Category Archives: Art

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.

Ann Hart Marquis-Water Lily Pond, oil pastel

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.

Last  painting in France

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.

Ann Hart Marquis

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.

Innovation
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.

Ann Hart Marquis-Green Chair

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

Inspiration
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.

Ann Hart Marquis-Waiting for the Lion

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.

Chicago Grant Park

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.

prehistoric cave

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

retreat, Karin Hillmer

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.

 

retreat,Provence, 2007. ©Tim Anderson

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

©g forbes shannon, digital impression

 

Retreats with Teachers

Sunflowers. ©Suzanne L"Hoste

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.

Watermelon Time. © Carole Watanabe

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

THERESA SWEENEY 1961-2014

Howler. © Theresa Sweeney

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.

What'd Up, Theresa Sweeney

What’d Up?  ©Theresa Sweeney

Baby-Ella-Theresa-sweeney

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.

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.

Soreze, France

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.

Untitled #8, acrylic on canvas, 14 x14 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

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.

Collioure

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.

Collioure, France

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.

View_of_Collioure_(The_Bell_Tower)_Henri Matisse, 1905

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.

Untitled #7, acrylic on canvas, 14 x14 inches, 2014. Ann Hart Marquis

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

To Paint More Loosely

Although I consider myself an abstract or sometimes an impressionist painter, one of my goals for this trip to France is to paint more loosely, more abstractly.

All too frequently in a quest to represent a subject with the correct perspective, color, and composition, I tend to go for precision instead of flow. The countryside of southern France generally consists of two types of landscape. One is rolling hills and fields planted with numerous crops (below, right). The second is hilltop villages or fortrages (below, left). In the following paintings, I wanted to combine some of the essence of both in an abstract way; loosely.

Hilltop Village and French Fields

This is the first abstract landscape (below) that I did here in France (painting #4) and it was fun to do. I liked the feeling of not wanting to be precise. I had the landscape in front of me, I decided on my palette, and I just let the paint flow. I did very little after the first application of paint. It was fun and I finished it in about half a day. Painting #1 took three days.

Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 14x14 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

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

The second one was a little more challenging because I wanted to change my palette somewhat, but not completely. I also wanted to try painting in less intense colors. This is how it turned out. I also did it relatively quickly.

AnnHartMarquis, Untitled, Painting #5

Untitled, # 5, acrylic on canvas, 14×14-inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

In these two paintings I primarily used a palette knife, which allows me to to just layer one color of paint on top of another until I get the effect that I want. My next painting is going to be more architectural, so I will see how much I choose to stay away from using a brush. I am just having fun with little thought of how anyone will respond to what I paint. But I always appreciate your feedback.

Total Sensual Experience

Many of you know how much I love France. This week was no exception. It was filled with morning walks in the nearby fields, a wonderful farmer’s market, a village antique sale, and painting almost every day for about five hours.

I also walk around a nearby lake (below) as much as possible because it is in a lovely forested area with water gushing into it from a local river. It takes about an hour to complete the circuit.

Lake Saint Ferreol

Lake Saint Ferreol

France is a total sensual experience for me. Every morning I open the old green wooden shutters to my second floor bedroom and let the sun shine on the mural that goes from floor to ceiling, which means that it is approximately 12×6-feet. Carole Watanabe, the artist who owns the house, painted it. It is a copy of a Matisse painting. Seeing it every morning is a joyous experience.

Mural on my bedroom wall

Mural on my bedroom wall

My housemate gets a view of this mural that is about 5 x 6 feet.

Polish Madonna

Polish Madonna

I am now on my fifth painting and I am about to run out of white paint. I can never have enough white paint. I allowed myself to do one tree painting. It was a necessity for me. There are so many lovely old trees around this area.

Painting #3

Painting #3

Painting #2 is in limbo due to a possible gesso problem, and paintings 4 and 5 will be included in next week’s post.

I still have no names for any paintings, so feel free to offer suggestions.

Rooftops of Soréze.

I have been in France for 14 days now and I am loving it here. I started painting the day after my friend Gail and I moved into the house in the village of Soréze. It is a medieval village. All of the houses are three stories. During the middle ages, the bottom floor was used to house the farm animals so that they could contribute to the warmth of the house.

I paint in a lovely studio on the third floor that is quite large and has windows that open onto views of nearby rooftops. It also has a great view below of the cobbled stone street. It has skylights so the painting light is perfect. There are exactly 30 stair steps from the first floor to the studio. I go from the bottom to the top about 8 times a day.

Third floor studio

Third floor studio

Here is the first version of my first painting in process. When I took the photo, I thought that I was about half finished. It takes me a little while to get into the French painting groove.

First Painting, Soreze, 2014

Beginning of First Painting, Soréze, 2014

Here is the next version.

Revised version

Revised version

Final revision in Soreze

Final revision in Soréze

I never say that I have finished a painting here because when I get home it will be stretched onto wooden stretchers bars by my stretching department, better known as Tim Anderson. Now I have canvas taped on a plywood board with green Frog tape, the color of which is somewhat annoying. By the time I get home, which will be in about a month, my paintings sometimes need a little touch up.

No title has come to mind for this painting. Any suggestions?

PS: Here is an image of the lettuce that we buy at the farmer’s market every Saturday at a nearby town. it makes three salads for two people.

Market day lettuce

Market day lettuce