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. In 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.
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.
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.
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.