Tag Archives: Art Institute of Chicago

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

The Inspiration for Boat House

When a person or a family buys one of my paintings they seem to be satisfied with the image that I created. Just before my exhibit at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico this year, however, a family from Massachusetts bought Boat House. Unlike many of my collectors, they were very curious about my process and the thoughts that lead me to paint it. The questions went like this.

What drew you to paint it?  During the summer of 2011, I attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). While there, I went on an architectural boat tour. I did some sketches of various things along the river and some were turned into paintings in Chicago. I didn’t do anything with the boat houses while I was in Chicago. I started working on Boat House after going back and looking at some old sketches in the fall 2012. I was into doing abstract landscapes at the time, so I didn’t want to do a city scene, but I liked one sketch that I had. So I took an old boat house, probably built in the 1940’s and revisualized it out of the city, all by itself near a body of water. I had no particular body of water in my mind. Most of the painting is representational. The colors in the painting are somewhat representative of my particular palette.

So let’s say that I started it in November, 2012. I rarely keep track of what I do to my paintings because sometimes I work on them more than once and add various layers of paint. I did a very rough sketch on the canvas and just started painting and adding a few more touches or layers of paint. I actually may not have finished Boat House until January, 2013.

Boat House

Boat House, acrylic on canvas, 20×24, ©2012, Ann Hart Marquis

What are the names of the colors you used?  This is tough. I usually start with 3 or 4 colors (frequently called hues by painters) once I have a piece in mind. I almost always use tints (white added), tones (white and black added) or shades (black + color). I also frequently add the complement of a particular color to lessen the intensity. I mix many of my colors and rarely use paint right out of the tube. So first, I chose phthalo green, yellow ochre, cadmium red light and cobalt blue. The river water is layers of yellow ochre, phthalo green, and cobalt blue. When I put cobalt blue on top of phthalo green, the cobalt blue took on a violet glow. The left side of the house is alizarin crimson and the right is cadmium red light. The sky is cerulean blue and the ocean, lake, (body of water), is cobalt blue. I think you may be able to see most of these colors in the rocks of the right. As you can see I didn’t stay with my original palette

Where did you paint Boat House?  In my studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Thank you Dotty and Dave for asking.