Susan’s many interests, as well as willingness to challenge herself by exploring a variety of subject matter and techniques, have helped her produce artwork that’s fresh and alive. Even when moving from genre to genre, her style and industry are consistent. Each of the overviews given on this page is followed by a link to artwork specific to genre and approach described.
Usually, Susan's abstract works are as soothing to create as they are to view. They give her a chance to explore and play with color, form, and texture, without feeling compelled to identify symbols or messages. Representational and figurative work, in Susan's experience, can prove a lot more demanding, not only for the artist creating it, but for viewers too.
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Susan has been a prolific doodler for as long as she can remember. Regardless of time or place, she believes that doodling can help validate and transform inner thoughts and feelings. It also tends to reflect the influences of familiar, as well as changing, surroundings. Susan's doodle creations are purposeful by chance, but appealing by design. They also help dispel negative connotations provided by conventional dictionary definitions.
Times English Dictionary and Thesaurus, HarperCollins (2000), four definitions for "doodle"
1. to scribble or draw aimlessly
2. to play or improvise idly
3. to dawdle or waste time
4. a shape, picture, etc. drawn aimlessly
"Organic Art" is the name Susan has given to her personal brand of abstraction. It describes method and style that seem to have developed from her natural pension for doodling, or "doodlemania." Looking back, Susan realizes that her earlier doodles appear somewhat unidimensional and contrived. She'd work on a specific piece (drawing then coloring) until it was finished. Her later doodles, she believes, are more evolved and organic. Not only do they use paint, (not just drawing media), but because of the greater randomness with which they seem to grow, "comfort zones" are not as apparent. Experimentation leads to surprises. Since a number of pieces are usually developed simultaneously (regardless of media) in multiple layers and without a particular plan, there is less deliberateness and deliberation. The artwork feels more vital: a dynamic organism leading the way.
1. Favor spontaneity over planning
2. Go layer by layer, detail by detail
3. Welcome surprise (don't force)
4. Paint the background first: till the canvas is covered
6. Have fun making twirling swirling strokes to use as guides
7. Play with the paint (or other media)
8. Experiment with colors, brushstrokes, shapes, composition
9. Go slowly, carefully, and tidily
10. Turn the canvas around, then add details from different angles
11. Step forward and back to see the whole picture
12. Make every fresh painting (or coloring) session a new beginning
Susan's prolific sketch book creations outside of the studio, in Florence at the Biennale (in 2007) and on other travels, she thinks, helped prompt changes in her style and foci (even if unconscious). In life, Susan remarks, that we do things over and again till we've had enough of them. This was likely the case with her more familiar doodles. She had reached the point where she was tired of repeating. As response, and almost automatically, she started to make modifications, Once the doodles in her sketchbook were looser, Susan noticed, in the confines of her studio, that her painting style had evolved too. Abstract work from 2008 on reflects a greater sense of freedom and risk-taking.
Susan is available for portrait commissions, of human as well as of animal kind. Her diptych of Nathalie Lambert (Canadian Olympic Team Leader) and triptych of Alex Baumann (Chief Technical Officer of Canada's Own the Podium initiative) was created to help celebrate the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, held in Vancouver. It was included in the Portrait Society of Canada's show, Canadian Olympic Athletes: A Dialogue in Art.
Susan notes how we are different people on different days, artist as well as model. Sometimes, what is going on for us inside, shows outside. Other times, superficial details appear more significant. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies. Capturing them is important to Susan. Most of the faces and figures she creates do resemble their owners in some way, even those that are caricature-like. Susan doesn't usually start with a "plan," but focuses on features she finds most intriguing at the time of painting, and goes from there.
Poodle pals, Lev (of blessed memory) and Sage, have been a huge part of Susan's life. There's barely a painting they haven't witnessed her create. Initially, she wondered if she'd be able to represent them appropriately. But, through their many hours of gazing (being there for her), she lost the fear. As with the human faces she depicts, her Poodles display different traits depending on time, place, and circumstances—Susan's as well as their own. No matter the images that emerge, Lev and Sage have always been happy to admire themselves/be admired. Susan has, not yet, painted Sweet...
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Susan loves animals. However, the domestic variety are a little easier to get up close and personal with than the wild. Spending time with Poodle Pals, Lev and Sage, helped prepare Susan to better observe details when painting some of her favorite African beasts: elephants, giraffes, lions, and zebra. As elsewhere in her work, whimsy, realism, expressionism, and color dominate in their portrayal.
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New in 2010, Susan was back to painting landscapes—and surprising even herself. A block was lifted! Some people don’t draw or paint because they have had a bad experience at school. A teacher has told them “You’re hopeless,” and that idea sticks. Susan relates! She attempted to get into landscape classes at SMFA. Year after year, she was turned down by an instructor who pre-judged her "limitations." Half a decade later, a springtime trip to the San Fancisco Bay area seemed to boost her confidence. The need to paint the best of what our environment has to offer was reignited, an excitement about being able to paint places she’d rather be: settings that soothe, fill with awe, or motivate. Regardless of genre, Susan's style remains easily identifiable: even bad weather days have appeal due to this artist’s perpetual focus on the positive. Dashes of whimsy and color turn a gloomy day along the Pacific Highway’s 17 mile Drive into a fantastical experience. This, Susan's first attempt at landscape painting in a very long time, entices her to want to do more!
Most people give, receive, buy, grow, or gather flowers at some point, and have pleasant associations with them. Susan's spontaneous enhancement of floral colors and forms adds intensity and power—hopefully enabling viewers to recall positive meanings and associations. Pansies, roses, tulips, and lilies are some of Susan's favorites to paint.
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FOOD, for many, signals Fun Obsession Obstacle or Delight, and prompts mixed feelings. Fortunately, a natural inclination to blend realism with whimsy steadies Susan's focus as artist on the positive: food for well-being, that's made and shared with love and care. Notice the hidden, and not so hidden, hearts in many of the offerings depicted.
Before "high protein" competed with "low carb/no carb" diets, fruit and vegetables were health/weight conscious eaters' first choice. Refreshing and tasty, they are (usually) pleasing to the eye: perhaps why their colors, forms, and symbolism have preoccupied still-life painters for generations. Susan's fruit and vegetable paintings aren't still-lives in the traditional sense. She turns them into landscapes of sorts where magnificaton and/or exaggeration lead to interesting renditions. Susan likes to get in touch with what she is painting and feeling: be almost right in there with it.
View Food Artwork
Sometimes an image calls out to Susan to be painted—even if it doesn't have an "f" name (is not a floral, food, or fruit/vegetable). Susan's more randomly selected subject-matter tends to be special or intriguing in some way: have sentimental value, technical challenges, or unique characteristics.
View Sentimental and Intriguing Artwork
At art school, Susan noticed that "illustration" seemed to take back space to "fine art." She never understood the "logic." For her, illustration provokes magic and meaning, and is a lot of hard work. Using a smaller page, and with (mixed) media that are portable, she enjoys being able to start fresh work spontaneously or to layer creations anytime or anywhere—including on the road.
Much of Susan's recent artwork has evolved to be "mixed media" focused. If it is small, portable, or on paper, she feels that by taking advantage of a variety of resources (and melding them together—usually spontaneously), depth and details are acheiveable that may not be otherwise.
Much of Susan's artwork that isn't from life starts with a photograph: a photograph that she has taken that is enhanced by memory and interpreted via (other) media intentionally or by chance. Sometimes, technical skill is necessary. However, an iPhone in hand, even those who would not usually be “photographers” (like Susan) can be. With this ever-present little gadget, results either come quickly, or it takes a number of shots to reach “the one” that “wows.” When photographs are final works in themselves (not for translation to other media), Susan focuses on those that achieve outcomes thtat other media cannot. Either a “special effect” or sighting is included that wasn’t noticed at time of shooting, or would not be believed if not captured in a click.
Susan's small works measure 12 inches square and under, and usually emerge in groups or series. They show finer detailing not always possible in larger works. They also fit the spaces and budgets of a wider audience. Susan believes that quality original fine art should be accessible to and collectable by all. Creating small works provides opportunities to help make this possible. Many of Susan's small works resemble her sketchbook doodles, and their translation from paper to canvas is interesting.
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