Susan and her Studio in Burnham on Sea.
Susan has lived in Burnham for the last 30 years.
I began by asking her how long had she been painting?
As long as I can remember, but I did not have the courage to make painting my career until my children started nursery, thirty five years ago.
Why did you become an artist?
I had always wanted to be an artist since the days when I used to call on an artist friend of my Mother’s on the way home from primary school. She used to show me her work and let me paint with her.
Where do you find ideas?
Everywhere. A tutor once told me you can make a picture out of anything. One day I was late to class and was trapped in the corner of the classroom with a large canvas only able to see the wall, my easel, my bags and the floor boards. The resulting picture is attached. It is 3×4 feet.
How would you describe your style of work?
Colourful and modern.
How has your work developed from when you first started?
For several years at the beginning of my career I only painted abstract work. Some of the ideas came from the visual world but this was no longer discernible in the finished painting, sometimes the work was entirely non objective. This was an important phase of my development where I learned to handle colour, composition and paint. Over the years I have been influenced by more artists and tried more techniques. Sometimes today the source is visible in the finished work but colour, composition and paint remain my interests.
Several of your works currently available on Art Gallery SW website are of sunflowers. What draws you to this as a subject?
A few years ago my husband planted a packet of sunflower seeds in the garden. Until then I had imagined that sunflowers only came in one variety but when these grew some had large middles and little petals, some had smaller middles and long floppy leaves and others had several smaller heads growing off one main stem. The variety and differing patterns of the seed heads fascinated me and I sat and did four line drawings in black pen one sunny day. Later I turned these into a series of paintings. Image of the original series attached, only five of these are still in my possession.
Do you have a favourite living artist?
If I have to constrain myself to one living artist it has to be Kurt Jackson for his wonderful painting and observation of the landscape.
But I love the way the designer Kaffe Fassett uses colour and some of the large colourful work of David Hockney. Before their Deaths I would have said Albert Irvin and Howard Hodgkin. My early heros were the American Abstract Expressionists, especially Rothko and Hans Hoffman.
What is the most indispensible item in your studio?
Nothing is indispensible. My husband, a sculptor, says if you want to make art you will use a biro on the back of an envelope.
He is right. I am quite happy making work from tearing and glueing paper, however, it is not very durable.
How is colour important in your work?
Early in my career I could not see any thread or theme in my work, slowly I began to see that is was about colour, in particular bright colour and contrast. Sometimes I paint in more subdued colours just to prove I can do it if I want to. When I draw I like to use a black fine liner which can seem inconsistent with the bold painting but it feels the same to me. A fine liner makes a statement that cannot be erased, the statement has to be definite and bold. Perhaps what I am saying is that my work is about making a bold statement, but I am not sure.
What are the limits of painting as a medium?
All media have limitations if the artist is trying to convey a visual image of some sort. However, if the artist is experimenting with the medium, exploring its possibilities, various ways of applying it, different grounds, different formats and new ideas there are enough possibilities to keep me busy for the rest of my life.
This Autumn we are opening our house in Burnham-on-Sea for Somerset Art Weeks from 15th-30th September, details will be on the Somerset Art Works website in the summer.
WE HAVE ART CLASSES in Burnham-on-Sea.
Keeping a Sketch Book,
6 Weeks, 4th June-9th July 2018, Mondays, 1.30-3.30pm, £48
For the Autumn, Taster sessions, details soon.
Contact Sue on email@example.com for more information and to check availability.
Telephone: 01278 788830