Tag Archives: perspective

Working With a Horizon Line

Winter is almost over and here in New Mexico, trees and plants are starting to pop with color. Instead of browns and greys in the landscape I am starting to see a few patches of green, orange and even yellow all over the scenery.

Here is another painting that I just completed using a rather limited palette of raw sienna, cobalt blue and red oxide. This combination allowed me to mix interesting pinks, greens and oranges. Once again I have painted a high horizon line. I am still somewhat preoccupied with the horizon line.

Ann Hart Marquis-New Mexico Winter #5-horizon line

New Mexico Winter #5, acrylic on paper,10 x 3 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

Horizon Line

The horizon line is thought to be one of the foremost visual components or clues of perspective in a landscape. It’s the thing we immediately use to interpret the perspective in a painting we are viewing. We do it almost instinctively.

So if the horizon line is too high or low in a painting we lose the brain’s ability to interpret and perceive perspective. Instead, the viewer has to first struggle to deal with where the horizon line is, to see it for what it is and put it in relation with everything else in the composition.

Too high a horizon line, with only a tiny sliver above it and the brain won’t instantly register that area as sky. If it is too low, the sliver below the horizon risks not being perceived as land.

In most cases, a low horizon line works for emphasis on the sky. A high horizon line emphasizes the landscape.

In any case, I hope to be able to abstract the horizon line more in the future.

Perspective and Inspiration

Tomorrow will be my last day in Soréze. This past week has taken a burst of energy to finish one more painting, walk around Lake St. Ferreol as many times as possible, find everything that I have scattered around this big house and pack.

Soreze, France

Soréze, France

I have painted as much as I can, gone all of the places that I wanted to visit, and eaten all the yummy food that I wanted. I have walked almost every day and now I need a new pair of shoes. It is time to come home, which I always do with mixed feelings when I leave France. I come to this area and stay so long because I love everything, including having the opportunity to paint at all hours of the day and night.

Traveling gives me new perspective and inspiration. While I have been here, I have experienced a desire to change the way I paint to a more abstract manner, and I have. Here is painting #8.

Untitled #8, acrylic on canvas, 14 x14 inches. Ann Hart Marquis

Untitled #8, acrylic on canvas, 14×14-inches. ©Ann Hart Marquis

I feel that my work is moving quickly in a new direction and I am not sure where that will take me. I have found a painter in Ireland who does abstract landscape workshops, so maybe I will go there next year. If I do, I will probably need to visit briefly in France.

My Brain and Precision

I love to paint nature: landscapes, trees, bodies of water. Sometimes the places that I paint have depicted were I was standing and what I was looking at in that moment. Perhaps I was standing in a beautiful field in France or looking up at red rocks in New Mexico. Frequently, however, I like to imagine a scene and I just start painting and see where it takes me. I like the idea of not knowing exactly what my final painting will look like. Like this one for example:

AnnHartMarquis-Hill House

Hill House, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

Occasionally, however, my brain seems to be drawn to painting a particular scene or object that is a drawing challenge for me, requiring that I draw and paint with precision that includes very accurate perspective, dimensions, and detail, for example the foreshortening of arms on a chair. The first time I had this desire to paint something that would be a challenge for me was in France when one night there was no scenery to inspire me. I felt like painting, but I had run out of ideas.

I began wandering around the very old house that I was staying in and looking  at some old French furniture. I was drawn to a particular chair that seemed like it may be interesting to pursue.

Indeed it was. It was somewhat early in my art pursuit, and I had never thought myself capable of drawing anything realistically. It took about four days of getting the legs to match and to get the arms the correct length, but my brain loved the thought process and the problem solving. Pictured is my first chair. Then I had to do another. After the second chair I was finished with my brain exercises for the time being.


AnnHartMarquis-Green Chair

Green Chair, acrylic on canvas,16×20-inches, ©2008, Ann Hart Marquis (first chair)


Red Chair, acrylic on canvas, 16×20-inches, ©2008, Ann Hart Marquis

My next venture into more precise detail came a few years later with this kitchen scene.

AnnHartMarquis-French Kitchen

French Kitchen, acrylic on canvas, 16×20-inches, ©2009, Ann Hart Marquis

I have been painting quite loosely for a while now, but I am feeling that the old pull to be more exact may be coming soon. How about you? Are you drawn to the looseness of an image or more toward realistic work?