Tag Archives: painting color

Landscape Seascape

Although I have painted many scenes that include lakes and rivers, I have painted very few seascapes or paintings that included the sea. When I was in Ireland, I spent many hours looking at various views of the Atlantic Ocean. In the back of my mind I was frequently thinking about painting a seascape.

Most were from high cliffs looking down at crashing waves hurling themselves into caves and onto rocks. There were a few times when I was on a lovely beach or standing on a small hill looking at a quiet tide.

Regardless of the location, I was fascinated by the continually-varying mood of the water and its great force. I was also intrigued by the ever-changing colors of the sea.

Although I experienced little rain while I was there, I was impressed by the moody skies and how the grey clouds affected the water. Sometimes there was no difference between the colors in the skies and on the water. Sometimes both contained light and dark greys, violets, blues and greens.

alt="Ann Hart Marquis-paining of a seascape and and abstract landscape painting"

Futile the Winds, acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14 x 1.5 inches. Ann hart Marquis

Since I love to play with color, it was my goal in this painting to capture all of the different grays of the sky and water and the vibrancy of the surrounding landscape. The entire painting has many layers of color from bright and light to dark and somber in both the seascape and landscape.

I would love your critique.

My Love Affair with Painting a Pear

showing how painting a pear is done

Pear on the Horizon, acrylic on wood panel, 11×14 inches.

I have a little love affair with painting a pear. It shows up in various places, like teaching for example.

I teach a painting class at the University of New Mexico Continuing Education Department for complete beginners. I teach it every quarter. Because almost all of the students are actually beginners, I start by having them mix colors and I talk about the definition of value. I also have them paint something round to begin their process about shape and perspective.

showing how painting a pear is done

Walnut and Pears, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches.

I frequently choose a pear for them to paint because they are much more interesting than a banana or a melon or a baseball, for example. I like pears because they come in quirky shapes and have lovely “hips” to add interest to a painting, and I always pick a pear with a special stem.

painting a pear in France

French Pears, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches.

This week as always in the class, I start the pear assignment by doing a demonstration of how I paint a pear. It is usually a successful assignment for all students and I think it is a good focus for the first class.

The task includes choosing the complementary color of the pear that I brought. This week the pear was yellow/green and the background was red/violet. It is an easy assignment.

We didn’t have time to finish the background so that was the homework, including home work for me. I am in the middle of another painting, but finishing my pear painting turned into a very relaxed meditation. I have painted many pears, but I especially liked the shape of my drawing. Here is my version of the class assignment:

example of painting a pear for a class

Pear, 9×12 inches, acrylic on canvas board.

Everything felt just right and there was no stress about inspiration like there can be with a series that I am working on. I was just pleasurable. I find that painting things that I have painted before, that I may never sell, is just pure delight.

Isolation Coat for Acrylic Paintings

What is an isolation coat? Traditionally, an isolation coat on a painting is a coat of some kind of gloss medium when you finish a painting. It is transparent and goes between the finished painting and the varnish. It is always a good idea to varnish a finished painting to protect it and add to its longevity.

If being archival is important to you, you can add an isolation coat. If you think that it may not be around for 100 years, you can just varnish it when it has dried completely. This is key because otherwise the varnish will stick to your painting and be a nightmare to try and remove. Varnish is not permanent, it just acts as a dust collector that you can remove and replace, every 10-20 years depending on how dusty the environment your painting is kept in.

Using an Isolation Coat Between Layers

An isolation coat can also be used between layers of paint on a surface. I used several layers of a gloss medium between layers in order to form a barrier so that the next coat of paint can allow you to let whatever you have first put on the canvas remain visible, if that is your plan.

Ann Hart Marquis- an painting describing how to use an isolation coat

A Dream for My Father, acrylic and ink on canvas, 30x30x1 inches.

The basic process is do the underpainting. I like to first add color all over my canvas, do some mark making and random colors, let dry, then lay down a thin layer of acrylic gloss medium. That’s the basic process. In that way, if I am basically creating a blue painting, but I want another color showing through, I can paint over it and leave parts of it showing. Perhaps I originally made a very dark mark and I want it to be almost invisible, I can cover it with the second coat of paint.

In this painting I did about three isolation coats somewhere on the canvas and painted over them. I like the process and the effects it gives me. I think that you can see some of the under-details for yourself.

After it dries for about 2 weeks, I will varnish it.

Evening Painting

If you read my post two weeks ago, you saw how I “fixed” a painting with which I was not satisfied. In all of the years that I have been painting there is at least one painting that I just can’t get right no matter how hard I try and how many coats of paints and glazes I have used to try to get the painting just like I want it—something that I think is a good painting.

I have one of those paintings now. In my post about it, I said, “So now with this painting finished and the others resolved, I seem to be almost ready for the exhibit. I think it is finished, but I have to live with it a while.”

Well, I lived with it for about three days. One of my first thoughts was the name of this painting is Evening and the sky did not reflect an evening sky. It was not an evening painting. Next the forefront of the painting seemed to light.

And then what about that building. It was a dull color. The real building which was my studio was red. It needed to be red.

Ann Hart Marquis--Evening at Chalk Hill-evening painting showing a dark sky and water reflected by light

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

I then painted the sky a violet blue, the studio red (a mixture of cad red light and alizarin crimson) and the foreground darker colors. I also added more reeds in the front, left and made them darker. I didn’t touch the mountains or trees. I did take out the orange-red that was below the trees.

It is now looking good. I think.

Better than two weeks ago. What do you think?

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.

Painting for the Complete Beginner II

Here are some additional paintings from my class at the University of New Mexico, Continuing Education, Painting for the Complete Beginner that ended last week. As you can see the work is quite diverse and quite good for new painters.

Mark Koson Untitled, 2014

African Sculpture. Mark Koson, 2014

Mark Koson Untitled, 2014

Clay Pot. Mark Koson , 2014

All of these paintings were done with the greatest care and diligence. It was such a pleasure to see students learn beginning techniques and then to create such interesting and inspiring pieces. I hope that they all continue with their painting experience. They  should. There certainly was talent in the group.

Vanessa Gonzales, Untitled

Mac. Vanessa Gonzales, 2014


Gone But Not Forgotten, Linda Faust

Twin Towers, Gone But Not Forgotten. Linda Faust, 2014

Crow, Jane Nelson, 2014

Crow. Jane Nelson, 2014

Untitled, David Robbins, 2014

Untitled. David Robbins, 2014

My next class starts the first Thursday in June and I get to experience the fun of playing with color and shape again with many more hard-working artists.

Putting Paint on Canvas

Cyprus, day 1,  underpainting

Cyprus, day 1, underpainting

My painting process is usually one of layering paint on the canvas in a darker hue than is going to be seen in the finished painting. Parts of this original paint may be seen in very small areas of color on the finished painting or the color may influence the color layered on top of it, but that is what I am going for. The composition is only partial at this time. Here is an example of a painting after the original colors were put on the canvas.

The second putting paint on canvas process is to complete the composition and to start adding lighter and less intense tints, tones, and shades of color. Here is how the second layering process continued.

Cyprus, 2nd layer

Cyprus, 2nd layer

Notice that I added texture to the paint and changed the color and intensity of the sky for the second layer.





The final layer included extending the trunks, adding even more texture, adding highlights and generally adding tints to pop the color more.


Here is the last layer and perhaps the finished painting. I generally need to live with piece for a week or longer before I sign it and call it good.

Cyprus, complete

Cyprus, complete






I don’t have a title yet for this painting of French Cyprus trees. Any suggestions?

Red Moon

As I described in my last blog, I like to think of myself as an artist and an environmentalist. My hope is that in some small way my art will help bring attention to the state of our natural world. I am not interested in painting the destruction that is present around the planet. I want to capture the beauty that exists even in unlikely places.

Sometimes the reality of our environmental changes is difficult to ignore. Reality “comes on little cat feet” or sometimes comes in huge boots dragging almost too much destruction for our consciousness to deal with. I live in New Mexico where we have been experiencing a severe drought that has been going on for years. The fire warnings are always HIGH. Drought is no less devastating than unusually severe rain and snow storms—it just takes a little longer. I am not a poet, but I wrote this poem two years ago as an enormous forest fire in Arizona crossed into New Mexico.

Red Moon

Road Home, Summer, acrylic on canvas, 2009, ©Ann Hart Marquis

Road Home, Summer, acrylic on canvas, 2009, ©Ann Hart Marquis

The moon is red-orange tonight
like a lovely slice of Georgia peach, no longer its glistening blue, cool, silvery self.
A ravenous fire burns west of here heading this way,
sending its message in odious grey smoke.
Small flakes of black charcoal settle on the white of my perfectly unsoiled, spotless canvas.

I do not want to paint the moon tonight or try to capture the brittleness of dry parched air.
I do not want to paint in colors of
cadmium red, grey, black.
I do not want to think about desert wildfires or the disappearing rain forests.
I want to think about mauve, lime green, cerulean blue.

That’s the problem isn’t it?