GUEST ARTIST: “Following Your Heart” By Renee Marks

Destiny Young Girld Watercolor Painting Renee Marks

My name is Renee Marks, and I am a watercolorist and all these paintings are transparent watercolor. I was born in 1954 and grew up in the country part of the Willamette Valley in Northwestern Oregon, USA.  My parents married as teenagers and being the 2nd child of 5 children, it was a busy hard life with barely enough money to survive. Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, even at age three, my answer was a definite and quick, “I want to be an Artist! To me, that meant painting pictures of the things I loved the most.

I didn’t always have a paper or pencils on hand before grade school and drew on my bedroom wall. My mom made me scrub the wall all day long. My Gran however asked me why I drew on the wall instead of paper. I told her I had no paper. She felt sorry for me and brought me a huge news print roll and had my mom tape it on the wall so I could draw to my hearts content. Steam Engine Train Watercolor Painting Renee MarksIn grade school my teachers were usually dismayed at all the pictures I drew on the corners of my school assignments. My tablet that should have been full of school work was full of drawings of mostly people.  I continued to draw for the next 10 years until I was able to get a true likeness of my subjects.  But even now, I still enjoy creating my own imaginary people. Those I have never seen before.

Before I was old enough to start high school, my parents divorced.  It was a painful ordeal to see my father go, but I was so very excited to start high school.  I thought that, at least, I could have a painting class.  At least that was something to look forward to.

Oil painting was the only option, and I eagerly signed up. But within the first week I learned that the cost of supplies were out of reach for me. My stomach went into knots because I knew there was no hope.  There was no way to pay for it.  That did not hurt half as much as the requirement to build a frame and stretch a canvas over it.  When the teacher said, “I assume you all have a father with tools or someone in the family tools to help with this.” It was all I could do to blink back my tears. I had no one. My father had moved over 286 miles away and took all his tools. My mother was suffering some health issues.

I  moved a year later to live with my Dad and started a new high school, but I still never took an art class. I had just given up, not wanting to ask anyone for money. Yet, I had a reputation at school for being able to draw just about anything and as a sophomore I was asked by the art class students and teacher to create a huge blue rose for the backdrop for the Senior class Graduation. They were asked to do it and agreed, then realized no one in the class could do it.  They were afraid to even try,  so they found me after school to drag me to the art room and begged me for help.

Train Watercolor Painting Renee Marks

I did it after school hours with pastels and the art class was thanked by the Principal during the graduation ceremony for creating the most beautiful blue rose for the backdrop. Not me, because he didn’t know. I did’t care. I knew I did it, and so did the art students that asked for my help. I was surprised that they took full credit though.

Years later, while raising my children, I had plenty of money to take classes, but I still never took a painting class.  I felt somehow that it was not meant to be because if it was, I would have found a way during school.  Whenever those urges came, I suppressed it. I eventually went through divorce and widowhood and thought that my chance to paint was over.

People Watercolor Painting Renee Marks

This all changed when I was 54 and my children were all grown. My husband of 5 years took me into an art store with him. It was not planned, just an impulse. My heart pounded in excitement the moment I lifted a brush in my hand and stared at it. That same feeling I had as a child when I first held a brush in my hand from a cheep little tin watercolor set.

The art store owner must have seen the look on my face  and told me about a watercolor workshop class coming up. I suddenly felt sad and said, no.  I wasn’t sure I could because I had never taken a painting class before. Then my husband said, Why not? With his love and support, the support I had never had before, it really changed my life.

Rose Watercolor Painting Renee Marks

I enjoy painting both realism and impressionism. I try not to be photo realistic because I want my work to look more like a painting. Not a photo. I had first become a student of Jo-Neal Boic for 3 days, Tom Lynch for 3 days and Susan Harrison-Tustain for 5 days.  I have  been painting since that special day when my husband took me into that art store in Port Townsend WA, March of 2008.

I now live in Eastern Oregon with my husband Kory and even though I’m retired from painting commissions, I paint for my own therapy now.

Renee Marks
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17 Comments
  1. Kim Houston Hyman 4 months ago

    I love your work and your inspirational story.

  2. Loan Anh Pham 4 months ago

    Your story bring tears to me, it made me thinking about ‘yesterday’. I used to stop my favorite art work since I left my high school, I didn’t dare to interest in about it. Now I’ve walk into my color world again, I can’t stand waiting for painting any second. I love your paintings.

  3. Karen Fortier 4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so happy you found someone that gave you the support you needed. Your work is fantastic!

  4. Laura Hale 4 months ago

    Renee, your beautiful art reflects the beautiful artist who created it! Thank you for sharing your journey, and give that wonderful husband a big hug from all of us who enjoy seeing your work.

  5. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    Hello, fellow Oregonian! You’re work is so beautiful. Your rose really blew me away! Thank you for sharing your artisitic journey with us!

  6. Robert J. Coleman 4 months ago

    Renee, your command of watercolor makes it look like you have been painting since the age of two! Such intensity and blending in your portraits, the babies are wonderful. And what a difference a supportive partner makes – thank God you met your Kory. It’s great to see your work on Doodlewash.

  7. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 4 months ago

    Greetings Renee, It was so lovely to learn your story and to see your wonderful art. bliss to you always 🙂

  8. Jean Marmo 4 months ago

    Such beautiful pieces! Your story is a wonderful read. You are truly a special artist!

  9. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Lovely work and story. Thanks.

  10. LoriCtoo 4 months ago

    Lucky for the world, you picked up that brush and had the support to follow through! Your work is beautiful. So soft and calming. Thank you for sharing your story, fellow Oregonian! 😉

  11. Stan Lawrence 4 months ago

    Amazing art work! Love your life story, because I too wanted to be an artist, but was not encouraged very much, if at all!

  12. Susan 4 months ago

    You knew as a child the correct path to follow. You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work and story.

  13. Stephanie Louise 4 months ago

    I love your paintings. Your artworks are very attractive.

  14. Sweetu Rocks 3 months ago

    Nice post 😃✌

  15. Sweetu Rocks 3 months ago

    I am your new follower 🙋 and reader 🙆

  16. Zertab Quaderi 1 month ago

    Your story is really touching. Your paintings are beautiful beyond words. Please keep sharing your work with us.

  17. Jennifer 1 month ago

    This looks like oil paint, it is so pigmented and vibrant. How absolutely gorgeous!!!!! Such amazing talent.

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