Mostly it is out of Jealousy, Hope, and my own amusement.
Jealous I am of almost everyone else who does this. They teach me this or that and I can then do something that seemed impossible before.
Hope I have that somewhere, sometime something remarkable will come from my own hand. Not because of any talent (I don’t believe in it), but simply because I “want to” so badly.
Amazement is ever with me for the relaxation of this work even if some of the result ends up being scrap. I learn from my scrap and am not discouraged by it nor embarrassed by its existence.
I was always a doodler. I loved drafting and art class but never did much with it till I was well into adulthood. I worked for a company who was going out of the Art Supply Business and got a bunch of Grumbacher acrylic paint and some canvases on close-out and copied some paintings I rented from our library.
I found that painting was very soothing to me as opposed to my busy business life. I was always embarrassed for anyone but my wife to see my work.
As I got older I took some drawing classes at a local college and then a Watercolor class at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. The instructor, Nancy Carney suggested I join the local Minnesota Watercolor Society. I went to a meeting and found mostly women painting flowers... orchids and lilies and such. Nothing I was interested in.
BUT... they were so friendly and helpful that I went again and this time I brought a painting I had struggled with because it had old worn-out blue jeans in close-up and I simply couldn’t get the image to look right. A woman named Marrian Alstad loved the painting and simply said... “Gary, you’ve painted the jeans, now you just have to wear them out!” She suggested taking a serrated knife and scrubbing the paper wherever the thread- worn areas were on the pants. Here is the painting.
Although everyone loved the realism of it, I disliked it because the works of Claude Monet, Matise, Gauguin , Manet, Van Gogh, and all the great impressionists were what create my concept of art and the idea of doing “loose” impressionistic work in WATERCOLOR was a challenge I loved to think about.
And so it began. My family and my grandkids were encouraging and when the grandkids each got over 2 years old, I started a tradition called Grandpa-and-me Days!. I would take one child at a time and spend a day painting with him or her and ending the day with a visit to the Minneapolis Art Institute or the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and we’d enjoy the classic works, especially the impressionist’s work. The Monet Hey Stacks, the Van Gogh Olive Trees, so many wonderful priceless works. We’d take drawing materials with us and draw our favorite exhibit. The oldest is in College now and still has her Grandpa and Me days every year. In this site I have shown some of their work which, although coached by me, is painted by them primarily. I hold a hand, remove a boo-boo and help with the drawing to start, but they did the paintings. They and I love it.
One day my daughter was in college and the Alumni Director at the college (where my wife and I both graduated) was visiting our home and saw some of my paintings. He asked if I’d paint a piece with the “Old Main” building from campus for their annual fund-raising auction for scholarships. I did a full-sheet (first time at that size) and didn’t like it when I finished. I then put a Pompeii red-ish wash over the building and it just popped. I framed it and took it to the auction insisting that it be in the “Silent Auction” as I was afraid it wouldn’t do well and someone would gasp out “I’ll give you Ten Bucks” for it. I was very nervous.
As the night went on, many things were live-auctioned and after a couple hours my daughter came up and said “No one had bid on your painting Dad!” I went over to the table and it had been moved to the LIVE AUCTION. I was horrified and went to the director and pleaded with him to remove it. He said a number of people were very interested and it was staying in the live auction.
When it finally came up the started the bidding at $150. No one raised their hand. He reduced it to $100, then said “Hey, we don’t care where we start, its where we end up that’s important. So someone bid $50. Then $70-80-100-125-150-200-250-350-500- and so on till it finally sold for $1180. My family was in tears and I couldn’t believe it. The last two bidders just wouldn’t give up. I turned to my wife and daughter and said, “well, I guess I’m an Artist”.
My journey has taken me across America painting whenever I can on the road, we have visited France where I do en plein air painting every day we are there and love it, especially in Brittany.
Since then I’ve attended many workshops with really fine watercolor artists like Andy Evensen, David Smith, Chun Ke Che, many on-line workshops with fantastic artists and have put on watercolor sessions (some lasting a week) in elementary schools, business retreats and taught many kids and adults in private lessons. I have developed nice friendships with artists I’ve met here, like Andy Evensen, Nancy Carney, Marian Alstad and David Smith and in France with Michelle Dupuy and an American I met there named Jan Jewell.
I feel I connect really well with kids because of my experience with my grandkids. I love teaching an adult who feels they have NO ARTISTIC TALENT AT ALL and teach them to amaze themselves with just a couple hours of messing around with paper, pigment, water and gravity.
The poetry came on about the same time. Many of which are displayed in the website. I got blank books from my grandkids to sketch in and I just started filling them up with poems and doodle-sketches. I now have loads of them. Some are just nothing and some I think are really great. “I remember being born”, Give Cross-winds The Slip” and “There’s A Big Bunch Of Geese On Kubalak’s Beach” are some of my favorites.
So now I’m in my early 70’s, healthy, energetic, and motivated to leave these marks for my grandkids to have and great-grandkids to inherit. I have a fantastic studio space in my home and plenty of time to work on it all and of course golf all summer.
I do sell my work and many of the pieces on my site are in the hands of others already, but they are good examples of what I’ve done so I continue to show them. I can repeat pretty much any of them and have done so in the past.
I use 300# Arches or better paper, only top-grade paints and typically leave a white border around the works for framing flexibility. I don’t frame the works and I don’t sell nor allow duplicate prints by any means.
I am a member of the Minnesota Watercolor Society, the American Watercolor Society, and the Plein Air Panters Association.
If anyone visiting my site would like to purchase any of my works, please just email me and identify which piece you’re interested in and I will let you know the cost. Some of the ones displayed have been sold but I show them anyway as examples of my work and I often just paint it again.
Mostly, I would like my friends and family to have a place to go to see what I’m creating and enjoy this example of “you can do anything you put your mind to”. I know very little about my grandparents and nothing of my great-grandparents. I imagine my great-great-grandchildren going through them and getting some idea of what their ancestor was like.
So have at it folks and let me know what you like. Please don’t tell me what you don’t like, there’s something for everyone here.
Gary Lee Marquardt
All Original Watercolors by Gary Marquardt are Copyright protected. Purchasing a painting allows you to own the original painting. Owners of the painting may not reproduce, distribute or sell the image without express written consent of the artist. . A digital image of it may be posted on personal media sites as long as attribution to the artist is clearly stated.