Tag Archives: Gail Suttelle

The Art of Abstraction

When looking at any artwork, most people’s first thought or question may be, “What is this about?” That’s a good place to start, but it won’t take us very far when looking at an abstract work—unless we are willing to think more creatively. With abstract painting, sculpture, and photography the piece can be about the using particular materials, mood, emotion, color, shape, to name only a few examples.

annhartmarquis-Hatitian,Sacha Thebaud,1941

Haitian, Sacha Thebaud, 1941.


Dream of Home, oil on canvas, 36″x36″, ©2011, Gail Suttelle

In abstract art, the artist frequently uses a visual language of shapes, forms, lines and colors to interpret a subject, without necessarily providing the viewer with an unidentifiable visual image.

This is very different than traditional forms of art which set out to present a literal and more representational view of a subject and which relates to reality in some way.


Albuquerque Railyards #9842, ©2011, Tim Anderson photographer

Some say that abstract art engages and challenges the mind but it can also engage and challenge the emotions. To fully appreciate it, most of the time the viewer has to let go of a need to understand what the artist is trying to say and instead tune into their own feeling response to the piece.

The beginning of abstract art is usually assigned to the Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944).


Conversation IV, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911.


Kandinsky believed that colors provoke emotions. Red was lively and confident; Green was peaceful with inner strength; Blue was deep and supernatural; Yellow could be warm, exciting, disturbing.

If you have not spent time with the art of abstraction, investigate a little a see what you think. I have not spent a lot of time with abstract art. I have done a few pieces and found the process to be very interesting and somewhat intriguing.


Daydreaming, oil on canvas, 8×10, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

How about you?

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