve.
• Learning to mix a few colors is to achieve the desired color, value and intensity.
• You don’t have to carry numerous tubes of paint when you travel or paint outside.

Recently, I came across an article written by Adriana Guidi. She describes the palette that was made famous by Swedish painter Anders Leonard Zorn (1860-1920), which is often known as the Zorn Palette. “Zorn’s preferred palette was of four earthy colors: yellow ochre, vermilion, ivory black and white.” Here is her version of the palette:

Guidi zornlimited4colorwithwhite 1 Adventures with a Limited Palette

Adriana Guidi, Zorn limited 4 color palette

The top row is simply Yellow Ochre mixed with varying amounts of Titanium White, while the middle row has a little Mars Black mixed in as well. The bottom row is a blend of Cadmium Red Light and Yellow Ochre, again with varying levels of white.

I am attracted to Zorn’s palette, and am thinking about using it in France, although I may have a little trouble with having no blue.

Do you paint with a limited palette or are you attracted to limited colors?