Sunday, January 31, 2010

Slowing down

Slowing Down
by Susan Roux
Original oil painting 18x24"

Sticking with yesterday's "warm thoughts" theme, I've decided to post a painting I did last year. I had such fun working layer upon layer of colorful transparent washes. Eventually the shallow water began to looked wet. The photo doesn't do it justice. This painting and the application of color is what led to my current series of "children at the beach".

I painted this during one of my classes. My students had chosen different poses from this same photo shoot and so we all had similar light and colors in our water. Class meets once a week and my painting dried completely between layers. I was fascinated how continued applications of washes reacted with the layers beneath. I remember working several weeks in this thin state.

The composition was interesting. I liked the way the water twisted and turned as it led to the figure. The title came easy. My method of painting was slowed. The pose was calm and restful. It reminded me how people come to the beach on vacation and leave their troubles behind. The sounds, the smells, everything about the beach contributes to a relaxed restful state. The crashing waves, one after another, become hypnotic. The sun heats our bodies and eventually we begin to relax. The world slows down. We slow down. I chose this pose because it captured this idea so well.

Slowing down...

Isn't it what we all want to do when life gets too hectic? I hope you're taking time to slow down. Its when the importance of little things comes to light. When we learn to appreciate simple pleasures. The mind clears out the chaos and focus follows. The ability to focus on one single element, like a breaking wave, with nothing else in the way. Its so restful.

Please don't feel guilty for slowing down. Its ok to rest. Its ok to stop once in awhile. Clarity will happen and you'll wind up accomplishing more in the end.

I wish you a restful day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warm thoughts

Full Pots
Original oil painting by Susan Roux

January is quickly coming to an end. A substantial chunk of winter is behind us. We awoke to "0" degrees. That's fahrenheit. For all my foreign readers, -17.7 c. is the equivalent! Brrrrrrrr...

I hope you're all keeping warm!

Anyone want to move to Maine? In all fairness the temperatures are predicted to rebound to 17 (-8c.) in full sun later. For most of the year, its a great place to be... Plus with these cold temperatures, its the perfect excuse to curl up to someone you love in front of the fire. Just don't forget your gloves when you go out!

I choose to think warm thoughts. Join me? After yesterdays post with tiny petunias and Rahina q.h. commenting from Scotland's deep freeze, I've decided warm thoughts are needed in many places. Of course Australia may be commenting on how its mid-summer, to rub it in... (but we can pay them back come July)

I chose to post two images for warm thoughts. The first, Full Pots, is a painting I finished with a class this fall. I have to say, not only was it a challenge for me to simplify it for them, it was also a challenge for them to paint! We worked a long time on it and their results were wonderful! After stringy petunias, I was ready to see robust reds exploding out of their pots. A pleasant reminder that summer returns...

The second image is a candle and a fire. No this is not my home. Its an image from one of the spectacular "cottages" we stayed in while in Ireland. Nearly the whole wall was stone. Beautiful!

So now you can imagine your heat anyway you'd like. A sunny summer's day or curled up by a warm fire. Either way, I wish you warm thoughts, warmth in your heart, and a creative spirit that helps you produce exciting things to warm the hearts of your viewers.

Stay warm my friends and remember. We could be at the start of winter rather than well into it...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tiny petunias

Mike and I returned from our two week holiday in Ireland with over 6000 photos. I know that sounds excessive, but we like to walk around taking pictures. Fortunately for us, its what we both want to do. I could post a daily picture from there for several years and still have images to spare.

So then I wonder, what makes me chose one image over another to post?

Take this simple image, a flower box of small, late-season, stringy petunias. Why among thousands was this my choice? Much like choosing an image to paint, this one caused a response. This one spoke to me.

The longer I look at it, the more I like it.

I like the fact that the trim is painted in two shades of red. The bright shiny wood slats of the window itself and the neutralized red, almost dirty red, of the sill. Notice how there are flowers in those exact shades growing. There are even soft yellow ones to match the color of the building. The lankiness of the stems create movement that dance my eye throughout the image. Though tiny and almost struggling to hang on, they remain bright and cheerful. Aren't window boxes up-lifting? I've always loved them.

As I observe closer, the reflection becomes impossible to miss. The window sits in shadow, but the reflection is all sunlit.

There in the distance are houses, a canal, small boats and two figures walking engaged in conversation. The easiness of their stride is captured in the reflection, even through the folds of the curtain. This relaxed easiness can be found throughout Ireland. No wonder we returned so relaxed...

I also like the curtain. Though its white, it appears to be a soft blue. If you look at the top image and squint, it pretends to be the sky...

This entire little image is poetry. It has a whole story to tell.

This captivating little window belongs to Monks. Monks is a pub in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. Like all the Irish pubs, they had great fish! The Guinness wasn't bad either. (I never knew beer went with fish...)

I think this is why Mike and I like to walk and take photos. Sometimes the neatest ones can only be found when walking slow. Taking time to look at the details is where the real beauty lies.

Kind of reminds me of people...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ocean Roses 3

Ocean Roses
By Susan Roux
(painting in progress)

Ocean Roses is close to completion. Class has moved along at a very good pace, especially for beginners. We developed the remainder of the rose foliage. It was interesting to see how everyone's stroke, being so different, yielded quite varied results. Since a large part of the painting is this foliage, everyone's canvas took on it's own personality. Prior to this, their works were very similar.

As for my own progress, I'm wondering if all this simplification is causing me to loose some of the "interest" that existed before. I like the fullness I achieved with the bush. It was the focus while getting the class to sculpt it. We worked with darks, lights and mid-tones to create volume. I tried to preserve some of the exciting underpainting colors, but failed a bit. I don't think all is lost however. I'll have to work in some excitement as we finish it up next week.

I can see additional tweaking will be necessary in my flowers, especially the large focal point one. Its much stiffer than I'd like. By eliminating one blossom on the far ridge, my composition improved. As we advance the canvas, elements need adjusting...

Its been a learning experience for me to photograph each session's evolution. I knew my progression differed within my classes than when on my own, but a visual record gives me a base to evaluate it with. I wasn't expecting this. Its a good surprise. Hopefully it will help me with future class work. If I can tell at which point it falls apart or looses interest, maybe I can really focus on preventing it from happening.

Time will tell...

I'm posting the other images to show the progress and evolution. Your comments are appreciated.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Treasure hunt

Watercolor by Fernando Artal

I'm really enjoying blogging. Not only is there the fun of letting out some of the many things in my head, but there is the adventure, the scavenger hunt, of exploring all the wonderful things that you have put up to share. Wasted moments sitting at my computer have been transformed into explorations.

You stimulate me. You encourage me. You inspire me.

Somedays I find myself going to paint so I can have something to show you. I suspect the same is true for some of you as well. Especially those who've signed on as daily painters. Wow, its a huge commitment and I admire the dedication it takes to accomplish this. As someone who doesn't paint daily, much less finish a painting daily, you inspire me to go to my studio.

Yesterday I did just that.

My painting is well on it's way. In shades of yellow and blue my model dances at the beach. I'll share her later when she's done. This one is not a child. I keeping you in suspense?

While breaking for tea, I visited your blogs. It helps to keep my painting energy at its peek, even in my down time. I came upon Fernando Artal's work. I was very taken by it and I wanted to share it with you. He is from Spain and his blog is in spanish. Fortunately for me, most of his posts are paintings, so the language is not a problem. He has 23 followers. I suspect many of you have not found him yet. Therefore, I've decided to share my treasure hunt find with you. His watercolors are unlike anything I've ever seen. I tried to leave a comment, but it malfunctioned. He doesn't know I'm posting about him...

I want to return to work on my beach dancer. I left her skin half finished yesterday and I really want to complete it with the same colors...

Thanks for keeping me stimulated on my down time. Keep creating, posting and blogging. We all benefit from each other!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The tree

I have a love for trees. I'm not sure why, but it stems way back to childhood. They're the subject in many of my paintings (of course not my beach ones...) and now I live among them nestled in my house in the woods. Trees make me feel good and safe. Its a deep comfort, like I'm very close to God. It is no wonder that when a friend sent us to this particular tree, I was in awe!

This tree is estimated to be 500 years old.

How amazing! Its outlived generation upon generation. When you think of a very long life at 100 years old, the thought of 500 is huge. Yet here in this place, this exact spot, this tree has grown for all this time...

Oh, the things it must have seen! It makes me wonder. It must have experienced it all. The good, the bad, the horrible and hopefully beneath its protection, love. I like to imagine two lovers picnicking under its canopy on a warm summer day. I'd like it to be me there on the red checkered blanket pulling a bottle of warm red wine out of a basket to sip with Mike. Laughing and giggling, our cares would fade away to only this particular moment in time. My thoughts carry me as if in a dream...

This tree lives in Ireland. Its located on the magnificent grounds of Birr Castle. After leaving, I realized I never even touched the tree. Why was that? The more I thought about it, I realized how overwhelmed I was beneath its branches and my feeling of being close to God was increased in multiples. My body tingled as I felt in the presence of something ancient. I'm not the only one to be humbled by it. The grass is mowed in a circle beneath the entire canopy. It gives it a feeling of majesty. As soon as you step into that circle you begin to feel different.

The tree has suffered greatly,
yet survived.

I've included this one to give you scale.

Even up close, something so special glows in this tree. I was surprised at how little foliage it needed to survive. Here in Maine, I'm used to maples and oaks with their huge dense canopies. This ancient beauty, sorry to say I have no idea what type of tree it is, was see-through. It reminded me of the Irish people themselves. Not flamboyant. Simple in their desires and only taking from the land what is necessary to survive. With this thought, don't the maples and oaks remind you of Americans? Always needing abundance and characteristically showy...

We could learn from the trees.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shifting art

Original oil painting 30x40"
by Susan Roux

France. The medieval villages of France... An inner warmth overcomes me just thinking about it. Its one of the places on my "must-return" list. I blogged about it in December when I mentioned my artist friend Martine-Alison who lives there. One of these days I need to introduce her to you...

I painted this on a large gallery-wrapped canvas with the painting continuing around the thick edges. Its fun to peek and see the roses extend their dainty climbing dance and the buildings, doorways and walkways continue. It gives it space. I like that it isn't framed. At 30x40", it becomes an addition to a room and it feels like you could just walk in! I think a frame would confine it, separate it; halting some of this openness quality it has. I titled it Welcome due to this pull it has to make you want to just step inside.

Its currently exhibited at Central Maine Medical Center until the end of this week. I heard a write-up about the show was in the local papers, but since I don't get the paper, I never saw it. Today I accidently stumbled upon it. Here it is if you'd like to read it. I thought it would be my artist statement, but was pleased to find only elements of it. The revised version made for a better news article. Thanks June for that!

Several of my France paintings will then be hung at Maine Street Music Lessons. Next week I'll be "curating", reorganizing, shifting, deleting and hanging. I think the France paintings will compliment Sandy Dunn's violin paintings better than what is currently there. The color palettes are similar. If I remember to bring my camera, I'll take pictures to post later for you.

Have you been busy shifting art lately? My studio could use some shifting too, but that's for another day...

Whether you're shifting art, creating art or dreaming about art, I hope you enjoy your day!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Subject matters?

Come on in. You're just in time!

Tea is brewing and my special artsy cups are laid out. Its my own special recipe doctoring Lipton with fresh cranberries, oranges, cilantro and a bit of brown sugar. When these flavors meld the taste will surprise you. (Its a good surprise...) Mike is just pulling the muffins out of the oven and swirling on the glaze. The smell of sweetened cinnamon fills the room.

Have a seat and lets talk about art.

What will it be? Composition? Color? Process? Or maybe subject matter? Oh, I like that one. Let's talk about subject matter. It's often overlooked as a good art topic to discuss. How's your tea? Would you like a bit more sugar? Lemon maybe?

How do we choose what we paint?

A common answer is usually what we're passionate about, what stimulates us. Typically, something moves as and we want to express our feelings about it. Maybe we have something to say or a story to tell. Perhaps we saw another's work and decided to try something different. There's a lot of reasons that come to mind around the concept of passion, but is it always the reason?

The power of suggestion. That trap can get me tangled. Why is it that we sometimes choose to veer away from our passion to paint what someone else wants? A gallery owner can make the simplest comment and suddenly those thoughts interfere with our own creative spirit. Naturally you'd like to please them, representation is important.

It isn't always your bread and butter (or as in today, your muffin and butter...), it can be anyone saying they prefer art that is like... Is it natural to examine our own mind each and every time? I know artists are hard on themselves. We are the worst. But still, why is it so hard to stick to our own passion?

Crazy things pop into mind like sales. No one will be interested in this... I fall into that one. Do you? I get tantalized by quiet little places in nature. You know, those sunlit grasses growing around the tree trunk. I could just zoom right in! Sometimes I do. But sales are easier when I paint a whole scene as opposed to a spot in the scene. It affects me. It affects what I choose to paint. I'm not proud to admit it, but its true.

I had this discussion with John Morris in Ireland. Subject matter. The importance of subject matter. He said he thought it was the most important for sales, followed by talent and then framing. What might a buyer be interested in looking at for a long period of time? He made some interesting points. One vegetable. It has a very limited place in the world... No matter how well you paint it or how passionate you are about it, it remains one vegetable.

Recently one of my representing gallery owner's said he can't believe he's saying it, but with the current economy, if a recognizable, local landmark or jut of land were placed beyond my children at the beach, it would be sold.

How do we ignore a comment like that?

I'm trying to stick to my guns. Currently nothing recognizable is beyond my children at the beach. They're all zoomed in. But who knows, in time I may get tempted to try a few, for experimental sake. What are your thoughts on this? Do you always paint what your passionate about? I mean, honestly...

Coffee and Curves 16x20" Original oil painting by Susan Roux

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sandy Dunn

This is my friend Sandy Dunn, also known as Sandra Leinonen Dunn. Not only is she a wonderful artist, she's a painting!

Don't you think?

(Her photographer husband thinks she's a photograph...) Its inspiring just being around her. Sandy is very gifted, intelligent, wonderfully kind and giving. I really enjoy our limited time together. We're meeting today for lunch. I'm so excited! Its been since before my trip to Ireland this past fall that we've seen each other. Schedules get in the way...

Getting together is always creative stimulation. I know I'll return energized with wonderful new ideas. Its always the case. Don't you love it when ideas just flow with positive energy? It nourishes your spirit. Nourishes your soul.

We've exhibited in two-person shows many times. I remember one exhibit we titled "Pear-ing up", for Sandy is known for her unusual colorful pears. Currently we exhibit together at a local music lessons establishment. Sandy loves to play the violin and incorporates her pears to paint pear-shaped violins! They are quite different and popular. Maine Street Music Lessons is a great place to exhibit these unusual pieces.

Sandy and I love to paint together. Whether from each other's studios or out painting plein air in fragrant gardens , we compliment each other, supporting and lending advise. I know her help has aided my advancement in plein air works. Constructive criticism can be so helpful. Hopefully we can get together to paint again soon...

Do you have special artists that you paint with, exchange ideas with? Its wonderful to find someone who you trust to give you sound advise when you need it most. Art is such a personal thing. You reveal something very deep about yourself. It can be difficult being critiqued. When two people can function well in that situation, both gaining from the experience, its a gift.

Sandy lives one hour away, but she's my "near-by" gift. I'm very glad we found each other...

I'd like to leave you with her cheerful flowers. Hope they make you smile...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Splashing color

Do you ever wake up and feel your creative energy surging? I'm hardly awake, still sipping my coffee, and I can tell its going to be a painting day. I have this urge to yank off my bulky bathrobe and run downstairs to my studio and splash color around!

I've been seriously immersed in my children at the beach series. I'm feeling the pending deadlines for delivery, though they're several months away. I hope to shed that feeling and just let my creativity flow. Ever notice how your work can change when you think about it too much or put some special expectations on yourself? Maybe that's why I'm painting like a mad woman lately. I don't want the approaching deadlines to affect my work. I want to be prepared in advanced!

That could be high hopes...

I have five canvases in the drying stage and I'm dying to jump back in! Being patient until they're set to my liking is proving to be difficult. I look at all my splashed color and it stimulates me. Lately I laugh at the evolution my work is taking. My process is starting out so wild, uninhibited and abstract. Much like the little children I'm painting. At some point I need to pull it all together and calm things down. Its as though I need to stop playing like a kid and start being the responsible adult!

Don't you hate that?

I'm posting images of both stages and you'll laugh at what I'm telling you. Funny how while painting the subject, I'm becoming my subject. Didn't they tell us this in art school? Or was that for acting? "Don't paint the tree. Be the tree..." Honestly being the "child" seems much easier to do.

Yesterday I sketched another. My thought is if I have enough of them in progress, at least one will be dry enough to continue... My studio space suffers from it, but my creative energy is exploding!

I wish you explosive creativity today. Be like a child and have fun splashing color around! Much like exercise, your energy level will rise...

Tap onto that joy in your heart and let it pour out of you!

Making Ripples 20x10" original oil painting by Susan Roux
Untitled work in progress 20x10"

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Welcoming Flowers
Original oil painting by Susan Roux

I've been blogging for 46 days and this is my 45 post. I remember when I started, I had no idea where this would take me. In my own words, "I was up for the ride..."

Its good when you try something new.

New ideas develop from it. In this case, new acquaintances, emerging friends, stimulation, daily art exhibits to view and participate in and lots and lots of helpful information. I was unaware of the connection, the large web of interaction, bloggers have. As I asked a lot of questions, this supportive family patiently explained it to me. So now a month and a half into it, I'm seeing the picture and I like what I see.

I've even encouraged new people to start blogging! I don't have intensions of stopping anytime soon. Another delightful surprise was in recording my journeys, it forced me to really remember details that I would otherwise loose. Now I've preserved them. They will remain here for myself and others to reread at anytime.

When I began, Jamie Haney wrote me a lovely email answering my questions and more. In it she talked about her favorite type of blog. They were the ones that included both art and writing. She said, "I like a blog that is like coming into a friends house and sitting down at the kitchen table with a nice glass of iced tea and having a chat and learning more from this new or old friend."

Wow. I really liked what she said. I wrote it down so I'd remember. It left me with a wonderful feeling. At the time I didn't quite understand how it could be like visiting a friend, but there is something about continually returning to someone's blog that is now resembling this for me. I know in time these connections will grow and I'll be richer for it.

I keep finding out about followers who never identify themselves. If that's you, come join in the fun. There is much more to blogging than what sits on the surface. It isn't until one begins that this magical connection of supporting people comes to light. Take a look around. You'll find many different types of blogs. Maybe one will inspire you to start...

Welcoming Flowers is a painting I did with one of my art classes. Its at my front door. I thought it appropriate for this post. I'd like to invite you in.

Would you like a cup of tea?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuscany dreams

Do you dream of going places?

I do. The more I travel the more I want to travel. Europe has been my intrigue and with luck and a few dollars, I'll return again. My sights are on Tuscany next...

I was checking out some of my followers sites and came upon Roisin O'Farrell's post titled In a bit of a Jam! Love the title and the painting. In this post Roisin talks about artists bartering. I think its a very cool idea. She starts out with little things like jam for gesso boards and ends up with weekend stay's for paintings.

I'm all up for that one!

It's been in my mind to travel for art. How wonderful that would be! Last summer I was online searching for villas in Tuscany that might offer me a room if I painted their vineyards. I was even connected with a man in Italy who was assisting me in trying to find such a place. We were unsuccessful...

That doesn't mean such a thing doesn't exist. It also doesn't mean we can't make it happen. I do remember years ago a place in Bar Harbor, Maine would invite artists during pre-season to come stay for a week. The owners were busy preparing their establishment for the summer and they allowed artists to use an entire floor during this time. The artists were free to paint and the only charge was to donate a painting at the end of their stay.

It was perfect for all involved. The owners received beautiful original art to decorate their rooms, while the artists painted for free in amazing scenery! At the end of the week, the owners hosted an "art show" in the grand-room showcasing the artists work from the week. One artist would paint a beautiful painting at her leisure during the year to bring, so her room and board was accounted for upon arrival.

If artists started to offer such deals, do you think we could begin a trend?

It isn't a far cry from my artists hosting artists idea. I know this sort of thing could work. Maybe we should talk about this some more... I'd love your ideas on the matter?

Where do you want to go?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cliffs of Moher

Welcome to the Cliffs of Moher. They're a popular tourist attraction in County Clare, Ireland. Mike and I chose to visit from the water as opposed to the typical visitor's center, which sits atop the cliffs. It was a good choice. From Doolin, a boat took us close to the rocks and as you can imagine our cameras never stopped clicking! Its hard to imagine the grandeur of these Atlantic facing cliffs, but from its feet one feels very small.

The short sail in was exciting.
Closer and closer we came.

Larger and larger they seemed.

O'Brien's Tower sits high on the cliff. It can be seen from a great distance. It was built in 1835 for the purpose of tourism. Can you imagine? Way back then, such a tower raised not for the sake of protection, but to bring foreigners to the region to benefit the economy. I'm not sure the tower is why they came, but the cliffs themselves certainly pull a great deal of tourists to this place.

While looking through my many photos of these cliffs,
I noticed this interesting one...

A figure is walking in.

As I zoomed in for a closer look, I realized it was only an opening and not a free standing rock like some of the others around the cliffs. Its an optical illusion for me. At times I can see it as a three-dimensional stone figure walking into the alcove. It reminded me of Luka Bloom's song, Fertile Rock. In it he speaks of footsteps. Footsteps of an ancient race. Footsteps of those who passed here before us. Or possibly the figure of Mary... kneeling before Ireland (in prayer?) as if to protect it?

Its an interesting angle of an opening in the rocks. One second earlier or later from a moving boat and the image would be gone...

As we were leaving, the sky opened up.

You almost remain speechless in the midst of such beauty. With the wonderful shapes and colors our world holds for us, its no wonder artists are everywhere, inspired to capture the amazement before them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Let spirits soar

The snow is falling. Quietly falling.

I awoke to six inches of new snow and it continues to dance down in large beautiful flakes. It clings to everything, every branch, every object. I love the interesting shapes it creates, transforming shrubs and evergreens into magnificent works of art! My garden bench is always a particular favorite. With every snow fall and partial melting in between, it becomes an evolving work of art. The snow shapes left behind and the new snow added collects on the rails and slats in new and interesting patterns each time. I could stare out the window all day...

Black-capped chickadees take turns at the bird-feeders. The green gazebo shaped one is their favorite. I love the way the snow cones up high on its roof. In and out they go. The tufted titmouse joins in their feasting. Aside from the continuous falling snow, theirs is the only movement.

A day of calm and serenity awaits. My spirit rests. After the recent difficult news our family has received, a day of rest is is needed and welcomed. I'll start a fire in the wood stove. The warm heat will add to the day's peacefulness, relaxing the body to its core.

I will paint.

My "children at the beach" series needs my attention. They sit dry, calling to be added to. Dripping new layers of paint will be healing. I chuckle at the contrast with the day. Pure white snow and cold temperatures versus oceans of color on a warm beach day. Its exactly what my spirit needs. Don't you just love dates with your easel? In the calmness, I'll let my creativity soar.

Pictured is Marching, a finished painting in this series. I have many to go to be ready with inventory for my galleries this year. I think painting is the best job someone could have. Today is a holiday, but I choose to go work on my day off...

I wish you moments to let your spirit soar, no matter how heavy life may feel. Those precious days of calm and peacefulness are a gift to be embraced. Go embrace yours with whatever makes you feel good!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ocean Roses 2

Ocean Roses
Susan Roux painting in progress...

This is a continuation of last week's post titled Ocean Roses. I wanted to show you the painting in progress as it develops with my class. When teaching a beginning class, I simplify things differently than if I were painting alone. When I run across similar elements in a painting that other classes have struggled with, I search for new ways to simplify it further.

Last class we concentrated on our flowers. We began by placing the yellow centers. Rugosa roses are structured differently than florist roses. I find it necessary to point out the structure of something before we paint it. If your subject is not understood, its very difficult to paint it correctly. These particular flowers are cup-shaped and have few petals. Class was very familiar with these coastal beauties and the grand perfume even one blossom can give off. How wonderful it would have been to have a bowl of them on the table! The fragrance alone would have aided in capturing the spirit, the essence of these delicate delights.

We painted them from outside in, pulling each petal towards our yellow centers. This gave us control over the outside shape, but allowed us to let the brush flow gently and freely towards the center. Paint them too rigidly and you loose the dainty properties of a flower all together...

After finishing blocking in the blossoms, we had time to begin the greenery. We focused on the bulging form of the plant, moving values from dark to light. Time ran out and it left the incomplete painting at a strange stage to stare at all week. I don't think I ever left greenery to sit like this before. It will be interesting to return to it next class and connect it like a unified form. Teaching has a way of presenting its own unique challenges...

Its part of what keeps it exciting, challenging and fun!

I'll keep you posted on our progression as we bring our painting to its end.

After class, two students had fun painting a different canvas. Paul has been using his sweatshirt as a cleaning rag, continually wiping his brushes on himself. During class he mentioned he should use the excess pink shades and paint a heart over the greying strokes on his shirt.

Jen proceeded to help him accomplish this...

Nothing wrong with a little fun...

Don't take your art too seriously. It will be better if you take time to relax and have fun with it!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Your prayers

This is a detail of a painting I did years ago of my niece, Nicole. She is now 7 years old and has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given one year to live.

What we are looking for is a miracle...

I believe in the power of prayer and I'm asking you to pray in her behalf.
Thank you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Owen Rohu

Susan Roux and Owen Rohu

Meet Irish artist, Owen Rohu. I met Owen over the internet in the same way I found John Morris as mentioned before. It was thrilling to have these accomplished artists writing to me months before my trip. Owen lived over two hours away from where we were staying in Ballyvaughan. He invited Mike and I to come visit. He claimed his town was picturesque and as an artist, and Mike a photographer , we would find it inspiring. Owen was right. Westport was very beautiful!

I wasn't nervous at all. After my wonderful experience meeting John, I knew this was going to be a day I would always remember. Owen was preparing for an exhibition at Oisin Gallery in Dublin which was beginning the following week. What a thrill it was to get a pre-showing of all his works! So many beautiful paintings hung around his studio, ready for delivery.

We looked at each one.

Owen explained his process.
I was captivated by the detail and his use of the oil's transparency.

That was a common thread for us. The transparency is not often explored and it was fun to meet someone who loved it as much as I do. He had painted delicate onion peels where light passed through with absolute beauty! Flower petals were dainty, transparent, weightless strokes of delight...

Owen's specialty was his glorious still life's.
He showed me how he transformed an old dog house into the perfect controlled display space to set his subjects in.
He never has to play, "chase the light"!

Owen gave me exhibition booklets filled with wonderful images of past works.

We visited, talked, had lunch and tea with his lovely wife and family. I can't tell you how inspiring it is to go visit with other artists while on holiday. I urge you to try it. You will make friends you will keep for life...

Owen Rohu is the lucky artist who has the magnificent view from yesterday's post, Magic. I've been informed of the real name for Saint Patrick's Mountain. It is called Croagh Patrick (pronounced Croke), but the locals call it The Reek. Odd sounding names for us in America...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


There's nothing better than listening to
for painting an Ireland painting...

I know I've mentioned him before and I often paint with his music playing. However, yesterday it really put me in a very special creative zone. I tweaked and signed four paintings! What a great feeling. Its not like I painted all four in one day. They were virtually done. I just find it difficult to bring them to completion. Too often, I'd hoped to capture something more. So they sit, ...unsigned.

Not yesterday. Like magic I could see exactly what I needed to do to them and I was fearless about charging in.

I never worked like this before. I'd finish one before starting another, focusing all my energy on the canvas at hand. But my process changed a bit. Now I let different layers dry before continuing. That, coupled with the many works in progress from my 3-4 painting classes, has my studio cluttered with unfinished works. Wet paintings in cross-hatch placement, grow on the floor from my walls towards the center of my studio. Sometimes I begin so many, they consume nearly all my working space! This lends itself to never finishing some. Are they just drying between layers or are they done?

Often I feel like I just fall short of really painting something spectacular. I know that sounds conceited, but something inside me says I can do better. You'd think I'd have figured it out by now...

Anyway, yesterday I was very excited about my accomplishment. Here posted is the painting I'd been toiling on all week. I was finally happy with it. Its a scene in Ireland and the distant mountain is Saint Patrick's mountain. It is the view from one of the artist's homes we visited. Can you imagine this being your daily view?

I wish you all days like yesterday was for me. Its a gift when it happens and everything falls so sweetly into place. Have a good one and thanks for reading...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Old friends

I received a Christmas card in December from an old friend. We had lost touch for several years and the surprise of her card filled with thoughtful, tender words brought the past rushing in.

She lives nearby and we used to spend a great deal of time together. She's an artist and we painted and laughed and talked and cried in each others company, sometimes in each others arms. She was my best friend for a decade and longer. Its odd how changes in our lives can slowly pull people apart. Back then I would have never believed there would come a time when we would loose communication altogether.

But it happened. Do you have dear friends with whom this has happened to you too?

I was busy when the card arrived. I made a mental note to contact her after the holidays. When I removed the hanging cards from around my doorway, I set hers aside as a reminder to call. I did. I reached the answering machine. Several days passed and yesterday I received a call back from her.

Funny how time apart disappears when friends reconnect.

So much to catch up on! We couldn't stop talking. Next week we are meeting for lunch. I suspect it will be a long lunch...

Just yesterday as well, Josh called telling me of an old grade-school friend who emailed him out of the blue. His friend was in Iraq. I wondered what made him think of Josh, being so far away. He must be lonely. He must miss home. How wonderful it was that when he found comfort in his thoughts, it was about time spent with Josh... Josh hasn't seen him in years. Now he can't wait until his friend returns so he can visit with him.

I don't know what jars people to reach out to old friends, but I'm thankful it happens. It warms the heart and puts a smile on our face. The first thing my friend said to me over the phone after saying my name was, "Oh, I really missed that laugh!" I wish next week's lunch date was today...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This post is just for you!
Here's the idea...

I invite you all to post a comment. In the comment leave just your website, nothing else. (If you'd like to introduce yourself, please do, but on yesterday's page...) If artists, I mean a lot of artists, come and post their websites here, we would create a massive
database available to us all!

Can you imagine a spot where all you saw was a profile picture and an instant link to an art website? I can.

Wouldn't it be great if, in time, we could list thousands of artists!

So here's the plan. Go to your Twitters, your Facebooks, your Email address books, blogs and whatever else and invite all artists to come post their websites. Invite every artist you know. With your help, we can create a place where people can come and click on either your profile or your website. Lets simplify finding each other!

It doesn't matter if they are bloggers or not. Just that they are artists with a website!

Here is the direct link to this page. Just click copy link and paste it into any invitation you send out.

Thank you everyone. If this works, its because of you!

Beauty Inside and Out Susan Roux Original oil painting 16x20" $800. unframed

Monday, January 11, 2010

Harlow Gallery

Harlow Gallery is the site of Kennebec Valley Art Association. Its the best art association I've encountered. Since being a member in 2005, many opportunities have opened for me here. I've had memberships in several other associations over the years, but none were as friendly and welcoming as KVAA.

Within the first month that I joined, I remember having five different opportunities. It was more opportunities than other associations offered me in a year! I was instantly amazed by the extent this gallery went to to help support its members. For me it became a gathering place for artists. Its located one hour away in Hallowell, Maine, but the drive never seemed an issue. I couldn't wait to get there, for every time it was always warm and friendly.

Over the years I volunteered my time for various things, from curating/hanging shows to serving on the exhibitions committee, to helping take in art for juried shows. Harlow is where I met Russian master artist, Stas Borodin. He was doing a series of demonstrations while visiting Maine to paint. It was through Stas that I was invited to Saint-Petersburg to exhibit along side of him. Can you imagine Susan Roux and Stas Borodin in an exhibition together in Russia? It still blows my mind that it happened...

My encounter with him was amazing and it began because of Harlow Gallery. He returned to Maine many times to paint and we would set up our easels together, no matter what the weather. Language was difficult, but art kept us laughing and interacting together.

I learned a lot from this wonderful giving man.
Here we are on a dock in Portland, Maine.

This is the wonderful painting Stas Borodin created that day.
It was breathtaking!

After my exhibition in Russia, Harlow Gallery invited me to give a talk on my experience. They've remained honest, supportive and interested every step of the way. It never mattered to KVAA the level of talent an artist had. All were welcomed and treated equally. I think that is an amazing feat! Thank you Harlow Gallery and all the wonderful people who work there.

If you're part of an association that makes you feel like an outsider, I suggest you look for another. It took me awhile to find Harlow, but it was worth all the continued effort. I hope there's a "Harlow" near you!