Imaginary Landscape

During the entire month of October I have been consumed with painting almost every day. Most of this enthusiasm is due to how much I am loving my Irish online class on abstract landscapes. I can’t wait for the next assignment and find that I am already feeling a little sad that the experience will conclude at the end of October. I like looking at how the instructor paints the Irish landscape full of green and blue. I can then create an imaginary landscape or interpret something from here in New Mexico or wherever my imagination will take me.

When the class first began, I felt that I was neglecting the marketing side of my art. As a working, selling painter there are marketing strategies that I am supposed to be doing a least once a week. For example, I am always supposed to be updating my website and social media sites, growing my mailing list, contacting galleries, going to art openings to keep in touch with the local art community and planning my next show.

Making Art
As I got totally immersed in the landscape class, I realized that for a while I just want to paint. I have actually been having this feeling for a few months. I will let the pressure of marketing my work take a back burner for a while. Actually, I am not sure of how long. I am just loving spending my time thinking about and creating art.

Here is my latest creation:

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Imaginary Landscape, acrylic on paper, 12×12-inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Have you recently put aside something you were supposed to do for something you loved to do?

Abstract Landscape

My abstract landscape painting class continues through the month of October. The pace of the class is actually perfect. We have an assignment every day. One day we paint or do a mixed media piece and the next day we have a chance to catch up with assignments and gather ideas by looking at other abstract painter’s websites or watching a particular art video. One video we watched was by Colorado artist Krista Harris. I was struck by something she said about knowing when a painting is finished. “Work is never really finished. You let it go just so you can get on to the next one.” I can identify with that.

This week I had three painting assignment, each different from the other. At the beginning of the week we painted a landscape from a photograph that was taken on the road from Dublin to Cork by our teacher Pauline Agnew. It was the first actual painting and was not to be done in a particularly abstract way. The most challenging part for me was the sky. I do not usually go into such detail in my own paintings. Here is the painting:

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Road from Dublin to Cork, acrylic on paper, 20×24-inches.©Ann Hart Marquis

The following assignment was completely different but also an abstract landscape. It was a mixed-media piece using charcoal, ink, and acrylic paint. Again we used a photograph of what seemed like an overgrowth of trees, limbs, and leaves. I thought at first it would we difficult for me, but I very much enjoyed the project and will do one again soon. Here it is:

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Under Irish Trees, mixed media on paper, 20×24-inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

You, like my teacher are free to offer opinions. I would appreciate it.

Oil Pastels

Since I have begun painting I have always heard that artists, no matter how long they have been creating art, should continue to take workshops, or classes or somehow continually expose themselves to something new.

The idea even goes so far as to suggest that if, for example you are an oil painter, you may learn new ideas from a sculpture class. Or if you are a writer, you may want to try painting.

I love going to workshops and taking classes whenever I can. With that idea in mind, I am now taking my first e-course. It is an abstract landscape painting class taught by Pauline Agnew who lives in Ireland.

I have an assignment every day except weekends and this first week has been a little daunting. So far I am keeping up with the work and using materials that I have not used before. For example, one of our first assignments was to copy one of Claude Monet’s water lily oil paintings in oil pastels. I have never used oil pastels before and it was a challenge for me. It was an additive/subtractive process using oil pastels, olive oil and baby wipes. I did a lot of drawing and wiping off so that under colors could show through. Here is my first attempt.

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Water Lily Pond, oil pastel on paper, 14×18-inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Feedback is always appreciated.

From Photograph to Painting?

Since I have been painting, I have taken many photographs of interesting places, trees, objects, animals and people that I thought perhaps I would paint someday. I am still learning that not all lovely photos will make a lovely painting.

Perhaps there is a color adjustment that needs to be made or a major section of the photo that needs to be cropped. Or the composition is not quite right. And sometimes a photo just doesn’t translate well into a painting. You can’t always go from photograph to painting. I had that experience recently in France.

I started a painting of a landscape that I had admired and then photographed and then sketched. I spent a great deal of time working on and finishing the painting. It was the last painting that I did in France and I was in somewhat of a rush to finish it. It is never a good idea to paint under pressure—neither from oneself or from an outside source.

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Last painting in France

After returning to New Mexico and getting my head and body all back in this time zone and getting the painting stretched, I realized that the painting that I had thought finished was anything but. Actually, in many areas it was rather bad. So since I consider painting to be a problem solving experience for me, I looked at it until I saw some glaring misuse of paint and I then eventually realized what it needed.

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Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 14×14-inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I wish that I could say that repainting part or even most of a painting was a new experience for me. It isn’t. I usually know that something needs to be fixed, but it sometimes takes me a while to see the problem. I also know that I will be having this experience again. It is all about problem solving.

Have you ever had to redo a creative project that you thought was finished?

Painting Retreat, II

According to the dictionary, a retreat is defined as a place affording peace, quiet, privacy, and/or security. In my last post I talked about my experiences with a variety of people while enjoying an art retreat in France. As I mentioned, I go on a painting retreat almost every year. It has become almost a necessity to me, or at least something that I feel compelled to do. While on retreat, I do feel a sense of peace and quiet and joy.

I find that I do some of my most innovative work while I am on a retreat. I have time from morning to night to paint. If I need an inspiration I have sometimes looked around the house that I was staying in to see what could possibly make an interesting painting. My Green Chair is an example.

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

One year while in the south of France I took a train to Paris. One of the things that I wanted to see was one of my favorite paintings, La charmeuse de serpents (The Snake Charmer) done by Henri Rousseau at the Musée d’Orsay. Much to my dismay, it was on loan to a museum in California. In my disappointment I decided to do a painting inspired by Rousseau. It sold while I was still in France, so I decided do to a series, which turned out to be very successful.

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Waiting for the Lion, acrylic on canvas, 20×24-inches, 2010. ©Ann Hart Marquis

In 2011, I spent the summer painting all day and taking a critique class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The school was a wonderful experience for me. The classrooms were enormous and each day my friend Gail Suttelle and I had a room to ourselves. I did several architectural paintings and I was also inspired by all of the parks in Chicago and painted this park scene.

ann hart marquis chicago grant park Painting Retreat, II

Chicago, Grant Park, acrylic on canvas, 20×24-inches, 2011. ©Ann Hart Marquis

In 2012 my partner Tim Anderson and I visited one of the many prehistoric caves in France, Niaux. I was very touched by the wonderful drawings in the cave, but traversing the cave itself was a memorable experience. I didn’t want to try to represent the drawings, I wanted to paint my experience of the cave.

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Cave Without Time II, acrylic on canvas, 14×14-inches, 2012. ©Ann Hart Marquis

As you can see, my style has changed throughout the years, but my love of exploring new scenes in France is still a very exciting experience for me. I am continually encouraging my creative friends to go on a retreat of their own. You would be surprised how many new doors are waiting to be opened.

Next year Ireland and northern California are also on my list.

Retreat from the Every Day

I have been home from France for two weeks now and I find myself reflecting on my painting retreat. I also find myself thinking about my retreats which have been almost yearly for 15 years.

All of my retreats have included some time in France, ample alone time to paint, an almost total lack of knowledge of what was happening in the world, sharing some of the time with friends, teachers or my partner, Tim. They have all also been based on pleasure and joy.

Retreats with Friends

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He was perplexed, they were 8297 nanoseconds too late. ©Karin Hillmer

Several years ago I shared my retreat space with the photographer, Karin Hillmer. It was interesting to see what she photographed during the day and what little treasure she would bring home to include into her photographic montage. I also shared time with the composer Donna Miller who played lovely music on the second floor while I painted in the studio on the third floor.


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Provénce, 2007. ©Tim Anderson


My partner, Tim Anderson, a photographer, has accompanied me to France many times. He has photographed scenes from Paris to Provénce and his own retreats along with mine.

This year I shared a house with my friend Gail who drew on her iPad or with pastels while I painted.

Gail Smith digital impression Retreat from the Every Day

©g forbes shannon, digital impression


Retreats with Teachers

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Sunflowers. ©Suzanne L’Hoste

I have spent time with a mentor, Suzanne L’Hoste, and my first painting teacher, Carole Watanabe. I love being with people who are creating their art as I am doing mine. It is a very interesting and refreshing experiencing for me.

WatermelonTime carole watanabe Retreat from the Every Day

Watermelon Time. ©Carole Watanabe




This year, I listened as I heard Gail tell people how disciplined I was because I went upstairs and painted almost every day. As I told her, it is not discipline, it is love of painting.

This year I painted in France and Italy for two months. Two years ago I painted in France for three months. No one has been able or wanted to stay that long. Fortunately, I also have loved my alone time there, when it is just me and the paints and my affection of France.

Theresa Sweeney: Eco-Art Therapy


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Howler. © Theresa Sweeney

I first became aware of the work and writing of Theresa Sweeney a year before she died when one of my paintings was featured in the journal, Stone Voices: Connecting Art with Spirit. Dr. Sweeney wrote a column in the journal for three years. Her writing centered on healing the self and the earth at the same time through art. She was an artist and founder of the new blended psychology, Eco-Art Therapy.

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What’d Up?  ©Theresa Sweeney

Baby Ella Theresa sweeney Theresa Sweeney: Eco Art Therapy

Baby Ella. ©Theresa Sweeney


Since my art focuses on painting nature in order to emphasize its fragility and beauty, I was immediately drawn to her perspective. Here is a segment of her writing that appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Stone Voices.

“My art is a celebration of our connection to Nature. It inspires us because it reaches that non-verbal knowingness deep inside that we are part of something much larger and wiser than ourselves. I like to think of my art as a porthole into that world.”

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Theresa Sweeney was on a mission to reconnect people with the purity, wisdom and spirit of nature within and around us. I think that I now want to read more of her work.

Home from France

Tuesday, I returned home from France after two months. When I am gone from New Mexico for such a long time, re-entry can be a little daunting.

Looking back on those two months brings me insight and questions about my art. During the last two weeks in France, I began to realize that my work is again going through an evolution. Everything is in limbo. I am not sure in which direction the change will take me but I believe in process and waiting to see what develops.

This is my last unfinished painting that I did in Soréze. I just ran out of time.

Last painting in France Unfinished 592x600 Home from France

Last painting in France-unfinished

When I came home, I learned that I was accepted for an artist residency in 2015 in Sonoma County, California, the area in which I grew up. Sonoma County inhabits a large part of my psyche. My love of the natural world and my inspiration to paint it comes from living there for the first twenty years of my life. That area left a profound imprint on my imagination, and It shaped my idea of beauty and my desire to see that beauty preserved.

Sonoma County Residency Home from France

Sonoma County Artist Residency

So, already in my state of limbo, I seem to have a future creative focus. I will be exploring why my paintings still reverberate with my heartfelt ties to part of northern California.

But what to do between now and then? I will be waiting for direction.

Perspective and Inspiration

Tomorrow will be my last day in Soréze. This past week has taken a burst of energy to finish one more painting, walk around Lake St. Ferreol as many times as possible, find everything that I have scattered around this big house and pack.

annhartmarquis soreze france Perspective and Inspiration

Soréze, France

I have painted as much as I can, gone all of the places that I wanted to visit, and eaten all the yummy food that I wanted. I have walked almost every day and now I need a new pair of shoes. It is time to come home, which I always do with mixed feelings when I leave France. I come to this area and stay so long because I love everything, including having the opportunity to paint at all hours of the day and night.

Traveling gives me new perspective and inspiration. While I have been here, I have experienced a desire to change the way I paint to a more abstract manner, and I have. Here is painting #8.

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Untitled #8, acrylic on canvas, 14×14-inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I feel that my work is moving quickly in a new direction and I am not sure where that will take me. I have found a painter in Ireland who does abstract landscape workshops, so maybe I will go there next year. If I do, I will probably need to visit briefly in France.

A Change of Scenery

This past week I took a few days off from painting and drove down to the coastal town of Collioure, France for a change of scenery and for new inspiration. Collioure is on the western side of the Mediterranean, where the Pyrenees meet the sea. It was lovely to be around such blue clear water and sea breezes.

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Collioure, France

Collioure has always been a source of inspiration for artists. Picasso, Derain, Dufy, Chagall, Matisse and Marquet all painted Collioure to capture its special light and colors of this once small, historical fishing village.

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Collioure, France

These works displayed such vibrant colors and brushstrokes that the artists were referred to as “la cage aux Fauves” (wild beasts) and it is from these artists that the Fauvism movement began.

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View of Collioure (The Bell Tower), Henri Matisse, 1905

On a completely different topic, before I left for the Mediterranean, I completed an image of part of a home here in Soréze. I wanted to see if I could continue being loose with something more structured and architectural. It was a little more challenging, but I continued with my palette knife. It was difficult to get the result that I wanted doing the casings around the window and door with my knife, so I did use a brush for some of those details. For now, I am happy with the results.

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Untitled #7, acrylic on canvas, 14×4-inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis