Tag Archives: painting

Under-Layer Painting

The concept of layers is something that I often think about. For example, people have many layers.  We are complicated. It is what makes us unique and interesting. Layers give each person their own individuality. I also like to think about the layers in my paintings which gives them more depth. I paint landscapes and when I think about them, I focus on the layers such as the earth, hills, rocks, trees and sky. It’s all these layers that give a landscape character and a story.

Under-Layer Painting

It always takes time to build layers regardless of where they originate. In painting, I like to begin with a particular color all over my white canvas. That layer will influence an added layer either directly or indirectly. I frequently can let the under-layer influence the color on top of it or I can let it actually come through the paint.

If I use a blue green tint for the sky, I may use that color other places in the painting, frequently covering most of it with more color. My paintings proceed in this manner.

I take time with my paintings, building up the layers allowing the colors to interact with each other. It gives the work depth and makes it unique. The underlying layers have a chance to come through and influence the scene.

By using the back-end of my brush, I can scratch out one layer to reveal another. These are like the scars in the painting which also tell a story. Or I can incorporate charcoal into an area and then use paint to set it, adding interesting darks to the composition.

Ann Hart Marquis-Vie Une Reve-under-layer painting

Vie-un Rêve (Life-a Dream), acrylic on canvas, 14 x 14 x 1.5, 2012. ©Ann Hart Marquis

My painting,  Vie-un Rêve, is an example of using many layers. It would be very difficult for me to recreate this painting because the individual layers make the painting and help to tell a story.

My First Painting


I have always been enchanted and captivated by art of all kinds.  I am especially drawn to looking at paintings and how they were created. I like to try to imagine the motivation behind a particular painting that I am examining. When I first started painting, I had no idea of motivation or why some artists choose particular subjects to explore. I did not begin to paint seriously until I was an adult. I took my first painting class for two reasons. One, it was taught in France, and two in emphasized creativity, not technique. It was a perfect class for me because I was creative, but had no technique what so ever.

First Attempts

I have read many examples or talked to artists who have purged their first attempts painting. I once went to a workshop where one of the teachers said “If you have paintings in your studio that are not any good, get rid of them, burn them”. I, however, disagree. Yes, I have certainly painted over works that I was never going to be able to fix. But I have kept many of my first and early paintings because they remind me of how hard I was trying to create something, how emotionally involved I was with my subject, or how proud I am that my first attempts.  They were so primitive and amateurish, but I love that I was doing my best. Also, there was already a glimpse of my palette, my technique and the subjects that moved me then and now. Here is an example of one of my very first paintings in France. I love this painting, because I remember where I was while I was painting it, where I was sitting, the fact that I was alone, how I was enchanted with this old ruined house and how much I enjoyed putting paint on canvas.

Soreze Door

Soreze Door, acrylic on canvas, 9×12, ©2000, Ann Hart Marquis


Ruins, acrylic on canvas, 11×14, ©2000, Ann Hart Marquis

This French workshop took place in a medieval village in the southwest of France. There many things calling to be painted. This very old door was one of the last of my paintings on this trip.

After many classes and mentors, and spending time by myself making mistakes on canvas and then realizing how to fix them, I am now a painter, and artist who paints in order to touch that sometimes not so quiet voice in my head.

A Dress for Special Occasions

I find all genres of painting interesting. I am usually attracted to paintings of the natural world that were created by impressionists, expressionists or abstract artists. Sometimes I am drawn to figurative paintings but they don’t particularly move me.


I like some types of surrealism. Some say that Surrealism gets its inspiration from dreams and fantasies that are free from censorship by reason or moral values. I once visited the work of one of the most famous surrealists, Salvador Dalí at his museum in Figueres, Spain. I found myself most attractived to  his early, somewhat realistic work and all of the paintings he did of his wife. I found his more surrealistic work interesting and intellectual but not compelling.

Dorothea Tanning 

Dorothea Tannning

Dorothea Tannning

One of my favorite paintings was done by the painter, Dorothea Tanning in 1942 and is titled, Birthday. She did not like to be defined as a surrealist, but that is how she is usually categorized. I find the painting very compelling, moving and touching. I find her dress to be A Dress for Special Occasions

It is a self-portrait that she did on her 30th birthday. I especially like that she painted it for this particular birthday. When I was younger, I thought that by 30 I would have my life figured out and that I would be content. It took me a few more years after turning 30 to get my act together. In this painting, her face seems to be questioning what and how her life will unfold. She lived until she was 101 years old.

When I look at this painting, I am intrigued by the many layers of imagination involved, both hers and mine. To me it is a perfect painting. I love the composition, colors and the emotion. I am of course drawn to the organic quality of her dress. It is plant-like. I don’t understand all of the painting, especially the black animal-like figure at the bottom right. Still, it inspires me. What is your reaction?

Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning, Birthday