Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nicole Mackintosh

Original oil painting 16x20"
by Susan Roux

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. As some of you already know, I have a young niece with DIPG. She was diagnosed with this terminal brain tumor in January of last year.

This photo was taken prior to her life altering diagnosis. A beautiful, soon to be 8 year old, child with an enormous heart. She has undergone so much in the past 16 months, I could never begin to put it into words. Today, this is a photo of Nicole.

Her disease and treatments have altered her appearance almost beyond recognition. One thing however has not changed, her enormous loving heart. She is seen here pushing a filled grocery cart. Not a cartful purchased by mom that she helps push to the car. No, it is a cartful that she willingly purchased with coins she worked very hard to earn in order to buy food for the poor.

Several moths ago, she decided on her own to do this project for the local food pantry. She asked to be paid for doing odd jobs around the house. Odd jobs that had become a difficult task for a child in her condition. Her heart ached for people who couldn't afford to buy things such as food. She earned the money, made out a shopping list, went shopping and recently delivered her gift. Just pushing the cart was difficult as she often needs a wheelchair to get around these days. I don't know if this special project was prompted by her insatiable appetite due to steroids, bringing her to an acute understanding of what it means to hunger or simply God working through her to teach us all a beautiful lesson in selflessness and giving.

Most likely all of you have lost a loved one to cancer or know a cancer survivor. What is this terrible disease? Where did it come from? I fear our corporations have released countless chemicals over decades into our air, rivers and land. What happened to the fallout of all the nuclear testing of yesteryear? What about present day nuclear catastrophes? In a quest to improve our lives, is it possible humans have only sabotaged them?

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Hundreds of young children, beautiful young children like Nicole, suffer from this. Unfortunately too little goes into finding a cure. Unlike Nicole's selfless act, when the cost to find a cure outweighs the profits to be made, funding for research gets pushed aside. What are we waiting for?

People are going green to help save our planet, but what about companies, corporations? What about all that's been released into our world? Will anyone stand accountable? After all, our planet isn't the only thing suffering...

May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spare time

Stonington Ledge
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux

Getting back to normal.

At least I hope so. My life has been flying at a faster pace than usual and I'm very happy to return to my simple routine. Isn't that funny about routines? They can become so mundane and make you fell stuck in a rut, but lose if for too long and you're quite happy to return to it. This week my only commitments are the classes I teach. I wonder if I can get to the end of the week without creating new ones for myself...

It's usually a challenge.

I don't know about you, but I can't seem to keep my idle time idle for very long. As soon as there is spare time, I begin to fill it up. The same is true of my desk. My students know it is a piled mess. An organized mess though. I can usually find what I want in seconds. What my students don't know is if I take a day to clean it, I no sooner begin to fill it up again. Not just with random papers. Oh no. I start searching the internet finding things to apply to or getting ideas and of course I don't want to forget all this information I'm compiling, so it goes on paper. Lots and lots of paper. Then books and notebooks and folders followed by post-it notes and tiny pieces of different colored notepad paper to keep my thousands of thoughts in order. In the end, there isn't any order to be seen. Clutter covering my entire desk.

So as much as I would love to have a clean desk, I almost fear cleaning it. Fear of giving myself more projects!

For this week, I'll retreat to my easel. I've missed spreading paint around. How long has it been since I've painted one of my dreamy beach girls? Too long, I say.

Stonington Ledge is one of nine paintings I recently delivered at Blue Hill Bay Gallery (not to be confused with the Blue Heron Gallery), located in lovely Blue Hill, Maine. I stopped in to visit Peter, the owner, last June during my weeklong get-a-way to Deer Isle in quest of painting lupines. He agreed to represent me starting this year. You remember, right? Stonington is a lovely fishing village located on the tip of Deer Isle. Painting works for Peter was a real joy. The scenery up there is calming and beautiful. Much like the people who inhabit the area. The pace reminded me of Ireland. It's so fulfilling to know such places exist and when we really wish to slow down, we can retreat to these little gems to participate and be rejuvenated in their ways.

Another interesting fact about this painting is I did it with some beginner students. It was their 3rd painting. Yes, you read that correctly. Third painting. I won't tell you we did it in a snap, but without any pencil drawing, I let them through this complex painting, step by step. Their results were astounding! I had second year students watching this painting develop and feeling they were still not ready for such a composition. But seriously, I could have led them through it as well...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stas Borodin

Susan Roux
Painting at Great Falls, Auburn Maine

I've been absent from Blogworld for awhile, but with good reason.

A very unexpected visitor came to stay with me last week. The Russian artist I mentioned recently in my post about the traveling painting, Stas Borodin, phoned me out of the blue announcing he was in Providence, RI and had some free time to come to Maine. It's been three years since I've seen or heard from him. How odd that at the moment I mention him, he contacts me.

Stas has never stayed with me before, though I've painted with him many times. This was a new experience for all of us. Being with Stas means one thing. Every day, no matter the weather, you go out to paint all day long. If you recall my last post, I was telling you how exhausted I've been. I wasn't in the best condition for the start of a Stas visit. I have to say, keeping up with Stas nearly killed me. My typical day of sitting at the computer blogging with morning coffee and standing in front of my easel in a warm house with Luka Bloom serenading me was a far cry from Stas's normal day. That said, my time with him was very precious and though tiring, I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Stas is a master.

I've been talking to you lately of the importance of fundamentals and how they're no longer taught in today's schools and universities. To really learn them, one must do so from the masters of today. If they don't pass down this knowledge, it will be lost forever within a few decades. That sad thought ripples up my spine. So no matter how tired I was, when a master offered to come paint with me, there was no hesitation to say yes!

If you've been reading any blogs from other Mainers, you already know the weather has been windy, rainy and cold. What was predicted to be a warm sunny week, turned quite differently when a large storm stalled out in the Atlantic, turning and churning the clouds overhead. I only froze on day one. Afterwards wearing my modern day long-john's became daily attire.

Stas is a wonderful person. Don't let the things the government taught us about Russians years ago scare you. If you've had the pleasure to know any, you already know how nice and gentle they really are. Stas is no exception. His kind soul pours out on canvas. His paintings are timeless, brilliantly orchestrated with layers of colors that vibrate the eye and shine with similar luminosity of the inside of a shell. His strokes are broad and rigid, like mosaic tiles scattered atop the canvas. His compositions are unusual. Not the typical lead in with pointers to direct the eye. His paintings grab you with something, some object, and once in, your eye dances a happy vibrating dance bouncing around pleasurably throughout flecks of color. His work is impressionistic. The light it emulates is captivating and entrancing. His work is not always understood at first glance, but get into a roomful of his art and you find yourself touched with a flood of emotion. A rainbow of pastels and grays surround you and with such softness speak the emotions of a well traveled man.

Stas is a unique artist in today's world. It's never about money. It's always about painting. He travels for months at a time with minimal baggage. His art supplies and a few clothes. From country to country, staying with friends he's made along the way, he hops around the world with magnificent stories and a smile on his face. He'll sell a painting right off the easel to a passerby. A few dollars in his pocket help him hop the next bus out of town. He arrives without notice and leaves like the wind blowing pass.

It feels like a quick dream. There is no contact. His cell phone is a Russian number. He doesn't have a laptop. You pinch yourself wondering if it was even real. But photos and a few paintings left behind are proof that he was really here.

He left for NYC where his paintings from Providence and Maine are being exhibited as I write. I got a sneak peek at the entire body of work. It's magnificent. I can't even tell you the venue. Communication is choppy and sometimes difficult. All I can tell you is it's a former synagogue turned art center on Manhattan. Also on view there is an exhibit of the famous Russian artist, Ilya Repin. If you can decipher this code and are nearby, do yourself a favor and go visit.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Original oil painting 28x22"
by Susan Roux

Where does the time go? I feel as though it's whizzing by!

I think I'm trying to do too much. I'm running on exhaustion lately and still have plenty of things I'd like to get to. Energy. Lack of energy and a tired body slow me down. I heard this could (would) happen with age... Don't you just hate it when they're right?

Thoughts usually ricochet in my head like the silver ball in a pinball machine. Creative thoughts, imaginative thoughts, even organizational thoughts. So many thoughts and ideas, it's often hard to sleep because they don't turn off. Today I sit before you with a blank mind. It seems so strange. I know it's because it wants to shut down and sleep, but not today. There is still too much to do.

Here is my latest girl. Charlie at The Wright Gallery sold Sundress after having her for a week. This is for him. I'll be delivering it early next week, hopefully. It's like my husband says. Charlie can't sell them if I don't paint them.

Words of wisdom.