Tag Archives: artist retreat

Finishing a Painting

Last summer, I spent three weeks in June at an artist residency in Sonoma County, California. During that time I painted seven paintings that I considered finished when I left and one that I knew was incomplete. My task, finishing a painting.

Because I got off on another painting tangent, I have not paid much attention to that series. I have been recently been asked to hang 7-10 paintings for the New Mexico Cancer Center Foundation Annual art exhibit in March. My summer series seemed perfect for that exhibit, so I took a long look at them again, and decided to complete the one that I had not finished.

Here is how it looked when I left California. It needed a lot of help.

Evening #1

Evening #1

Here is how it looked after working on it for several hours.

Evening #2

Evening #2

And here is how it looks for now. I think it is finished, but I have to live with it a while.

Ann Hart Marquis-Evening at Chalk Hill- finishing a painting

Evening at Chalk Hill, acrylic and ink on birch wood panel, 18 x 24 1.5 inches.

After working on this, I started to look at the remaining paintings. I really liked three of them, but the others I thought needed a touch-up here and there. I painted these paintings almost eight months ago. During that time my painting style has evolved. I have some paintings or have sold some paintings that I still would not change a brush stroke. It seems to be an arbitrary arrangement for me.

So now with this painting finished and the others resolved, I seem to be almost ready for the exhibit. But it is almost three months from now. Where will I be then?

Limited Palette With Red, Blue and Yellow

Sometimes when we first learn to paint, it is suggested that we use a limited palette of three primary colors—red, yellow and blue. Some teachers think that limiting oneself to just a few colors teaches us how to mix colors correctly, see value and temperature, and encourages thought and planning in our color choices.

Besides making it easier to learn about color temperatures, using a limited color palette offers more color harmony, the ability to make grays without the muddiness and less confusion because of fewer color choices. I have painted with a limited palette before and I have always liked the feeling of just using a few colors.

Colors in a limited palette can still be warmer or cooler in relation to other colors. Since the eye adjusts to what it looks at, it doesn’t feel as though any colors are missing. There are cool and warm reds, cool and warm yellows and so on. Here is the first on that I created:

Ann Hart Marquis-limited palette

Red, Blue, Yellow, Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Last week during an artist retreat, we experimented using only red, yellow and blue and white and black. The object was to create different tints, tones and shades of the 3 colors. It was interesting and fun for me to play and to see if I could easily come up with complementary color combinations or triad color combinations.

Ann Hart Marquis-limited palette

Red, Blue, Yellow #2, ,Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Ann Hart Marquis-Red, limited palette

Red, Blue, Yellow #3, ,Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Artist Retreat

This past week I spent 4 days in Phoenix playing with paint and experimenting with new surfaces. The occasion was an artist retreat with fellow artists that I painted with at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the summer of 2011.

The first day we experimented with a technique that called for a first layer of acrylic paint on any gessoed surface, then an isolation layer followed a top layer of paint. Each layer needed to dry before adding the next layer. We only used red, yellow and blue paint.  I enjoyed the process. Here are 2 examples:

Ann Hart Marquis-artist retreat

Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Acrylic on paper, Lorna Filipinni-Mulliken

Acrylic on paper, Lorna Filipinni-Mulliken

On the second day we experimented with Yupo paper and light molding paste. Yupo paper is the 100% recyclable, waterproof, tree-free synthetic paper.  It is super-smooth, bright white and durable. Here are some of our Yupo pieces:

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Diane Huff

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Diane Huff

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Ann Hart Marquis-yupo

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Ann Hart Marquis

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Gail Suttelle

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Gail Suttelle

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Connie Hoogerland

Acrylic on Yupo paper, 13 x 20 inches, Connie Hoogerland

Light molding paste dries to an opaque, matte finish. It is designed to hold stiff peaks for highly textured surfaces and it blends easily with colors. Molding paste can also be used to create foundations for painting either to create texture over a smoother surface, or to smooth out a textured surface.

The last day we reconvened and made more interesting creations, each of us choosing what interested us. It was a wonderful get-away and we plan to do it again, perhaps in Chicago.


Dancing on My Canvas

Guest Post by Sylvia Lippmann

I’m not entirely sure what made me write a note to Ann after 40 years of making excuses not to paint. Perhaps it was the fact that my best friend, Dotty, had a personal connection to Ann. Or maybe the upheavals of mid-life had made me acutely aware that life is too brief and precious to ignore things you love. Whatever the reason, the yearning to paint again had become so strong, that I could no longer ignore the inner voice urging me to reconnect with my creative self.

Sylvia Lippmann. 1999

Sylvia Lippmann, 2009

I found myself pulling up Ann’s website over and over again, until I suddenly felt compelled to take action. Silencing my doubts, I dashed off an email.

Hi Ann, Dotty is one of my oldest, dearest friends, and she introduced me to your work. I am mesmerized by your paintings and would love to be a student of yours. I read on your blog that you recently taught a class of beginners. Although I took a few painting classes in college, I have hardly painted since then. However, at the age of 62, painting is calling to me again. I don’t usually write notes like this (!), but I was pulled to make contact with you.

Much to my delight, Ann responded immediately. Within a week, we had arranged for her to fly to Chicago for some private instruction. As soon as Dotty heard about my upcoming adventure, she decided to join us! The morning after Ann and Dotty arrived, we sat at my kitchen table to plan our “retreat,” as we began calling our time together.

Sylvia Lippmann 1999-2

Sylvia Lippmann, 2009

Every fantasy I ever had about participating in an artists’ retreat was realized! We started each day with a long walk, followed by a healthy breakfast. We then spent the morning painting, with Ann instructing, encouraging, providing feedback, and painting beside us. After lunch, we painted for several more hours, before we each withdrew to a quiet place to meditate.

Refreshed, we painted for a little longer before eating a dinner. Our after-dinner conversation revolved around art and painting and all the other topics women in mid-life talk about. We then went to bed tired, and often over-stimulated!

So, how can I describe what it was like to reconnect with my artistic soul? When I first picked up the paint brush, I felt a little nervous, unsure, rusty. Slowly, old memories started to kick in. My hand remembered how to hold the paintbrush. The experience of applying wet, thick paint to canvas suddenly felt familiar and joyful. My mind swung between over-thinking each color choice to being completely silent. Then came waves of total absorption. Time and place fell away. Nothing mattered except giving free reign to the creative impulse arising inside me. The brush strokes and colors beckoned, and I followed. My body, mind, and spirit danced together on that first canvas.

By the end of the weekend, I was filled with gratitude. I silently thanked myself for the gift of uninterrupted time to paint. I openly thanked Ann and Dotty for their wisdom, support, and companionship. It was wonderful creating beautiful works of art together, but even more wonderful creating sacred space and time in which art could emerge.

Red Tree in Summer-Sylvia-Lippmann, completed

Red Tree in Summer. Sylvia-Lippmann, 2014, completed

SylviaLippmann-Red Tree in Summer

Red Tree in Summer. Sylvia Lippmann, 2014, in process

Moving forward, I know it will be challenging to make painting a priority in my busy life. However, I know I am worth the time it takes to create. The sweetness of our retreat is imprinted on my soul, and no excuses will do.