My Portuguese Father in Northern California

Kim Bruce was the topic of my last three posts. During the process of having someone ask her questions about her art and business, she was reminded of her father’s influence on her life and her art. Her post  touched me and I now want to write about my father’s influence on my love of nature and how it relates to my love of painting the natural world.

My father was 100% Portuguese. His mother Mary, along with his grandmother Reza, came to the United States in 1901 from the Azore Islands. They did not stop on the east coast but went directly to family in San Francisco. A husband was imported from Lisbon for Mary when the time was appropriate and the couple moved to Sonoma County, California.


Wilbur Joseph Hart

Wilbur Joseph Hart


My father was the first of 10 children. He had little money but he had a strong work ethic and a love of a certain piece of land in Bennett Valley, about 20 miles from where he grew up. There he built our house and there I grew up. Here is what the valley looks like even now.

annhartmarquis,Bennett Peak, photo ©Tim Anderson, 2013

Bennett Peak, photo ©2013, Tim Anderson,



I was surrounded by the splendor of the natural environment and I loved gazing at Bennett Peak, which looked so majestic to me as a child. I could always see it when I wandered from home.

In other words, I grew up in one of the loveliest areas of the country because my father loved visiting San Francisco, but he wanted to live in Bennett Valley.

Sonoma County looks a like rural France, which may be one reason that I love to paint the countryside of southern France. Here is a painting that I did in Sorèze, France that reminds me of home.


Cutting Day, acrylic on canvas, 16″x20″, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis


It is interesting to think about how an individual’s personal history affects their identity, behaviors, and actions. My history in Bennett Valley contributed to help make me an artist.

How about you?

ann hart marquis, cutting day

L’Ariège, acrylic on linen, 18″x14″, ©2007, Ann Hart Marquis













15 thoughts on “My Portuguese Father in Northern California

  1. Kim Bruce

    What a beautiful area Ann, I can see how it would influence your work. It’s thanks to our fore fathers (and mothers) who ventured forth to new countries and took the risk to make a better life.

    My Grandmother immigrated in 1930 at the age of 26. Alone and not able to speak a word of English. Very brave, a fact that I have often pondered in wonder.

    Thanks for sharing your story
    p.s. My dad is also from a family of 10 children

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Thank you Kim,
      Yes, our for fathers and mothers were very brave. It is difficult for me to conceptualize the idea of packing up my few belongs, getting on a boat and sailing off to new country with little money. I like to think that they were also adventurous.

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Hi Paula
      I have not made that trip, but I thought about it many times as did my father. Life got in his way and I have no excuse. Also I don’t know which island they came from and it is too late to find out, I think.

  2. Rebecca Dierickx-Taylor

    Wonderful story! I can relate to what you wrote. I grew up on a farm in Iowa that had been in the family since my great-grandparents came over from France. It was my little piece of heaven and it definitely influenced my art.

    I love your paintings you included.

  3. Margo

    What a pleasure it is to learn more about you, your artistic process and your thoughtful approach to that process. Fascinating and beautiful. I admire you on
    so many levels. You clearly inherited your father’s work ethic when it comes to your

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      Margo, first of all thank you for reading my blog and thank you for the positive feedback. Painting really has been a process for me. I still learn every time I pick up a brush. it is problem solving all of the time, but I enjoy it.

      1. Margo

        It is obvious from your dedication and enthusiasm, and your willingness to step out of the familiar and into new territory, that problem-solving is one aspect of painting that you find stimulating. It has been a great adventure to watch you evolve as a painter.

        1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

          Margo, I so appreciate that you have been following my art and you are right, painting is an adventure for me and so is writing this blog. Do you realize that you bought my painting five years ago. So much has changed since then for both of us.

          1. Margo

            Indeed it has and you are so fortunate to have a form of expression that allows you to not only explore your experiences and perceptions but also the changes that are going on in the world around you. It is exciting to see you doing art that relates to environmental issues, however indirectly, and also to watch you move away from what you know into the mysterious.

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