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.”

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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.

Response to My Surroundings

A generally agreed upon definition of abstract art is the use a visual language of shape, form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.

Along those lines, I am now doing a series of paintings that are a response to New Mexico. Right now, as in many parts of the world, the landscape is brown and dark, fall is almost over, and the sky is frequently grey. I am on my second painting and my process has been to look at nature and choose paint colors based on what I see. Then in a response to my surroundings, I just start putting paint on canvas using a variety of brushes and tools. I play with paint until I think the painting is “finished.”

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

I realize that my finished product is a result on what is going on unconsciously and consciously. I guess that you could say that I am painting both the inner and outer landscape. It is rather exciting to not know what I will end up with.

In my continuing foray into the abstract world, I find that I still like to see that comforting horizon line. It is difficult to lose it and still call a painting an abstract landscape.

I would appreciate any feedback.

A Creative You-Turn

Guest Post by Tim Anderson

I have been a professional photographer for more than 40 years, and a fine art photographer for almost 15 years. Several months ago, however, I had decided to not do any more fine art photography. It just became too much of an effort to arrange for a model, scout and pick a location, schedule a time to shoot, and then spend even more time post-processing.

I felt that I had quite a lot of work archived that I really hadn’t done anything with, and that when the time came I could do something with those. Well, that time came only a few months after I had decided to take that break, mentioned above. I was in the middle of what I will call a “you-turn.” This is a point at which you may run up against a wall in your creative pursuits, and feel there is nowhere else to go. The tide was ebbing.

My you-turn came late in the evening one day as I was making the rounds of the house, turning off lights, etc. I was walking past the dining room, and took a peek out there to make sure the outside door was locked.

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My eyes were drawn to a silhouette (above) on the south wall. We have a very large painting there and I noticed a very compelling group of lines and shadows, which were created by the very bright outside yard light casting shadows from window posts and other framework of the windows. I took out my camera gear and proceeded to work with the shadows. I placed several Winnie-the-Pooh characters in the light’s path and their shadows were were also cast on the large painting. I worked on a variety of shadowy effects until more than an hour later, when I had shot my last frame. That was my “you-turn.”

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I only needed that one image projected on the wall to light a fire under my semi-extinguished creative spirit. Since that night I have created two completely different new series, “French Noir” (below) and “Shadow and Light,” (above) which are both driving me to new adventures in post-processing as well as being able to enable me to view some of my long-forgotten photos in a new creative light.

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Just when I thought I was creatively blocked I was offered an opportunity. Has that situation ever presented itself to you? If so, just take a slow look around and you may discover all the inspiration you need to make your own you-turn.

Good luck!

The Next Level

I have been painting for almost 15 years. When I started with my first workshop in France, I had no painting or drawing experience or skills. I was drawn to art at a young age, but I did not know I wanted to be an artist or that one day I would be painting. I had no innate artistic skills.

When I came home from that workshop in France with 10 days of painting experience, I knew that if I wanted to keep painting, which I did. I needed many hours, or perhaps years would be a better description, to develop into the kind of artist that I wanted to be.

ann hart marqui looking at france The Next Level

Looking at France, acrylic on canvas, 11×14 inches, 2001. ©Ann hart Marquis

Since the beginning I have wanted to go to the “next level,” regardless of what that level would entail. I have never gotten over that feeling that I could do better or that I need and want to move on to something better.

For me going on to the next level means an effort to conceive new concepts and new ways of expressing them. It requires letting go of attitudes and frequently how I did things in the past.

ann hart marquis red chair The Next Level

Red Chair, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2009. © Ann hart Marquis

In the past I have painted trees, fruit, chairs, jungle scenes, cities, landscapes and myself. In other words, I have been drawn to paint many different tableaus in many different techniques. Now I am asking myself what is it that I really want to paint, how I want to paint it and why.

AnnHartMarquis Sunflowers The Next Level

Sunflowers, acrylic on canvas, 14×14 inches, ©Ann Hart Marquis, Available

Recently, I came across an article in LensWork magazine by Guy Tal, a photographer. “Where the aesthetic appeal of an image is determined by what is in the frame, the significance of an image is determined by why it is in the frame,” he wrote.

Tal also suggests that an artist does not make art of things, but rather about things. If that is the case, the next level for me may be to step off into the world of abstract art.

Mayo 2 Rebbeca Crowell The Next Level

Mayo #2, oil on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2013. © Rebecca Crowell

 

Tree Limbs

This past week, I have been working on a few projects simultaneously, but I have been focusing on what are sometimes called networked images. I have already posted one of these networked paintings and I even sold it (Limb to Limb, below)!

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Limb to Limb. mixed media on paper, 12×20 inches. ©2014, Ann Hart Marquis

They are actually images taken of intertwined or overlapping trees and tree branches. That is where the concept of a network of tree limbs comes in. They are interesting to paint and they are part of my abstract landscape emphasis.

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Limb to Limb II, mixed media on paper, 12×20-inches. ©2014, Ann Hart Marquis

They include a series of steps. First, I put a color that I like on heavy watercolor paper. Next, using charcoal and a black marker, I draw in random tree shapes and branches that I think will make an interesting composition. The last step is to apply dark and light paint to all areas of the painting, creating what becomes the finished painting. For this step I use paint brushes, rags and my fingers. The process takes me about 5-6 hours, not including time for paint to dry. Here is the one I just finished:

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Limb to Limb III, mixed media on paper, 12×20 inches. ©2014, Ann Hart Marquis

I have been thinking about continuing the series on large canvases. I would love to have your opinion about this series.

Studio Sale:
For those of you who may have missed my recent newsletter, I am having a sale of all of my paintings, including works on paper through Dec 31, 2014. There is a 30% discount for those of you who have already purchased my paintings and a 15% discount for new buyers. Take a look at the portfolios on my site and contact me if you are interested or if you have questions.

Painting for Beginners

My class at the University of New Mexico, Continuing Education, Painting for the Complete Beginner ended last week. Here are a few examples of the work that was done in class. All of the paintings were done in acrylic. As you can see the work is quite diverse and quite good.

All of these paintings were done with the greatest care and diligence. It was such a pleasure to see students learn beginning techniques and then to watch them create such interesting and inspiring pieces. I hope that they all go on with their painting experience. They should. There certainly was talent in the group.

My next class starts in January, 2015, and I get to experience the fun of playing with color all over again. I hope you enjoy these images, as much as I have.

A Sense of Place

As October came to a close so did my abstract landscape painting class taught by Pauline Agnew in Ireland. It was a very successful class for me. I not only learned new techniques, but I let myself experience the pleasure of loosening up my painting style. My horizon lines are now getting a little ambiguous, which is a good thing.

All of my daily class assignments will remain online for a year, and I plan to go back and do some similar work sometime in the near future.

Here are a few things I learned:
1. Acrylic paint and paper are interesting together, but I would rather paint on canvas.
2. Trying new things is a wonderful way to increase one’s repertoire.
3. It is a little difficult to see the blues and greens of Ireland and paint in New Mexico.
4. Oil pastels need to be protected with a frame and glass.
5. I like to have my work critiqued.
6. I like having a daily assignment.
7. I enjoy painting in an abstract way.
8. Now I really want to go to Ireland.

ann hart hart sense of place 480x600  A Sense of Place

Sense of Place, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

My last painting assignment directed me to attend to and paint what is called a “sense of place.” In other words, Pauline encouraged me to paint an area or location with which I am familiar. I have painted New Mexico many times so I wanted to paint something more intimate. What better place than my back yard?

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.

Marketing
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:

ann hart marquis imaginary landscape 600x590 Imaginary Landscape

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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Limb to Limb, 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.