Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreamer
Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

This series of ladies at the beach has me entranced. My spare time is completely devoted to creating more of them. Even times that aren't spare get caught up in it. Certainly I would define this as crossing over from passion to obsession. I can't describe what fascinates me the most as I'm painting these. Is it color? Is it the sensuality? It's almost as though life breaths into them. I've never been so directed by what's emerging on canvas as I am now.

Both the figure and the background tantalize me equally.

The beginning starts off simply. A quick gesture sketch put on by a large brush, allows the form to move and morph into shape. Colors start to appear as random as my whim. Slowly it takes shape. This is when the fun or stress really kicks in.

The decisions I make stop being random and the art takes control. What starts out vague and undefined begins to have a voice. The further I develop the canvas, the more important it is to listen to it.

Is the canvas really talking? Well not in the out-loud voice we recognize with our ears. Someone better lock me up if that happens. Just make sure there's an easel and paints with me behind those locked doors...

No the voice I'm talking about is quiet and soft. Sometimes it's hard to hear. Backing away helps. Reflecting. Really seeing what's happening on canvas. Making decisions. Unwavering. The painting takes a turn. It finds a direction. Until I grasp this feeling, I can't bring the painting to completion. It's just a figure in a space prior that.

Each one is different. They all speak differently to me. Sometimes it's difficult to know the direction. Other times it's loud and clear. Usually the title will come to me when I find the direction. It wasn't the case with Sweet Dreamer. She sat completed. I observed her trying to come up with the right title. The longer I contemplated I began to notice she was also in a contemplative state. She looked so far away, deep in thought. What was she thinking about? Who was she thinking about? Was she longing? Was she sad? Was she reliving a moment from earlier in the day? I didn't have the answer.

Luka Bloom was singing in the background. Oh, how he serenades me continuously while I create. Sweet dreams Baby were the words that softly repeated from his lips as he sang True Blue. It fit my girl. It didn't matter if I understood her mood. She was dreaming. Day dreaming about whatever. I wanted to think it was a happy dream. Her clothes and stance supported that thought. And so it was that she became titled Sweet Dreamer.

I wish I could show you how the light moves in the background. Seeing them live is the only way...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The endless journey

Warm Breeze
Original oil painting 20x16"
by Susan Roux

An artists journey is an interesting one to say the least. As we progress down the many winding roads of this journey, we come to realize that the end of the journey only exists if we choose to stop. Otherwise the journey is endless. Meaning that the more we know, the more we discover or are educated about art, the more we realize that there is still further to go. I don't care how masterful an artist may be, there is always more to learn.

I've been very fortunate this past year. I've seen my art evolve through experimentation and hard work. For those of you who follow me, you also know this improvement is due in large part to Don Hatfield. He has been a constant who keeps me focused and stimulated by opening my eyes to things I hadn't yet observed on my own.

If you can't see it, you can't paint it.

I repeat this phrase over and over. I feel a vision needs to exist, whether in our minds or through our eyes. Until you observe the light and the shadow, you cannot paint the light and the shadow. The same is true for all aspects of painting. If you can't see it or don't have the ability to break down what it is exactly that you're observing, it is impossible to replicate it in paint.

I'm not just referring to the representation of objects in one's work. I'm also referring to the emotion an artist has towards these objects. In fine art, it isn't simply representation that is necessary. It isn't only about a pretty picture. Fine art also captures emotion.

The emotion we capture is created by many factors. Color, brushstroke and values play a huge part. But a vision or understanding of the emotion you wish to portray needs to be present. Without the vision, the idea, it will not happen.

And so it goes... This is the great mystery, the giant labyrinth that we call the artist journey. It's a combined mesh of skill, observation and emotion. The variables are endless making the combination of the parts endless as well. So where are you on this journey?

I ran across an excerpt today by Barry John Raybould in his Virtual Art Academy. It opened my eyes to a level that I've yet to discover. It's perhaps a direction I'll need to focus on if I want to continue improving. But it seems a difficult step, so don't be expecting too much in this direction from me yet... Here is the excerpt.

Old master artists knew how to suggest a lot of detail without actually rendering it. Look closely at any of John Singer Sargent's paintings and you will notice that an elegant dress is no more than a series of abstract brushstrokes. If you make your viewers exercise their own imagination, you stimulate them to contribute their own thoughts and images to the work and become a participant in the experience. If you depict everything to make it look like a photograph, you leave nothing up to the imagination of the viewer. The other big advantage of the principle of suggestion is that once again you can say more with less, simplifying and strengthening the abstract design of your painting.

The abstract he refers to in John Singer Sargent's dresses is more than just a loose stroke. It's also a combination of loose color. Both of these combined creates the abstracts he speaks about that stimulate the viewer's imagination. Phew, do I have your head spinning yet? Mine is.

The endless journey... I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blue Heron Gallery

Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

Think sunshine, warm sand, long beaches and vacation. People strolling about relaxed and smiling. Tank tops, flip flops, shorts and ponytails. The smell of salty air.

Think Cape Cod.

Have you ever been? It's a wonderful peninsula, shaped like an arm if you're showing your muscle.

Locals here refer to their locations by using body parts. For example, Orleans is located on the inside of the elbow while Chatham is on the outside of the elbow. Truro is the wrist, Provincetown or P-town as it's known are the fingers, and Falmouth is the armpit. Ask for directions on the Cape and these are the words you'll hear. It's pretty self explanatory and with a single highway running to the tip, finding your way isn't very difficult.

Blue Heron Gallery is located halfway between the inner elbow and the wrist in the lovely town of Wellfleet. People come to Wellfleet for the art. It has many art galleries all within walking distance. Aside from these it's also known for it's oysters. I've been very fortunate to be represented at this fine gallery for years now. The owner, Roy Thurston III, is a wonderful kind man and will happily greet you as you enter. He loves art. He loves the female form and his walls are hung with beautiful amazing pieces of art. You'll also find swirling sculptures, chiseled sculptures, tiny sculptures and whimsical sculptures. Beautiful colored glass pieces sitting on pedestals are placed to capture your eye and enhance the art. The whole experience of walking through this well known gallery is exhilarating to say the least.

The gallery sits behind a lovely perennial garden, center-pieced by a sculpted female with water trickling down her body. You'll walk among the flowers on a brick-laid walkway that leads to the front door. The garden stroll is just a hint of what lies inside. You'll be surprised by it's size. There you'll find a series of rooms on two floors and well placed art that pulls you through the space. Each time you turn another spectacular piece catches your eye in the distance and soon you're drawn further into the maze exploring every inch of the gallery. It's so easy to get lost in the art. At times you may even get lost in the gallery!

Delivery time is approaching. Blue Heron is a seasonal gallery and April is when all the art arrives. Roy is an amazing curator and in a week's time he'll have the empty walls dazzling. I'm looking forward to another season and the opportunity to have my latest series of females out in view for the public. So if you find yourself on the Cape this summer, remember Wellfleet is between the inner elbow and the wrist. Do stop by and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Saint Patrick's Mountain, Ireland
Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

What are you up to lately?

I feel the effects of spring. New things are emerging all around. Have you noticed? The art world is winding up for the approaching season. Announcements for artist's opportunities flood in. Calls for artists, exhibition announcements, openings, workshops, art talks and art walks to name but a few. Here in the North Country the art world is coming out of hibernation.

It may be the only thing sprouting these days as we are still under knee-deep snow... (Hum, that sounded like a frog croaking, but they can't be heard yet either.)

To the artist, spring isn't measured by the snow on the front lawn. A real shift in activity happens this time of year. Following the holidays, life in Maine is a real treasure for the artist. Ahh, the heart of winter. It's a time to delve deep into your own creativity. The winter cold keeps us shut in. The wood stoves crank and the smell and warmth of the burning logs only help relax us to tap into our creative juices. It's a welcomed time. Time to immerse ourselves into experimentation. Time to slosh paint around. Time to play and create. Winter is long and it seems that time passes slowly and that this playground of creativity will last forever.

But it doesn't.

The spring announcements can't be ignored. Artist's hibernation is over and it's time to hop, hop, hop to. Galleries will want art soon. Paintings need to be framed. First frames need to be ordered. Wondering. Worrying sets in. Did I paint enough this winter to supply everyone? Do I have enough worthy pieces? How did it get to be the middle of March without my taking closer inventory of my winter's work?

This never used to happen. I was so tuned into painting for my galleries, that I knew exactly what I had prepared for them. But as the years passed, I found my art was better when I wasn't consciously painting for my galleries. I needed to be painting for me. And so it has been lately. No regard to my galleries as I create. I figured if I paint constantly, there will be ample inventory for everyone. But is there? Is there? Is there?

It's my fear.

Well before it's time for spring clean-up in the flower beds, it will be time for spring clean-up in the studio. I've taken on a new gallery this year and perhaps it's the reason for my anxiety. One more little baby to feed... How I hate to pull myself away from the easel to go count and sort canvases, take inventory on frames and what needs to be ordered. It feels like a transition from the carefree feeling of childhood to the responsibility of adulthood. Like Holden Caulfield I'm not ready to take the leap. I just want to keep playing.

Painting for myself has been far more relaxing than painting for my galleries. I just want to ignore the signs of spring, beckoning me to switch gears and hustle, and crawl back into my hole (behind my easel) and remain in hibernation bliss...

Happy Saint Paddy's Day everyone!

Posted: Saint Patrick's Mountain, Ireland was painted a year ago following an amazing 2-week trip to Ireland. It was actually autumn, but seemed fitting for the day...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Swirling Glow
Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

Did I learn anything for my last post? Only that using a celebrities name for the title, adding a video and posting it all over facebook didn't yield me any more hits than usual. Actually it yielded less comments than usual... Interesting.

Over time I've noticed that when a person's name is used in the title, I'll receive hits on that post if someone googles them. Sometimes it's over a year later and the post can get very active. It seems more effective when the person isn't well known and there isn't as much written about them over the internet.

With regards to the Sheen post, what I would like is to tap into how to create a growing interest around what I'm doing, without it being bad stuff... I'm not sure if it's even possible. We live in a society that preys on the misfortune of others. Why is that?

I prefer to separate myself from all that. Yes I did post about Charlie Sheen, but it was to inform you about how quickly someone's idea can materialize into something concrete. It wasn't to slam Charlie down. I feel far removed from all the celebrity gossip. Tucked away in the woods of Maine, I prefer to slip into my own little world. My imagination can keep me quite entertained and with a large entourage of family and friends, I live a very nice life here. I don't need others misfortunes to keep me ticking.

Slipping away into my own little world...

It seems to be what my latest series is about. Swirling Glow is the tenth. I like to place them near each other and though half are away at an exhibit, I can still group the others here. It's hit me that since their backgrounds are all ambiguous, they represent the world I make for myself. Maybe not make exactly, but it's where my mind likes to escape to. My own solitary little world.

Don't most artists? We love to really get into our paintings, transforming ourselves, pouring out our soul, or creative energy onto canvas. When all goes well, we find ourselves in a trance. Interruptions can cause us to explode verbally. Slipping away into our creations is what we thrive for. Returning to reality is often resisted.

And so it is with me lately. Perhaps more than ever. I think this latest series taps from deep within. For once, I love what I'm creating. I'm hoping the buying public, if they still exist, will love it too. I was overwhelmed with a phone call the other day from a gentleman who purchased 3 of my girls, exhibited at Nosh. Wow! Could this be a glimpse at the reaction people will have to them? It's the first time they're out in public. What a nice compliment. Thank you sir. Periodically these boosts are necessary to keep our momentum going. Lately my momentum is going strong.

How about you? How is your momentum going these days?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Charlie Sheen

Long-Stem Brushes
on sale 50 cents a piece...

How do you bring tons of hits to your blog in one day?

I have a little story to share with you. I know this is out of my ordinary, but out of the ordinary is who I am anyway. So if you'll oblige me...

Sparks the Rescue is a band, signed by Fearless Records, which my stepson Toby McAllister is a member of. This fall/winter the band was busy writing and recording a new CD scheduled for released in May. All the songs are mastered and ready.

A few days ago Fearless Records called the guys and asked if they could write a song about Charlie Sheen. Being based in California, I'm sure the "Sheen" incident is much more popular there than say... Maine, where I am. Luckily being in the midst of getting a CD out, the band could access new music that was already recorded, but not yet heard.

I find this very funny and interesting.

STR, as the band is known, called their recording studio and asked for a karaoke track of one of their songs. Writing lyrics comes easy for them. In no time they had rewritten lyrics to go with one of their new CD songs. Alex Roy, the singer, recorded those new vocals at his home, emailed the track to the recording studio, where it was then added to the karaoke track.

Are you following this?

Fast track... California calls STR, who then calls the recording studio for music. STR records a new vocal track at home on a computer and emails it back to the recording studio who then puts it all together and emails it way out to California. California then takes it and creates a video to go along with the words STR wrote and recorded. All this was done within a few days.

Yes I said a few days!

Now the song with video is out on the internet. Less than twenty four hours after release it had received 10,000 hits.

Wow, so that's how it's done! Now how do I take that information and put it to use on my own blog??? Talk about instant exposure.

The best part about all this is STR music will be heard everywhere and by the time their CD is released, people will already know this tune. Those who'll put the Charlie Sheen song on their ipods, listening to it repeatedly, will be used to the beat and most likely enjoy the original version on the CD.

I hope you were able to follow this story. It all happened so quickly without anyone leaving their home! Technology is crazy.

Here's the video... It Feels Good To Be Charlie Sheen - Sparks The Rescue It'll give you a laugh!

(Yeah seriously, brushes for 50 cents a piece. I now own enough to open a small store...)

Friday, March 11, 2011

But... what's in a title?

Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

This is the final painting I completed while away on my artists retreat. A week has passed since my return and that amazing carefree feeling slips away a bit more each day. Soon I suspect it will be but a memory. As I talk to the other artists who shared this wonderful experience with me, transition back to normal has not been easy.

I hesitated painting this red-skirted female after the thrashing Scarlet the tartlet gave me. Somehow my fears stepped aside because something about her pose sucked me in anyway. I approached her differently. Being keenly aware of the power of red this time around, I began by instantly adding lots of it in my background. I even kept her skin quite red to balance her skirt. Since the focus is directly on her red bottom, the color aided pulling the eye. She actually fell into place easier than I expected. I wonder, did being in the presence of all those other artists give me the nerve to attempt another red skirt? After the last, I didn't think I'd ever paint another one.

What do you think of the title? Is But... too severe? I had quite a few other titles come to mind, but somehow But... stuck. One of my other potential titles was Dry Skirt. Not nearly as catchy. I feel like I need to explain myself. (I'd go swimming) But... (I still have my clothes on). Do you think a potential buyer would cancel the sale because of a title? I wouldn't want to offend anyone. Perhaps they'd see the title as cute and sassy as my sweet model is? I'd love your opinion on this.

Do you have subjects or colors you shy away from because of past difficulties they've given you? It can feel good to face your fear head-on and keep in control to the end. It's very empowering. Why not give it a try?

And I don't want any But's for excuses...

Monday, March 7, 2011


Garden Girl
Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

Hit the road running.

It's been me these past few days. I was so absorbed in art la la land at my retreat, that getting back to reality was sure to be a struggle. My mind didn't want to think about anything other than art. But reality exists and it became time to return to it.

No sooner had I emptied my car of all my belongings, my phone rang with an exhibition opportunity. It was afternoon and I had a class to teach that night. In less than 24 hours I had to be hanging. I've never hurried so much to put an exhibition together!

The venue is a restaurant/bar in Portland Maine called Nosh. It's located on Congress Street in the heart of the art district. It's newly renovated and the menu is exciting, creative and fun. What a cool place! If you're around please stop in to see my exhibit. Some of my new "girls" are hanging there. It's a perfect opportunity to see them in person. (and they're so much better in person...) The opportunity came from Paul, one of my students. His art is hanging with mine for the month of March. Paul has been taking lessons for only a year and his work is wonderful. Do stop in.

Garden Girl is the second painting I completed while on retreat. She was a struggle. I've been working hard trying to depict nature around my figures while still keeping it subdued. I'm playing with layers of color that neutralize until they become only values. Ocean scenes are simpler to achieve. Gardens on the other hand are a real challenge. I use so many colors layering, it's difficult to have local color dominate. I do want to figure it out, so I keep trying.

I worked the better part of a day on her hands. It's the first time I ever really defined some. I worked with a large brush and had planned to continue them the following day with a small brush. Fresh morning eyes can be a gift. I liked the softness and relaxed pose on her hat. I decided against using a small brush to preserve the delicateness the larger ones created. Being totally immersed during this retreat helped me focus deeper than I could have at home. Full days in concentration has it's benefits.

Today is the first day I can breath since my return. The world hit me by storm with each day filled to capacity. I've been running and running. No wonder I resisted returning to reality. I look at the all the girls I've painted recently. They are the complete opposite of my reality. There they stand, relaxed in a world all their own. Not a care in the world, existing in a dreamlike state. You'd think I'd be painting chaotic hustle bustle scenes. Instead these girls just been pouring out of me.

Do you think deep inside, I wish I was this relaxed and carefree?

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm back

Bird Watching
Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

I've been living in Freeport, Maine for nearly two weeks now and haven't walked into LLBean. Some people would find that utterly sinful. It wasn't about shopping. It was about art. My artists retreat turned out to be even better than imagined. So good infact, that some of us chose to extend our time. I apologize to all my students for canceling classes, but if you'd seen this place, you'd understand.

Six artists in a mansion on the ocean in the heart of winter, wind howling outdoors, makes it easy to stay cooped up indoors. From sunup to sundown, there was always at least one person with a brush in hand. Everyone's process, different. Everyone questioning and talking about art. Strewn about were various art books. Excerpts were read aloud and discussions blossomed. Some of your blogs were shared as you waltzed into our conversations. Ruminating the Profundities had us all rolling in laughter, with excerpts recited by heart at random times during the day. Laughter filled the house. Creative energy bubbled and vibrated within its walls.

The fireplace was lit. Wine was poured. Art videos were watched. Gourmet food was prepared. The jacuzzi was churning. Artists began to experiment out of their comfort zone. Suggestions were made. Confidence grew. Camaraderie settled in.

Then it happened. Champagne Thursday...

I want to thank everyone who came. What a night! Artists entered with their spouses and immediately felt the energy in the house. We had been productive and there was an extensive art show to view. How amazing it was to share our experience within the same walls where it all took place. Don even called that night and felt the explosive energy over the phone lines. He wished he was here... We wished you were here too, Don.

The best way to describe it was checking out of reality. Each day was eat breath and sleep art. Nothing else to worry about, think about, stress about. Everyone who participated wants to do it again next year. I highly recommend this to any of you out there. Houses in high tourist areas rent for cheap in the off season. It's a great way to have a serious work vacation. Jennifer said it was the best vacation she ever had! How cool is that?