Open Studios Profile: Denise Natanson-Marcus

Only a few more days until the second weekend of Silicon Valley Open Studios. I hope to see you there. I think you’d enjoy seeing the many artists exhibiting in Los Altos.

Today please meet Denise Natanson-Marcus. Denise paints landscapes: lovely little jewels and great big grand canvases. The first time I saw her work exhibited, I enjoyed the sense of place she brings to her work, and especially her paintings of California, in which she has so well captured the baked dry hills of autumn and the cool shade of the our forests.

Bolinas Lagoon 10" x 20" Oil on canvas © Denise Natanson-Marcus
Bolinas Lagoon
10″ x 20″ oil on canvas
© 2014 Denise Natanson-Marcus

Describe your artistic journey

I have always drawn and painted since childhood.  I minored in art at university, as my parents wanted me to get a science degree. After getting a B.S. in Psychology, I went to Boston University School of Fine Arts and received a classical art education. During this time, I learned to meditate, which has helped me immensely in my life.  My life since has been about painting and meditation. I have taught meditation for many decades and have shown my art in various galleries and shows throughout the years. I have taught art in the schools for 11 years while my kids were in school.  I am currently enjoying a period of delving deeper into my plein air painting.  Is my science degree wasted? No, I also work at Kaiser part-time, as a health educator, teaching meditation and stress management.

Where has art taken you in life?

Art is a form of meditation for me. I paint landscapes, and I love to paint outdoors; it is a way to commune with and look more deeply into nature and love nature more dearly.  Art has taken me to Santa Fe, where I showed my art for sometime; to the East coast, where I studied with the great colorist  Henry Hensche; to many museums around America and Europe; and to painters’ studios and museums in Bali, which has a fantastic art style and history. Whether looking at art or doing art, it brings me into balance and harmony in my life. It’s a way to connect with other cultures in a universal language.

Foothill Park Oil on canvas © Denise Natanson-Marcus
Foothill Park
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas
© 2014 Denise Natanson-Marcus

What do you think about when you begin a painting?

I think about composition first.  What will make the scene before me look dynamic, move the viewers’ eye and draw the viewer in? What do I see before me that is inspiring me to paint this scene and how can I make the viewer see that too?

Tell me about one of your favorite paintings or drawings that you’ve made. Why is it your favorite?

Many times, my favorite is my most recent, but there are a few I will not sell because I’ve managed to paint the light of a sky with such light, color © subtlety that I’m not sure I could do it again.  These are most precious to me.

Arizona Sunset Oil on canvas © Denise Natanson-Marcus
Arizona Sunset
24″ x 30″ oil on canvas
© 2014 Denise Natanson-Marcus

If you could ask one question of an artist you admire, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I would love to see one of the Impressionists, like Monet or Pissarro, paint on location and see for myself how they layer their colors and how they get the light in the shadows and the color relationships. Also, Twatchman, an American Impressionist. I’s like to see how he painted all those subtle whites in the snow, and maintained such a light palette yet had so much color and depth in his scenes.

You can see more of Denise’s work at

Denise Natanson-Marcus will be exhibiting May 10-11 at 1471 Hollidale Court, Los Altos, CA 94024