The Next Level

I have been painting for almost 15 years. When I started with my first workshop in France, I had no painting or drawing experience or skills. I was drawn to art at a young age, but I did not know I wanted to be an artist or that one day I would be painting. I had no innate artistic skills.

When I came home from that workshop in France with 10 days of painting experience, I knew that if I wanted to keep painting, which I did. I needed many hours, or perhaps years would be a better description, to develop into the kind of artist that I wanted to be.

Ann Hart Marquis,Looking at France, acrylic

Looking at France, acrylic on canvas, 11×14 inches, 2001. ©Ann hart Marquis

Since the beginning I have wanted to go to the “next level,” regardless of what that level would entail. I have never gotten over that feeling that I could do better or that I need and want to move on to something better.

For me going on to the next level means an effort to conceive new concepts and new ways of expressing them. It requires letting go of attitudes and frequently how I did things in the past.

Ann Hart Marquis-Red Chair, acrylic

Red Chair, acrylic on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2009. © Ann hart Marquis

In the past I have painted trees, fruit, chairs, jungle scenes, cities, landscapes and myself. In other words, I have been drawn to paint many different tableaus in many different techniques. Now I am asking myself what is it that I really want to paint, how I want to paint it and why.


Sunflowers, acrylic on canvas, 14×14 inches, ©Ann Hart Marquis, Available

Recently, I came across an article in LensWork magazine by Guy Tal, a photographer. “Where the aesthetic appeal of an image is determined by what is in the frame, the significance of an image is determined by why it is in the frame,” he wrote.

Tal also suggests that an artist does not make art of things, but rather about things. If that is the case, the next level for me may be to step off into the world of abstract art.

Mayo #2, Rebbeca Crowell

Mayo #2, oil on canvas, 16×20 inches, 2013. © Rebecca Crowell


6 thoughts on “The Next Level

  1. Brenda Chamberlain

    You’ve been on quite a journey, Ann and painted a variety of subjects. It appears that abstracts may be the obvious next step. I really like Mayo #2 – it’s interesting. You’ll be great at painting abstracts, Ann. I’ll look forward to seeing them.

  2. Sylvia

    I’m so glad you wrote about this topic. I often think about the “why” of art, more so than the “how” of art. I like the way you’ve articulated these issues. On the surface, it seems like abstract art should be easier than representative art. But, now that I’ve been painting again, I’m realizing that abstract art is actually more difficult, and involves different kinds of choices and thinking. I guess it’s not surprising that many artists move from realistic to more abstract work. I recently read that Milton Avery’s work evolved from depicting specific, localized images (for example, a specific person or beach) to universal images (maternal images; eternal themes in nature). I love how he began to simplify his forms, paring images down to their essence. Ann, maybe you can teach a course about transitioning into abstract art. I’d be the first to sign up!

    1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

      I am so glad that you responded to this topic. I love your comment. I frequently struggle with what I am going to paint next and how it could be meaningful to me and others. There are/were so many artists that started painting in a representation style and then evolved to be totally abstract. Milton Avery is a great example, as are Kandinsky, Picasso, even Diebenkorn to some extent. I also like the idea of simple forms and expressive color. I have read that to be a good abstract painter that you first have to be a good representational painter. I think that idea has some weight to it. Before I can teach a course about transitioning into abstract art, I think that I will have to take a few classes in abstract art myself.

      1. maria pietri lalor

        A journey indeed, a journey each painter enter with enthusiasm and anguish, I can add one comment to the ones already posted I will say that abstract can be a slippery slope,it is always a balance between subject and technic/medium, in abstract medium have often the tendency to become overbearing and the paintings become gimmicky, the heart is forgotten, it takes a strong painter to stay true to what must come out but I am sure you will keep your integrity even in abstract.A fair amount of painter have done the reverse journey from abstract to representational as well, they were on the abstract side of the fence as it was trendy in their time and had the courage to go towards representation, I am thinking of Joan Brown in particular….Have fun, it does not matter really what we are painting what matters is that we paint, Maria

        1. Ann Hart Marquis Post author

          Thank you for commenting Maria. It is indeed a journey no matter which direction one’s art takes. I have been looking at abstract art lately, but I am still in the middle of some transition and I do not know where I will end up. I agree–it does not matter really what we are painting what, matters is that we paint.


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