Category Archives: Painting Retreats and Workshops

Leaving for Ireland

Tomorrow, I will be fulfilling a dream that I have had for a long time. I am leaving for Ireland for three weeks. The trip will consist of four days in Dublin, five days driving around the south and then twelve days touring the west coast.

photo showing how it feels leaving or Ireland


I have had a provocative relationship with Ireland for many years. It has been calling to me through books, movies and stories for at least two decades. I am adopted and it was about that long ago that I found out that my father was Irish.

I have put the trip on the back burner for a long time, but about six months ago I decided it was time to go.

photo showing part of Ireland

Dingle on the west coast

So this will be part soul journey for me, part just exploring a very interesting culture and being curious how the wet and green environment there will influence my painting.

I really want to pay attention to ancient symbols and figures that I will see. I want to look at Irish art, the landscape, the sea and the cliffs. It will be a total contrast to New Mexico.

Newgrange is part of Ireland

Newgrange, built about 4000 BC.

I don’t plan to paint while I am there. I just want to absorb everything that is around me. And I want to be an adventurist.

The photos on this page are some of the sites I will be visiting.

This will be my last post until I get back in June. I will let you know how it went.


I have often fantasized about spending a month in Paris. It is now a reality as I start to plan my upcoming trip. Paris has been described, romanticized and glorified for centuries. I think that all of the glowing ideas about this city are more than justified.

I have been dreaming about Paris and visiting it for 32-years. I have been painting it for about ten. Now, I am just going to go and experience it. I will not be taking any paints and I may not take a sketchbook. I just want to wander around, wonder at the history, look at art and eat great food.

I hope to be inspired so that when I return, my mind will be full of exciting ideas that I can turn into paintings. I particularly want to walk along the Seine and just be near water. Here is a painting I did about 10-years ago.

Ann Hart Marquis-La Seine-paris

La Seine, acrylic on canvas, 20x24x1.5-inches, 2005. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Although my painting style has gone more toward the abstract, I still enjoy perspective, structure and trying to paint what I see. My brain enjoys the challenge.

For the next few weeks I will continue to get ready for my trip. For now, the airline reservations have been made, the apartment has been rented and the raincoat has been purchased.

a bientôt… I’ll let you know when I return whether or not I took a sketchbook.

Gold Leaf

During the workshop that I attended in Phoenix, I used imitation gold leaf for the first time. Gold leaf or metal leaf is exactly as it sounds. It is a more cost effective version of genuine gold leaf imitating the same metallic qualities.

The metals used to create the imitation gold leaf are an alloy of copper and zinc. Metal leaf is thicker than genuine gold leaf and is easier to handle. It commonly comes in squares of about 5 x 5 inches.

Real gold leaf is usually stored in a store vault. It is sold in squares of about 2 x 2 inches and costs about $10 per square. Imitation gold leaf comes in squares of about 5 x 5 inches, and cost about $0.25 cents per square.

The process of using the imitation gold leaf was to apply gold leaf fixative that was made specifically for this product. I put it in the places that it thought would make an interesting composition and where I wanted to see the shimmer. After applying the glue, I waited for it to dry until it was just tacky and then laid the leaf on it. Next I got the air bubbles out with a soft brush. The image was then ready for me to complete.

Here is how the painting turned out:

Ann Hart Marquis-Abstract 3-gold leaf

Abstract 3, mixed media on paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I like the process and result and since I bought a booklet of gold leaves, I can use them in more paintings.


This past week I was in Phoenix, AZ attending Art Unraveled, a creative week of workshops and an art retreat that takes place every year. I always like to take workshops and classes. It helps me to grow as a painter when I can be inspired by new ideas. It is an adventure for me.

I spent my time taking classes from the abstract artist Joan Fullerton. Her style was fun, interesting, and effective. It is her belief that “abstract art encourages the imagination to run free. Inner and outer worlds collide making a space for new awareness to grow.”

Joan taught several mark-making and layering techniques that were what I was hoping for. We worked in mixed media which included acrylic paint and medium, acrylic paint pens, oil pastel, charcoal and ink. Each work started with random mark-making. We then used our materials to create whatever inspired us.

Ann Hart Marquis-Abstract 2

Abstract 2, mixed media on canvas, 14 x 18 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I worked on stretched canvas and watercolor paper. The paintings above and below are on stretched canvas. They both developed rather quickly, in about 1½ hours. They may be finished, but I never know when a painting is done until I have lived with it for a while.

Ann Hart Marquis-Abstract 1

Abstract 1, mixed media on canvas, 14 x 18 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

They seem a little busy to me. What do you think?

Sonoma County Paintings

While I was in California, it was difficult to not be inspired by almost everything I saw, especially when I was out of a city. I spent time letting memories from my childhood wash over me. I loved how Sonoma County felt. It was a pleasure to soak up the familiar fragrances, light and feel of the air.

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Ridge-sonoma county paintings

Chalk Hill Ridge, acrylic and charcoal on birch panel, 20 x 20 x 1.5 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I was particularly reminded of California poppies and brown rolling hills. I was drawn to the various shades of green and the reflections on the small lakes on the property. I had never painted a vineyard before and I enjoyed capturing the grape vines in their first stages of bearing fruit. Also importantly, I had never painted in California before. It was a wonderful opportunity for me.

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Lake South, sonoma county paintings

Chalk Hill Lake, South, acrylic and charcoal on birch panel, 20 x 20 x 1.5 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I am not sure when I will be back in California, but it was a “going home” experience for me and I have many memories from my time there as well as some new paintings. I did enjoy creating Sonoma County paintings for the first time.

Have you had the opportunity to go home after being gone for a very long time?

Artist Residency Completed

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Russian River-artist residency

Chalk Hill Russian River, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I spent the last three weeks at an artist residency in Healdsburg, CA. The Chalk Hill Artist Residency is located in the rolling hills of Sonoma County on 250 acres of vineyard. It was a beautiful location and what made it especially lovely for me was that it is about 12 miles from where I grew up.

I stayed in an old 5-bedroom farm house complete with a covered front porch with spectacular views. I also had a large studio that looked out over a nearby pond. Since I was there alone, I had nothing to do but create, walk along the Russian River, read art books look for wildlife and meditate.

My only responsibility was to paint whatever I wanted. I choose to paint the landscape that surrounded me. I had never painted grape vines before or California Oaks. It was enjoyable for me to try to capture them both.

Ann Hart Marquis-Chalk Hill Oak-artist residency

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

There are many artist residency programs available both nationally and internationally. If you ever decide to pursue one, I hope that yours is as meaningful as mine.

Upcoming Artist Residency

In three days I will be leaving for my artist’s residency at Chalk Hill Artist Residency in Healdsburg, CA. The residency is housed on a 250 acre ranch and winery in Sonoma County, 15 miles from where I grew up.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County

Sonoma County is in a beautiful part of the state. It is grape growing country with rolling hills and miles of vineyards. I have very fond memories about the landscape, the feel of the atmosphere and the fragrance of the air.

Chalk Hill

Chalk Hill

My only obligation during the three-week residency is to paint what I want, when I want. I am taking eight medium-sized birch panels and four small canvases. I may finish all of those.

I am already starting to fantasize about what I will be seeing. In this recent painting, I was thinking about what the area may hold for me. I was envisioning green hills, manicured fields and golden poppies.

Ann Hart Marquis-California Deaming-artist residency

California Dreaming, acrylic on canvas, 14x18x.34 inches, 2015. ©Ann Hart Marquis

It will be interesting to see what I will paint first when I get there.

My First Painting

I have gone to France almost every year since 2000. Before that I went to France two times, the first time in about 1985, the second in 1992. Some of my friends and family tell me that I need to get out of my rut and go somewhere else. I usually agree and this year I am going to Italy and France, but I do love being in the rolling hills of the French countryside or exploring in a prehistoric cave, not to mention the freshness of French food. And of course who can’t love Paris, even though Parisians are the ones who have given the French the reputation of being rude. It is really only the waiters.

timothyb.anderson-Roadin southern France

Road in Southern France, 2007. ©Timothy B. Anderson, photographer

Part of my love of France is being able to finally arrive at my final destination, usually now Soréze, after about 20 hours of travel. Once I am in the place I frequently rent, I am there. There is no period of adjustment. I know the roads and the places to go for great food or wonderful scenery. I am comfortable driving and the roads are great and very picturesque. I speak French well enough to get by, and the people are very encouraging and friendly.

Timothy B. Anderson-Soreze, France

Soreze, France, 2009. ©Timothy B. Anderson, photographer

Another reason I love to go to the south of France is that I have always been able to rent a house with a studio. I go there to paint. I first started painting in the small village of Soréze where I attended a painting workshop that emphasized creativity not technique. That was helpful to me because I had no technique at the time. I knew nothing of perspective, color combinations or drawing. I did, however, have a simply glorious time. And I fell in love with painting.

Here is my very first painting.

AnnHartMarquis.My First Painting.

My first painting, (untitled), acrylic on canvas, 2000. ©Ann Hart Marquis

Once I learned to draw, I went back to it and made the table larger so it didn’t look like the vase was going to fall off. It is interesting to me that I already had the palette colors that I use frequently today.




Here is my second painting done at the same workshop.


Ruins, acrylic on canvas, 2000. ©Ann Hart Marquis

We were at a goat farm and were able to wander around the extensive property. I decided to paint part of his decaying three-story home built in the 1800’s. I love this painting because when I Iook at it, I am able to feel for it as I did then. Later that day I asked a French friend why someone would let this once lovely house go to ruin. The answer was a sad history lesson for me. I was told that so many men did not return from World War I and many homes were left to crumble because no one was there to repair them. There were more than 1,357,800 French men killed and most of the fight took place in France.

France has touched my heart in many ways. I cherish it and can’t wait to get there.

How about you? Is there a special place in your heart that you yearn for?

Painting Italy Retreat

In the last part of February, I signed up for a 10-day painting workshop in the middle of Italy near southern Umbria. I was very excited about going to a part of Italy that I have never visited and that was rural and quiet. Previously I have only been to the cities of Florence and Venice, neither rural nor quiet. Last week I found out that the workshop was cancelled due to lack of interested painters. I was disappointed. My personality, however, enjoys a bit of adventure and mystery, so I decided to go by myself and have my own painting Italy retreat. Who knows what I will see and experience and who I will meet.


Landscape of Southern Umbria

I love to be in a part of the world that is not home. Travel pushes my boundaries, although most of the time I love going to France. Sometimes when I travel I feel that I am invisible and totally anonymous. I like that feeling. It gives me a chance to be an observer. When I am away from home no one expects me to check messages, weed the yard or correct homework. Language sometimes becomes simply a musical background. Travel releases my spontaneity. There is a visceral aspect also. I am free to do whatever I want and collect memories to savor and share.

Casperia, Italy

Casperia, Italy

So at the beginning of July I will be taking off for Casperia, Italy. It is about 90 minutes north of Rome, in the territory of Sabina where the valley of Saint Francis of Assisi lies. Casperia is a vehicle-free village of narrow winding streets. It is not a tourist area,  therefore the town, villages and mountains are supposedly unspoilt by heavy traffic and too many people.

I will be staying at  La Torretta, a lovely Bed & Breakfast in the heart of Casperia. Here are a couple of views of my home for 10 days.

La Torretta Living Room

La Torretta Living Room

La Torretta-View from bedroom

La Torretta-View from bedroom





Those of you who know me know that I cannot go to Europe for only 10 days, so when I leave Casperia I will fly across the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean to southwestern France to my familiar village of Sorèze for seven weeks to paint and walk in lovely green hills—a much different experience than being in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Anyone interested in going to Italy?

Why I Paint

When I was a child and while I was in school, I was not one of those children who exhibited a natural talent for drawing, and I didn’t paint. I frequently drew horses because I was one of those horse-crazy girls. I lived in a spectacular setting in northern California so I was surrounded by natural beauty which I deeply appreciated. The first person who introduced me to art was my father. Although he was not an educated man, he loved San Francisco and we would frequently visit the “city.” Those visits almost always included the de Young Museum and the Japanese Tea Gardens. He knew nothing of art, but we would stroll down the corridors of the museum just taking in the beauty and mystery. We never spoke of what we saw there.

Following a French Obsession

Over the years I was seduced by paintings, galleries and art books. Art always intrigued me, but it was not until 2000 while following a French obsession, that I decided to take a painting class in southwestern France. I fell in love as soon as my brush dipped into the paint. Painting then became a consuming passion.

I ran across an article in Fortune magazine (July 22, 2013)  by Michael Moritz titled “Why I Paint.” I appreciate his take on painting. He said, “Painting makes you look at things more intently and best of all, conjures up a time and memory far better than a photograph or postcard. If you look at a painting you made, you will remember the time, the place, weather, the people you were with and the mood of the moment.”


In 2011 I spent the summer painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I had a wonderful time painting with a sister-friend Dr. Gail Suttelle. We painted about 6 hours a day and then attended a critique class. I loved the entire summer including my apartment near Grant Park which had a view of the lake, river and skyscrapers.

Chicago Lakeside

Chicago Lakeside, acrylic on canvas, 21×26. ©2011, Ann Hart Marquis

Chicago River

Chicago River, acrylic on canvas, 21×26. ©2011, Ann Hart Marquis