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Marlene Gerloff, Artist

Marlene Gerloff



Marlene’s use of rich color, contrasting lights and darks, and skillful technique result in paintings with universal appeal, no matter what her subject matter. From her extensive background in design, drawing and color she brings to her work exciting contrasts of spontaneity and control. 

Her art has been shown at Galerie Megarte in Paris, Nese Galleries in Orange County, Artists Gallery in San Juan Capistrano and The Cove Gallery in Laguna Beach where she was an exhibiting partner for 12 years. 

In addition to exhibiting, she teaches watercolor for the city of Mission Viejo and at the Irvine Fine Arts Center, demonstrates for the art clubs, conducts workshops and is active in community art organizations, including the Mission Viejo cultural Arts Committee, for which she has done public arts projects. 

Originally from Boston, Marlene received her BFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She continues her studies by attending professional artists’ workshops. She has had a successful career as a graphic designer and art director working with corporations, major designers and ad agencies. 

Appreciated by art show jurors and collectors alike, her prize-winning paintings are in many fine collections throughout the world, forming a special bond between the collector, the artwork and the artist.


"The Garden Path" 


One of the joys of painting is being able to create the world the way you would like it to be. My reference photo was of a few houses at the top of a grassy slope - with no flowers and no pathway! I am a terrible gardener but I love to paint big masses of colorful flowers and here was the perfect opportunity. I designed the path up the hill as a good way to lead the viewer's eye into and around the composition.

Remember - it's not about making a painting of a photograph but about using an idea from the photo to make a painting.


"Oso Creek"



This painting of a local creek bed was an opportunity to use several textural effects with watercolor. To simulate leaves, the tree foliage was sprinkled with salt while the paint was damp. Although most instruction books recommend waiting until the shine on the wet paint is gone, I have found that's often too late! Three different kinds of salt that can be used are table, margarita and kosher salt - each giving a different look.

The foreground rocks were collaged with rice paper textured with threads in it. I painted the rocks both under and over the rice paper which helped give the rocks solidity. Be open to using whatever gets the look you want.



"AFTER THE RAIN"  15" x 22" watercolor



“After the Rain” was painted on location at Lake Mission Viejo in Orange County, California. Our usual sunny blue sky was transformed with dramatic clouds because of a recent rain. This sky also affected the color of the water, giving it shimmering lights and deep darks, which appealed to my preference for strong value contrasts.  


In order for the surface of the water to appear as a horizontal plane, I like to make the foreground water dark then fading back to light value in the distance. I also use this plan when painting ocean scenes. This gives the water aerial perspective. 


My special challenge in this painting was to create movement of the water in the foreground. I did this by leaving a pattern of whites and lights in the dark water.


"QUIET STREAM"  15" X 22"  watercolor


 “Quiet Stream” is a unique painting in its use of black paint – which is unusual in watercolor paintings.  


Milford Zornes, the great California watercolorist, taught me his method for creating this very dense black. The secret is to do a RED under painting in the areas you want to be black. Let it dry and then paint your black over the red! I liked the red so much I let little glimpses of it show occasionally. 


Because I prefer my paintings to have strong contrasts of lights and darks, I decided to use Zornes method for my darkest darks. The black not only gives the painting greater depth, but adds an air of mystery.


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