Tag Archives: abstract landscape painting

Impressions of Ireland

I have been going through all of the images that my partner Tim Anderson took while we were in Ireland. It helps that he is a professional photographer. He did all of the work, I just soaked up what I was seeing a experiencing. With every photo I am taken back to that spot and the way I felt while being there.

photo showing waves and ocean

Photo by Tim Anderson of the Atlantic

Although there were indeed 40 shades of green, we spent much of our time on the west coast near the Atlantic so there were also many shades of blue. I have seen the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic, but the waters on the Irish Atlantic were very vivid and distinct.

Sketch showing Ireland.

Ann Hart Marquis-Painting sketch, acrylic on paper.

There were also shades of red and orange and tones of violet. Those colors were lovely also, but they didn’t impact me like the blues and greens.

I saw many places like stone circles and standing stones and 12th century abbeys, where grey stone was the predominate color. I haven’t processed grey as possibilities for a painting, but I like the idea of using greys and tones of color.

This week I have finally had a chance to do a little sketching with paint to just get a feel for what colors would come out. I played with many colors, just letting my imagination take over without doing any pre-planning. I felt like I was painting my impressions of Ireland. I like that feeling. I like to pick up a paint brush and just start putting down color.

Picture showing expressions of Ireland.

Ann Hart Marquis-Impression of Ireland, acrylic on paper.

I still went for layering paint the way that I have been doing. I do like to see under colors peeking through. The paint sketches in this post are a start to bigger paintings that I hope to get to soon.

Irish Color

We just got back from Ireland. I am full of images of Irish color, cliffs, water, trees and too many other sights to name. I just soaked it all in. Although I didn’t take my paints, one of the things on which I concentrated was color. It was indeed so green. They were vivid, intense greens.

photo describing Irish Green

Irish Green

I have a tendency to paint with a more muted palette, so I am not sure yet how I will translate these images onto the canvas. I plan to start trying this week.

picture of Irish Green

Irish Green

If I was still at a place where I wanted to paint landscape, Ireland was the place to see. But I am an abstract landscape painter, so it is all a mystery to me at this time because I haven’t started to think about mixing paint. There is still a part of me that is processing all that I experienced there.

photo showing Irish Yellow Green

Irish Yellow Green

Ireland was magical and spiritual for me. Part of the reason that I found it so compelling was the beauty, but since we visited many megalithic sites, I was captivated by the mysteries of how and where people lived and expressed their creativity 5-6 thousand years ago.

photo showing Irish Red color.

Irish Red

Ireland is also being overwhelmed with invasive rhododendrons. Since they are so lovely, people don’t seem to mind these invaders.

photo of Irish Rhododendrons

Irish Rhododendrons

So you may be able to tell that I have no idea what I will paint when I am completely back from Ireland.

The Metaphor of Ladders

I have a thing for ladders. I am not as intrigued by ladders as much as I am by trees, but I do find it somehow fulfilling to paint a ladder. I have done it many times, and have found myself thinking about painting another ladder or perhaps incorporating it into a painting.

painting depicting a ladders at night.

Red Ladder at Night, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2006.

So being a curious person and liking to do research, I set out to investigate their symbolic meaning.

The first article I read suggested the ladder is rich in symbolism and metaphor. The horizontal rungs represent progressively higher levels of consciousness and the two vertical uprights, represent the symbol for duality.

painting showing how a ladders are used.

Waiting for the Lion—Viewpoint, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2010.

According to Josepk Panek, since the ladder has no moving parts, it symbolizes ascension by way of personal desire and effort. “The Ladder also reminds us that reaching the highest realms of consciousness is not a short, swift journey. Each rung represents a gradual ascent whereby wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment and perfection are earned by us one step at a time.”

a painting showing a ladders leaning on a tree.

Precarious, acrylic on canvas, 20×24 inches, 2011.

Well, I have to say that my journey upward has been long and slow. Before I started painting I read about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I think it influenced my journey to becoming a more aware, perceptive and perhaps even a more creative person. When I first learned about the theory, I was probably struggling to get to the third level. I spent a great deal of time in the second rung. Today I like to think that I am integrating the top level, but i suspect that is a life-long project.

chart showing ladders of needs

Maslow’s Hierarchyof Needs

Richard Diebenkorn and Micaceous Iron Oxide

When I came across rules written by Richard Diebenkorn, one of my favorite artists, I identified with them immediately. I also found it quite moving that these were rules for himself and were only discovered in his studio after his death.

Diebenkorn rules—Note to myself on beginning a painting:

  1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.
  2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued—except as a stimulus for further moves.
  3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.
  4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.
  5. Don’t “discover” a subject—of any kind.
  6. Somehow don’t be bored—but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.
  7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.
  8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.
  9. Tolerate chaos.
  10. Be careful, but only in a perverse way.

I especially like rules number 1 and 10.

Micaceous Iron Oxide 

Micaceous Iron Oxide

I first attempted what was not certain by covering a piece of hard board with micaceous iron oxide which I had not used before. It is a very dark medium and it is very gritty, like sandpaper.

I am rarely very careful, so that was not a problem. I just layered on the medium to see what would happen.

I decided to paint a tree because I don’t have to discover how to paint a tree. I have painted many (rule #5).

The acrylic paint went on the micaceous iron oxide in mysterious ways, needing more than one layer of one color and fewer of another. As you can see (Shadows), the under layer was quite absorbent. I like the darkness of the finished painting and I will do another soon.

I love the results and I loved trying to be Pollyanna, which I rarely am.

Here is the final result.

painting showing effects of micaceous iron oxide

Shadows, acrylic on micaceous iron oxide on hardboard, 7×8 inches, matted to 14×18 inches, framed

Do you identify with any of Diebenkorn’s rules?

Isolation Coat for Acrylic Paintings

What is an isolation coat? Traditionally, an isolation coat on a painting is a coat of some kind of gloss medium when you finish a painting. It is transparent and goes between the finished painting and the varnish. It is always a good idea to varnish a finished painting to protect it and add to its longevity.

If being archival is important to you, you can add an isolation coat. If you think that it may not be around for 100 years, you can just varnish it when it has dried completely. This is key because otherwise the varnish will stick to your painting and be a nightmare to try and remove. Varnish is not permanent, it just acts as a dust collector that you can remove and replace, every 10-20 years depending on how dusty the environment your painting is kept in.

Using an Isolation Coat Between Layers

An isolation coat can also be used between layers of paint on a surface. I used several layers of a gloss medium between layers in order to form a barrier so that the next coat of paint can allow you to let whatever you have first put on the canvas remain visible, if that is your plan.

Ann Hart Marquis- an painting describing how to use an isolation coat

A Dream for My Father, acrylic and ink on canvas, 30x30x1 inches.

The basic process is do the underpainting. I like to first add color all over my canvas, do some mark making and random colors, let dry, then lay down a thin layer of acrylic gloss medium. That’s the basic process. In that way, if I am basically creating a blue painting, but I want another color showing through, I can paint over it and leave parts of it showing. Perhaps I originally made a very dark mark and I want it to be almost invisible, I can cover it with the second coat of paint.

In this painting I did about three isolation coats somewhere on the canvas and painted over them. I like the process and the effects it gives me. I think that you can see some of the under-details for yourself.

After it dries for about 2 weeks, I will varnish it.

Evening Painting

If you read my post two weeks ago, you saw how I “fixed” a painting with which I was not satisfied. In all of the years that I have been painting there is at least one painting that I just can’t get right no matter how hard I try and how many coats of paints and glazes I have used to try to get the painting just like I want it—something that I think is a good painting.

I have one of those paintings now. In my post about it, I said, “So now with this painting finished and the others resolved, I seem to be almost ready for the exhibit. I think it is finished, but I have to live with it a while.”

Well, I lived with it for about three days. One of my first thoughts was the name of this painting is Evening and the sky did not reflect an evening sky. It was not an evening painting. Next the forefront of the painting seemed to light.

And then what about that building. It was a dull color. The real building which was my studio was red. It needed to be red.

Ann Hart Marquis--Evening at Chalk Hill-evening painting showing a dark sky and water reflected by light

Evening at Chalk Hill, acrylic on birch panel, 18 x 24 x 1.5 inches.

I then painted the sky a violet blue, the studio red (a mixture of cad red light and alizarin crimson) and the foreground darker colors. I also added more reeds in the front, left and made them darker. I didn’t touch the mountains or trees. I did take out the orange-red that was below the trees.

It is now looking good. I think.

Better than two weeks ago. What do you think?

Ann Hart Marquis-Evening at Chalk Hill- finishing a painting

Evening at Chalk Hill, acrylic and ink on birch wood panel, 18 x 24 1.5 inches.

Painting Over a Painting

As some of you know, after living with a painting for a while, I may think it needs a little touch up or perhaps I see what I would call an error that just doesn’t work. I can always remove an element from a painting, paint over a section or change the look. That is the beauty of painting with acrylic.

This week I took a painting on birch panel that had been bothering me for some time. I felt that it was not very  imaginative. I didn’t need to spend much time with it before I decided it had to go and I wanted to keep the expensive panel.

As I mentioned in my last post, sometimes when I look at a painting that I did months ago, I know my style has changed and I find the old work lacking in some way.

First let me show you my new painting. I am very pleased with the way it turned out. And I don’t think that I will be touching it in the future.

Ann Hart Marquis-painting over a painting

Ridge Oaks, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 x 1.5 inches.

I took the old painting, turned it sideways because I liked some of the colors on the side of the painting, drew a horizon line, painted the sky and just started painting over the bottom half.

I layered the bottom half with mixtures of blue, turquoise and green and dabbed on some contrasting color here and there. It was all rather done by intuition.

It was fun and rather exciting to do because I had an exact image in my mind of what I wanted the finished painting to look like. And it was easy, although in some spots I had to do several new layers to cover a dark color.

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Oak-painting a river

Chalk Hill Oak, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart marquis

Here is the original painting which I thought was rather mundane. I am happy that it is still part of my new painting. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Abstract Landscapes Fix

Last summer in France I painted a series of abstract landscapes that were influenced by the panorama around me. Since the paintings were abstract, I took liberties with the landscape and terrain that I was observing.

When I am in the south of France, I have the good fortune to have one of my mentors Suzanne L’Hoste Snadecki available for critiques. When she saw my finished series she commented that she like them all except one.

Here is the one in which she found a problem.

Waiting in for Harvest-original

Waiting in for Harvest-original

Suzanne found the horizontal V lines in the middle of the painting too sharp. I said that I appreciated her opinion, but I like the painting the way it was.

A few weeks ago, after looking at that painting for some time, I found that it was making me uncomfortable and that Suzanne was right.

Ann hart Marquis-Waiting for Harvest-abstract landscape

Waiting for Harvest, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14 x 1.5 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I took out the harsh red lines in the middle of the painting, added more violet and added to the texture of the grass in the middle ground. I am now happy with it and I hope that Suzanne is too.

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?

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.