Category Archives: Nature

Winter Solstice

Today is the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice. It will be the longest night of the year, meaning that despite the cold winter, the days get progressively longer after the Winter Solstice until the Summer Solstice in 2015.

Here in New Mexico the skies are unusually grey and it is unusually cold and dry. As in most parts of the country, most of the trees have no leaves. However, for the southwest, winter means brown grass and shrubs. There is little green to break up the endless shapes of sienna and umber.

Ann Hart Marquis-Mew Mexico Late Fall #3-winter solstice

New Mexico Late Fall #3, acrylic on paper, 12×20 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

For the next few months I plan to continue my New Mexico series to see the colors of the landscape as it becomes colder. I already see that the clouds are a blue-grey, without the subtle pinks and oranges of fall.

And my last fall painting:

Ann Hart Marquis-New  Mexico Late Fall #4-winter solstice

New Mexico Late Fall #4, acrylic on canvas, 9×12 inches, 2014. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I spent the Winter Solstice dancing, my second favorite creative activity. Did you celebrate the solstice?

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.”

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico, Late Fall-acrylic

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.

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)!

Ann Hart Marquis. Limb to Limb, acrylic

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.

Ann Hart Marqui, Limb to Limb, acrylic

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:

Marquis-Limb to Limb, III, acrylic

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.

Theresa Sweeney: Eco-Art Therapy


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


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.”


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.

Work in Progress

Guest Post by Dotty Seiter

A painter sometimes copies a master’s work to explore aspects of painting-Imitation of a Masterpiece.  Similarly, I appropriated the structure and gist of master poet Billy Collins’ I Ask You to give words to my experience of a total-immersion painting weekend with artist/teacher Ann Marquis and longtime best friend Sylvia in May.

 I Ask You
What scene would I want to be enveloped in more than this one,

a sunny morning in May at Sylvia’s kitchen table,
floor-to-ceiling window panes letting in light,
pale walls cocooning our makeshift studio space,
no computer in sight,
my hand held high on a paint brush?

It gives me entrée into here and now—
the play of light and reflection on the glass table,
cadmium yellow and mars black yielding to my palette knife—
while past the backyard oaks the world spins round,
ideas, thoughts, chores, and projects swirling in a frenzy.

Beyond this table there is nothing that I need,
not even a hands-off job with passive income,
or a house by the ocean with an enormous front porch.

No, it’s all here,
muddied rinse water in a plastic container,
a glazed vase holding dried lotus pods,
a nine-inch color wheel,
not to mention Ruth’s still life leaning against the wall,
and the way three hearts—each a different hue and value—
are painting together in perfect harmony.

So forgive me if I cock my head now
and watch Ann bring acrylics to life on her canvas
while my eyes light up in my hand—
sparklers after dark on a summer evening—
and my attention lasers to a whole universe
made of one small canvas
and roughly a million possibilities.

I had no idea when I headed into the weekend with Ann and Sylvia that painting—something I’d never done before—would grab me by the hand and hold fast. No idea.

I returned from Chicago and immediately set up a makeshift studio in my home, north of Boston. I paint nearly every day now, even if only for a few minutes, even if my already over-busy schedule doesn’t allow. When I paint, time falls away completely. I remember this kind of timelessness from when I was eight years old, clambering over the rocky shoreline in front of a summer cottage in Connecticut while a wordless conversation took place between my eyes and feet, and all senses were alert and activated. I pick up a paintbrush now and enter that kind of zone again. All that exists is what is in front of me—that which my hands, eyes, and mind create.

North Rustico Lighthouse

North Rustico Lighthouse

My first paintings, all five of them!, were mostly realist—pods in a vase, a pear, a tree, an apple, a lighthouse. The lighthouse, in particular, is highly representational, capturing a likeness of one that sat a few hundred feet from the cottage where my husband Dave and I savored a sweet vacation together on Prince Edward Island early in June.  In painting the lighthouse I grappled with perspective, shadow and detail, and I was pleased with its photographic qualities.

Keeper, Dotty Seiter

Keeper, Dotty Seiter, 2014

But … something in me was restless. I wanted to paint that lighthouse again. Quickly, playfully, inventively. I wanted to venture into what I think of as impressionism, not that I even know exactly what impressionism really is.

I was paralyzed for a few days. I couldn’t think of how to start. If I didn’t paint exactly what I saw in the photo I was working from, i.e. the white clapboards, the red roof, the deep blue sky, the green grasses, the accurate-as-I-could-get-it shape of the structure, what would I paint?

This, it turns out!

First Impression

First Impression, Dotty Seiter, 2014

I completed a first draft in an hour.  That alone was bold and freeing for me.  Though I later fussed a bit with details, I had taken an important step away from my go-to inclination to be literal.

Now I’m restless again. Much as I might have loosened up with my second lighthouse painting, it is by no means loose! Painting keeps pushing me to let go, make mistakes, start again, make more mistakes, stop being tight and stingy, stretch past comfort into new territory. I’m calling First Impression complete and moving on, perceiving with enlivening recognition that whether any one painting is complete or not, painting is a gateway for me and I will always be a work in progress!

A Sense of Place

Guest post by Rebecca Dierickx

For better or worse my environment or, in other words, my “sense of place” influences my art. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say my childhood location has become the “standard” to which I compare other areas I have visited or lived. This is shown in an excerpt from my artist statement: “I am intrigued by memories and emotions and these have become recurring themes in my art.”

Iowa Memories-oil

Iowa Memories, oil, 8×10. ©Rebecca Dierickx

The influence from my childhood can be seen in my oil painting “Iowa Memories.”  For the first twelve years of my life I was raised on a farm in Eastern Iowa. Rolling hills, creeks, and timbers surrounded me. My husband was raised on the Western Slope of Colorado surrounded by breathtaking mountains. Even though he might appreciate what I call sublime, he needs to be near mountains to feel his sense of place.

I feel fortunate to have lived in a variety of places throughout the United States. I’ve viewed diverse scenery and met many people—some of whom became life long friends. Part of my “sense of place” isn’t just the countryside, but the feelings and emotions I was experiencing during those times in my life.

Standing Still

Still Standing at 442, 30×32 inches. ©Rebecca Dierickx

An example of the location and emotions being displayed in my artwork is a linoleum cut print, “Still Standing at 442.” I was living in Oklahoma where tornadoes are frequent and my house number was 442. My emotional “sense of place“ at the time is also displayed. My husband was deployed to Iraq. I was raising our two children by myself while completing my BFA. Talk about stress! But I managed to survive and be stronger for it.


I love storms—not the destruction, but the feeling in the air and colors in the sky. That’s probably influenced from residing in both Iowa and Oklahoma for many years of my life—both notorious for being in Tornado Alley. The painting “Oklahoma Afternoon” is based on a memory of an afternoon sky I viewed from my backyard.

Oklahoma Afternoon-oil-10x20

Oklahoma Afternoon, oil,10×20. © Rebecca Dierickx

I now live in a gorgeous part of Colorado where I’m creating a new sense of place. Nevertheless the trees, rolling hills, and stormy skies are still my favorite vistas.

Contemplative Day-oil 9x12

Contemplative Day, oil,  9×12. ©Rebecca Dierickx

“Contemplative Day” is a view near my home in Colorado; but the influences from my youth show through. Understanding my ‘sense of place’ helps me know the influences on my art.


Here are a few more examples of my work:

My summer at Rock Creek-pastel 9x9

My Summer at Rock Creek, pastel, 9×9. © Rebecca Dierickx

Vivid Autumn-oil 12x12

Vivid Autumn, oil, 12×12. © Rebecca Dierickx

Wild Horses in Peril

Guest Post by Karen McLain

In June of 2009, I was on my way home from a workshop with Cowboy Artist of America, Jim C. Norton, when I first visited wild horses. It was the Onaqui herd, located west of the Salt Lake area in Utah.  As I began to paint them, I had no idea the profound impact they would have on my heart, and the important way they would change my painting. The first series I painted, “Among the Mustangs,” featured that Onaqui herd, and 10 days before I first exhibited them, 200 of those horses were rounded up.

Onaqui herd

Onaqui herd, Utah. ©Tribe Equus

History of Wild Horse Management 

At that time, I began to learn about the problems facing wild horses and see what solutions were being worked on. In 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed and the BLM and Forest Service were mandated to manage wild horses where they existed on the range lands at that time.

KarenMcLain-Stallion Bunch

Stallion Bunch. ©Karen Mclain

During the past several years Herd Management Areas have been zeroed out, (or vastly reduced, threatening the genetic viability of the herd), and the horses taken to Long Term Holding. Currently, there are more horses in Long Term Holding facilities than are living wild on the range.

In 2011 the National Academy of Science (NAS) did an independent study of BLM management practices and the wild horse program. The findings of that study were recently published and brought before the BLM Advisory Board. It is imperative that the BLM follow the recommendations of the NAS study for a science based and consistent, humane management approach.

Current Needs of Wild Horses  

KarenMcLain-Mare foal

Mare and Foal. ©Karen McLain

My hope is for more on-range management with accurate (not over reported), numbers of wild horses and low stress removal as needed. I also would like to see the continued use of PZP, a vaccine that blocks fertilization. The other aspect that is vital is the collaboration of community partnerships—onsite projects, waterholes, trash clean up, herd monitoring—as well as giving the land a break from multi-use (cattle and sheep grazing) in primarily Wild Horse designated areas.

KarenMcLain-Apache sparr

Apache Sparr. ©Karen McLain

For further information see:

Wyoming RemovalsThe Peril of Cloud’s Famous Herd“Why Wild Horses”,

“Why Wild Horses” by Carol Walker, National Academy of SciencesFacts to Consider

Please enjoy these videos:

Karen McLain

Karen McLain Videos






Painting Wild Horses





Cedric Green, Nature Lover #2

Sudan 1, galvanized-etched plate

Cedric Green

Cedric Green is an artist and print maker living and working in France, concerned about health and about the environment. He is also a man of many talents that are partially reflected by his international history. He was born in Mozambique, Africa. He soon moved to Southern Rhodesia and eventually trained in architecture at the University of Natal.

In 1962 he relocated to Great Britain where during a period of 30 years he produced buildings, drawings, designs, sculpture and paintings, and also taught at the Cheltenham School of Art, and Sheffield University in England. In the 80’s he became fascinated by printmaking, and acquired the basic technical skills. He soon moved to France, restored an old farmhouse for home and studio and began working full-time in 1991, painting and making experimental prints.

The Prints

The examples of prints shown here mark recent stages in the development of an individual technique which uses a wide range of methods—copper and zinc plates printed in *intaglio and relief, monotypes sometimes combined in the same print. His methods mix spontaneity of creation and execution, precision, controlled accident, and a search for ways of expressing ideas which have been a preoccupation of his for many years.

A printing process that uses an etched or engraved plate; the plate is smeared with ink and wiped clean, then the ink left in the recesses makes the print.

Paysage nu (1)

Paysage nu (1), galvanized-etched plate, ©Cedric Green


 Cedric’s Recurring Themes

Reflets 1

Reflets 1

A recurring theme is Atlantis, Plato’s mythical utopia destroyed by flood as a punishment for people’s arrogance, a relevant myth for our time. Many of his prints and paintings are based on the ambiguity, distortions and complexity of reflections in water or in the imperfect mirror of memory. Musical ideas are important to him and appear in the frequent use of variations on a theme.

 The Politics of Printmaking

Cedric’s printmaking technique (and enjoyment of printmaking) was transformed by the rediscovery of 19th century electrolytic printing plate-making processes— originally named Electro-Etching and Galvanography. He uses the term “galv-etch” and other names using the prefix “galv” to distinguish particular contemporary application of these old techniques. He is resolutely opposed to attempts to patent and restrict the use of methods that have been known and used by printers and etchers for 150 years. For more information about Cedric’s printmaking ideas go to


If all of this work did not keep him busy enough, he just took three years off to build an ecological house and studio where he now lives and works. Click here to see Building a Solar House in France.

Green Art Part I

Cedric Green, Nature Lover

As I have discussed in my posts before, I consider myself and environmentalist as well as an artist. Not long ago I had the pleasure of being included in an international online artist’s guide that only accepts artists who are creating work related to ecology, nature, social issues and all things Green.

This very extensive guide was created by Cedric Green, an artist and architect who now lives in France. The guide originally developed from Cedric’s desire to use materials that were nontoxic for his personal art. He wanted to create fine art prints without the toxicity of acids, solvents and other noxious chemicals. From nontoxic printmaking methods, Cedric began using safe products for all of his art.

 A Little History and the Development of Cedric’s Website

In the early 1990’s, Cedric produced a booklet about nontoxic printmaking. The international journal Printmaking Today, published a shortened version of the booklet in which he shared that electrolytic etching and plating methods were a 19th century invention, used for printing images as early as 1840.  (

Cedric Green

Imaginary Flowers 1 (Fleurs imaginaires 1), galvanized-etched plates, printed in multiple combinations of rotation and colors ©2010, Cedric Green


At that time he also created a website that included links to other sites of print makers using safe methods for woodcuts, linocuts, water-based screen prints, and substitute photo-printing techniques. All of the information outgrew his links page, so he registered a domain called and the guide started, eventually including all forms of art. It is still a single handed-effort that Cedric struggles to keep going, because of his dedication to ecology and the fact that the website is quite highly ranked by search engines. For more information abut Cedric’s non-toxic printmaking process also see:

For his personal fine art website see:

Is the art you produce green? If not, do you know how to make it nontoxic?