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.
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.
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, 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.
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.