Monday, December 10, 2012


Purple Passion
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

Company. Isn't it part of the holidays? The best part, I'd say. I have to confess I love having people stay over. Whether loved ones arriving or casual acquaintances, it puts the house in an air of celebration.

Purple Passion developed quite differently than my previous still life. When I look at it, it reminds me of the feeling of holiday company. There's a big difference in hosting a holiday meal and having overnight guests. The meal has the house filled to capacity with a fancy table and wonderful smells wafting through the air. Overnight company, on the other hand, is filled with special quiet moments that can remain in your heart forever. 

Like early morning conversation when only two people in the house have awaken. It doesn't matter that your hair is a mess, nor that you're in your bathrobe. Some nice quality time emerges while sipping your first cup of coffee. Don Hatfield and I met like this every morning when he visited a few years ago. As you can imagine, conversations were always deep and about art. Priceless... The same is true with the evening. Cuddled up in front of the warm fire sipping whatever makes you feel cozy inside. This is what I see when I look at this painting. The fancy of company with warm hugs surrounding it all.

My middle son arrives today. I'm ecstatic. Yes I still have plenty to do before my house is company ready. It's exactly like what I read recently on Sally Rosenbaum's blog, the reason women have difficulty rising in their careers to the same capacity as men is: We don't have wives! Consequently, if we're devoted to our work, the house suffers. Let me tell you, I've been very devoted to my art! So after this post, I'll be busy with a plethora of household chores...

I know I'll miss my routine of painting. I always do in December. My classes will still run as usual for the most part. Students really need the break from holiday madness this time of year. They're so thankful for a reprieve and a bit of stress-free time with a brush in their hands. I too am happy to pick up my brushes. What I miss the most is time to paint on my own. 

Come January I'm usually ready to explode on canvas! (not a bad thing.)

So if I don't post again before Christmas or don't stop by as often as usual, know that I'm cozied up in front of the fire sipping something special with my very welcomed company.

Happy holidays to all of you. May you find time to enjoy those special quiet moments amidst the hustle. I also want to take time to thank all of you for stopping by throughout the year. Whether you leave a comment or not, I love that you take time to pop in. And for those of you who are so dedicated to leaving me a little note, know you're the ones who put a huge smile on my face... Blessings to all and have a safe and happy holiday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Project Graduation Raffle

Magical Garden
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

Are you familiar with Project Graduation?

It's a good program organized by Mom's of high school seniors to raise money for a safe graduation party. I don't know if you recall, but each year there were news of seniors dying in car accidents after celebrating their graduation by partying it up too much. It was sad indeed. So sad actually that parents, mother's particularly, began Project Graduation.

The fundraising goes on all year. A huge alcohol-free celebration is planned. It's a big secret. Not a secret that the fundraising is going on, but a secret as to the location of the party and the activities involved. Depending on the amount raised, more "fun things" can be rented to spice up the party. The seniors are bussed away, directly following the graduation ceremony and don't return until the following morning. It's an all nighter with all their friends and everyone arrives home safe.

Arriving home safe. That's the whole purpose of this project.

I remember one of my sons cruised out on Casco Bay. (That's where Portland Head Light sits.) Imagine the fun all night with the city lights as a backdrop? He recalls it as a blast and so romantic. My other son was taken to a resort. Indoor pool for the whole senior class! How fun! They also had rented sumo costumes. Yes big inflated puffy costumes  and they had wrestling matches. His stories were priceless! 

And everyone arrived home safe...

The above painting is my donation to the project. It's hanging in the school lobby showcase all dressed up in a beautiful 3" gold frame. Raffle tickets are being sold until the drawing on February 9. 

Would you like a chance at winning this original Susan Roux? (I'll tell you, it's much prettier in life than on this photo...) 

Tickets are $3.00 each or $5.00 for two.

It's a great deal! Someone will walk off with Magical Garden at this low price. Shouldn't it be you?

Just send me an email or snail mail me at:

Susan Roux
50 Bishop Rd.
Poland Spring, ME 04274

Your donations are really appreciated. Please take a few minutes to buy a chance. After all, it's like we're giving it away!

Thank you in advance for your kindness. You might also want to contact your local high school and make a donation towards their project graduation. After all it's for the safety of our kids!

Thank you very much.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In the wake of it all

Portland Head Light on Sandy's Heels
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

It was the day following the hurricane.  

I was down in Portland helping my husband hang his photography show. It was nearing noon and he wanted to swing by the lighthouse to snap a few photos of the ocean. The sky was dark. Not my idea of a perfect photo shoot day. As we drove in the winding road of Fort Williams Park we could see huge waves spraying off the fort. Wow, I'd never seen spray like that! It must have reached 30' or more in the air. 

I was surprised to see the parking lot so full. Mike is known to be a storm chaser, but I don't usually tag along. Who would have known there were so many storm chasers? Typically he goes on the following day. I'd have a hard time letting him go during a furious storm, though if it were up to him he'd probably be there. Just as we approached the lighthouse, the thick gray sky opened up. Everything suddenly lit up. The lighthouse brightened into a shooting white tower against the blackened sky. Such drama! The ocean appeared strange to me. The roaring sound seemed to overlap itself creating a stereophonic harmonious rhythm. It was filled with unbelievably powerful energy. Relentless energy. I was deeply moved. The froth it stirred resembled whipped cream. From the safety of the tall cliffs I watched in amazement. The sun shone brightly in the opened sky and all of the lovely sea foam sparkled spectacularly. Mike told me it was high tide and he'd planned to be here at this particular moment. Little did he know the clouds would open briefly for all the shutterbugs gathered. 

The drama was so breathtaking, it was beyond words. How could this scene of beauty be the culprit of the disastrous effects only a short day ago? My emotions were mixed. I felt guilty for finding beauty in what caused so much suffering for others. But it was beautiful. Spectacularly beautiful...

The cliffs circle around the foamy area. When we stood facing the huge sprays, it resembled snowballs exploding like giant fireworks. There was so much froth generated that rather than a typical spray splashing, each droplet became a clump of froth. It was a scene like none I've ever experienced. The sunlight created soft delicate shadows within the clusters. I stood there watching and watching. Wave after wave the energy persisted. I prayed for my friends caught in the disaster. I prayed for everyone caught in it.

It's in moments like these that I recognize how tiny we are. Like little specks on a huge planet. The forces of nature are no match for us. I felt humbled. As the ocean persisted my thoughts drifted in so many directions. All the while, viewing spectacular beauty...

Just as we began to return to our car, the sky closed back up and all became dark again. For photographers, it was a gift of light.

Our photographs could not capture the feeling of being there. The sounds, the cold gentle spray reaching us at times, the ocean's strength and energy couldn't be contained in a still shot. Yet we had a record of being there. 

I began this painting that night. It's been difficult trying to capture my emotions from that day. As usual my art photography is lacking and what you see here is just an echo of the actual painting. It is filled with light and every pastel color you could imagine. 

Recently in my post titled Red, I spoke about popular subjects that have been painted over and over again by artists. The Portland Head Light certainly qualifies as one of those. But you can expect that if I paint it, I'll be giving you a different version than what you're used to seeing. This one is no exception. 

I apologize to anyone this may offend. Know that I'm not insensitive to the horror Sandy caused. I just needed to paint and share my own experience, in the wake of it all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Still life. Really???

Grandma's Tea Set
Original oil painting  20x16"
by Susan Roux

From a teaching point of view, I've been wanting to introduce my students to still life painting for a while now. It requires close attention to values and defined light and shadow patterns. Much like the challenge of doing a figure without the proportions being as important, so long as the overall composition still works.

I wasn't sure how to go about this. Each class meets once a week and it can take a good month to finish a painting. How could I possibly set up a still life that would last that long without being moved? Not to mention any flowers. The other problem I faced was everyone's vantage point would be different. A set-up could be very pleasing from one persons perspective, but very unattractive from another's.

One day the solution came to me.

A photo shoot. Yes, it was that simple.

I'm predominantly a studio painter. I work from images most of the time. Why having images of a still life didn't occur to me is baffling. I did still life work over a decade ago. It fascinated me and made me focus differently than painting landscapes. I enjoyed the challenge a few times a year. Each time, I'd prepare a set-up on my bay window to paint from at the same time of day. It was my time to explore painting from life and I loved the light and colors I'd see.

It came as an unusual thought to paint one from a photograph, but it seemed the perfect solution. So one day I called a student in to help me. Bring along some things that would work in a still life, I said. Much to my surprise, he arrived with a car full of unusual and interesting things. We set up a table in the hallway, the darkest place in the house. A single light source could be brought in. We worked for hours that day, setting up various things on different cloths. Click, click, click went the camera. Artifacts were strewed all over the house by the time we finished.

Those photos sat in my file for at least a month. Last week a class wanted to begin a still life. It hit me that I was perhaps not the best teacher for this, not having done one in so long myself. We began. A loose background and the objects drawn in with paint was the extent of our progress.

I found myself wanting to continue after class, but since I paint along with my students, I couldn't. The next best thing was to do another one on my own. I figured it would really help me direct the class though the process if I did. So here it is. Grandma's Tea Set.

I surprised myself. I don't know if it was the emotion around the memory of my Grandmother or the fact that artists were in and out of my house to paint that day, but something extraordinary seemed to happen.

You work for years trying to establish your own style and define yourself uniquely as an artist. It's odd when you suddenly choose a completely different subject and it falls into place so naturally. The fascination for creating still life feels awakened in me. Where has this desire been hiding all these years?

The artist journey is too complicated to describe in a few phrases. Even to the artist himself, it is full of surprises.

You can expect to see a few more still life paintings show up here. I can't promise they will all turn out like this, but time will tell.

Behind the easel, the adventure continues...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silent Auction

Billowing Cloud
Original oil painting   16x12"
by Susan Roux

I had lunch at a local brew pub today and learned about a cook who'd been hospitalized with a growing number of problems. What started out as shortness of breath was soon diagnosed with failed kidneys and an enlarged heart. A biopsy attempt went awry and accidently cut an artery in his bladder.

This feels like a scenario from a movie script.

The bartender/waitress at Gritty McDuff's continued to inform us that this unfortunate man has a wife and seven kids. Seven kids? I can't even imagine having seven kids when life is going great. With the holidays right around the corner, the added worry and stress of this situation has people opening their hearts to help out. Don't you just love how giving people can be when someone else is in need? It's the true meaning of Christmas.

I'm donating the above painting for the silent auction which takes place on Black Friday, Nov. 23. If you'd like to put in your bid, please call 207-376-2739.

Thank you for your help.

 Wouldn't it make a lovely Christmas gift for someone on your list???

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Daybreak Silence
Original oil painting  20x10"
by Susan Roux

This is the popular red house on Monhegan Island. Some subjects from the island have been painted over and over again. This is true of this unusual house. It sits on a rock face with a small beach tuck inside my hidden cove. Most of the day, this facade is in shadow. I was stunned early one morning as I walked the silent streets at daybreak to see it lit in glorious golden sunlight.

I've never been a follower. I pride myself for seeing things from a different angle. I've been approached before by artists asking where on Monhegan is a particular scene I've depicted? So when I saw the crimson colored house transformed to a stunning cadmium red in morning light, I knew right away I had to paint it.

It's November already and many of us are thinking of holiday art. The color red is suddenly in the forefront of our minds. I had to chuckle at myself for choosing to paint this now, when clearly it appears to be orange next to a true Christmas red.

It's a lovely red and green scene, isn't it?

You can expect the unexpected from me. I work hard. I feel deeply. I notice things that many others never see. My view is often slanted, skewed. The photos I work from are usually from an angle that would be impossible to capture painting plein air. I like to duck low, perhaps with a few forefront flowers veiling the distance. I tingle with joy at offering people a view they wouldn't usually experience.

So if you're used to seeing this house painted in lovely crimson, my version might look unusual to you. Unusual yes, but not a fantasy. Just remember, early in the day it shines in lit-up beauty!

So are you painting red for the upcoming holiday season?

What shade are you using?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Make my day!

Garden Girl
Original oil painting  28x22"
by Susan Roux

It was Saturday evening. Charlie called disguising his voice and asking me to guess who he was. It sounded nothing like him or like anyone else I knew, so I didn't offer a guess. I think he was disappointed I wouldn't even try. 

Whenever anyone does that, I'm always afraid to offend them if I guess the wrong person. 

Charlie is the owner of The Wright Gallery. You know, the one in Cape Porpoise, Maine. He lives upstairs from the gallery. It's a wonderful 3-story old building with an ocean view. He called to tell me that typically at 5:00 he closes his doors and is eager to scoot upstairs and be done with work for the day. But today, he said, my sister is meeting me for diner at 7:00, so I decided what the heck, I'll just leave the front door open until she arrives.

Lucky for me, because someone walked in and purchased Garden Girl! 

I don't usually post my sales, but I did like this little story. The next morning I awoke to an email from the buyer. Oh how I wish they would all contact me after a purchase. It was so refreshing to hear someone's opinion of my work. It's been years since I've done festivals and that wonderful interaction with the buyers is what I miss the most. 

These are the words I read. I was stunned by it on display. It offers to us serenity, warm springs, and bright futures... I feel like I found a gem!

If you're reading Eric, thank you for that. You made my day! I'm so happy she's found a home where she'll really be appreciated. 

I painted Garden Girl the first year I went on artists retreat at the mansion in Freeport. We go during February school vacation. I'm sure you  remember me talking about it before. It's where we host Champagne Thursday... I knew that would jar your memory.

I'm mentioning it because this year we aren't certain we'll return. The cost is high if all the rooms aren't rented out and so far we don't have occupants for a few of them. I know if I don't book it, come February vacation I'll be booting myself for not being there. It's such a productive week filled with laughter, great food and conversation, plus lots of wonderful creative energy. So if any of you would be interested in renting with us, please step forward. 

As always, thanks again for stopping by and leaving your wonderful comments. I do love hearing from you. You all make my day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Who was painting?

Beach Blanket
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

Its the end of the day. The tide is coming in. Time to fold the beach blanket. You're relaxed and comfortable. The sun was warm and you enjoyed nice conversation. You know it's time to go home, but you hate to leave.

These are the thoughts that went through my head as I painted this. 

Outside my window, fall is in the air and just as the day at the beach ends for these two friends, our time to lounge at the beach ends too. The crisp warm tones of autumn, color our trees. Somehow they penetrated my window and found their way onto my canvas. From the very beginning this painting had a mind of it's own.

Do you ever experience that?

I have. Remember the thrashing Scarlet gave me? It took me at least two posts to get her out of my system! I know now that when this happens, it's best to let the canvas lead, then to try and fight it out. In the end, the canvas wins anyway. So as the fall tones spread themselves atop my canvas, I just let it happen and waited to see where it took me.

It's a bit like taking a vacation without a predetermined plan. You may have booked lodging somewhere but the day to day activities are left wide open. The vacation itself is a surprise that unfolds minute to minute. Impulse, people you meet or a sight you drive by can all become influences that carve out your day. Well when you allow a painting to take over, it's very similar.

Each color, each stroke seems predetermined by the previous one. Step by step, minute by minute you watch as it unveils itself to you. At some point during the process of this surrender, you begin to form a new image in your mind as to where the outcome is leading. The canvas steps back a bit. You find you've returned to the driver's seat. Here before you on the easel sits a nearly completed painting. Your brushes are in hand. The palette is filled with mixtures that actually seem foreign to you. It's almost as though you've just stepped out of a trance. Maybe you have. Perhaps it was your muse who took control. You're not sure. But now you find yourself at the helm and it's completely clear that you must make the decisions from this point on to complete the painting.

It's a ride. It can get your adrenaline going. It can send your mind in a tailspin. It can leave you fearful of finishing. It's almost like waking up and someone has painted your canvas for you. How will you possibly complete it? This is not the same as a painting that seems to paint itself. No, those go on like silk. Not a care in the world and everything just falls right into place. 

No. This ride I'm talking about is quite different. 

It's more like someone with better ability has painted most of the canvas and now there you stand with the brushes in your hand needing to finish.

Yeah... This painting was like that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Personality of color

Potted Petunias
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

Do you have a favorite blue? How about yellow?  

Do you have a favorite color in general? Which color couldn't you give up?

I don't know if I could answer any of these questions. I can tell you some colors I don't like. I can tell you some colors that I love to work together. But a favorite? Oh I love color way too much to pinpoint one as a favorite.

My palette started off fairly simple with 7 colors and white. It was my standard and I used it quite successfully for many years. I still teach it to my beginners. As time went on and my journey sent me exploring richer, fuller colors, I began rummaging the color charts. 

I purchased a few random ones, usually to help capture certain flowers I was struggling with. I think you can all identify with that. No matter what subject you're painting there's often a color present that you have difficulty capturing, so a tube close to the pigment becomes of great use to you. 

My purchases evolved in time. I became fixated on certain color families. I remember beginning with yellow. I bought a whole range of yellows. I didn't go crazy with them all at once. The tubes sat nicely available to me. One by one they got promoted to my palette as I saw necessary. It was a good way to get accustomed to them. I think had I put them all on my palette at once, I would have been overwhelmed. 

This way I learned each one individually. I learned how to work them with my existing colors in a way that harmonized with what I was already doing. I played. Mixing them with each color on the palette to see what little surprise they held. 

You'd be amazed how much I learned doing this. 

I don't squirt all my yellows on the palette at once. I've learned how they can assist me. It's a good feeling to have them at my fingertips and be able to go directly to the right one that will capture what I desire. That said, I don't think I ever use a color directly from the tube. It always gets to play with a friend first.

I did the same with blues. I must have at least 7 blues to choose from. Yes there are the old standbys that always have a permanent spot on the palette. Colors that get mixed into other colors no matter what I'm painting. But how about when I'm painting something blue? The sky, water, or beautiful blue blossoms? Having such a selection at my fingertips is priceless. 

In my quest for complex color, this has been a blessing.

Don't be afraid of color my friends. It's the best tool we've got. 

One of my students keeps remarking on the blues in my paintings lately. How do you get those wonderful blues? 

The answer is simple. Have a variety to play with, mixing them with other colors in your painting and soon you'll have a wonderful array of shades that visually dance together. The trick is to get to know each new addition. Think of them having their own personality. Once you understand them, they can be very useful to you.

I have many friends. Lots of personalities... Sometimes I choose to introduce some to each other, but I'm careful to pick the right blend for the right situation. If I have a boisterous friend I might not invite her to lunch with a quiet, somewhat introverted guest. On the other hand, she might be the perfect invitee at an art opening. Who better than to talk up your work? 

The same is true with your colors. If you're working in a sea of pastels, you might not want to use a really loud pigment with it, or be cautious to add in very small doses. Some personalities just go better together...

Have fun and good luck! 

So what's your favorite color again? What personality would you say it has?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living with art

Ava in the Garden
Original oil painting  18x14"
by Susan Roux

What is the value of your art?

I don't mean the retail cost of it. No, not at all. I'm talking about how much it's valued by it's owner.

I was talking to my dear artist friend, Svetlana Beattie. I'd like to share with you the story she told me about a particular painting she'd done.

The lady who purchased her painting had become a close friend. She was a gardner among other things and invited Svetlana to come paint in the garden anytime she wished. It became the artist's point of inspiration for a great number of beautiful works. The relationship between the two grew, one loving the garden the other loving the painter's interpretation.

Two artists in their own right, not only appreciating each others creations, but finding stimulation to enhance their work by seeing it through the other's eyes.

The artist came frequently to paint directly in the garden. So often really, that she had almost become a moving sculpture in the landscape. The gardner had trouble seeing the artist's works leave her property. After all, they were an exquisite emotional response to her flowers and landscape. As it turned out, she would purchase many of them directly upon their completion. It was a very good relationship for both.

The artist had an exhibition and because many of her works were never shown in public, due to the gardner buying them instantly, the artists asked permission to show one of the paintings. At first the gardner didn't want to agree to it, but after some reflection and hard coaxing by the artist, she finally agreed to let it be shown.

Two short days after letting her painting go, the gardner came to the artist begging for her painting back. I can't stand it anymore! This big empty wall. I knew I loved your painting, but I never realized just how much it means to me. Every time I glanced over the painting soothed me, relaxed me. Now that it's missing I feel anxious and irritable. I need my painting back, right away!

It was emotional.

When you begin to live with a piece of original art, it may come as a surprise to the buyer, but you'll be affected by it in many ways. Much like a wine continues to grow and change in the bottle, a painting also has a life all it's own. The artist has projected their soul into it. It is impossible to separate the two. The deeper you look into a piece of art, the more you see and feel the artist.

Light changes in the household and each time, the painting changes as well. This is not a quality saved exclusively for Kinkade's work, though he would have liked to make people think so. Oil paintings change with varied light. It's part of the living quality it possesses.

These things, the soul of the artist, the light changing the painting, speak to the buyer. Living with art improves quality of life. It does exude healing properties. It can relax, de-stress and sooth... A buyer falls in love with the painting and each time he/she views it, it's comparable to viewing one's love. Just as your love can grow for your partner, so it can grow for your art.

The emotional attachment is real.

Now artist, go pour yourselves out on canvas! You never know how much it will inspire or affect someone else, so do your best and make it count. Art is a window into your soul. Put all your passion into it and it will reflect back.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thank you

Cape with a View
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

I'd like to thank everyone who came to the art walk last night. It was a fun evening and your show of support, made it feel extra special. I really liked lingering and chatting with you.

A typical conversation during an opening is finding out what people's favorite painting is. It's easy to see that people have varied taste and you could almost envision their selections matching their personalities. Even my dear friend Ell who said she'd be hard pressed if she had to choose a favorite among them. (She's the type that wouldn't leave anyone out...) How can you beat that?

The art had been up all week and the pub owner let me know about all the wonderful compliments he'd received about my work. He also told me of a client who wanted to buy the entire collection! He said the gentleman would be coming to meet me. Unfortunately he didn't. The thought of someone buying out your entire show is an exciting one indeed! Even if he never came to introduce himself, it still brought a new level of excitement to the night. Perhaps like my friend Ell, he too was hard pressed to choose a favorite.

I have to say, the top contender as favorite was Dream Strolling. 

Dream Strolling  18x24"

I know you've seen it several times before, even as a work in progress, but I keep taking new photos of it to try to capture it better. Sorry to say, this one is still quite shy of capturing the feeling in this piece. It's my favorite in the show as well. I found it comforting to know my judgement was in tune with the vast majority. 

So far no sales from the event... It does stay up for the remainder of the month, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that before it comes down someone will approach me with a sale. After all the entire collection was nearly bought out!

If you missed the event, you can still see it all month at Dock Fore, 336 Fore St. Portland, ME. It's in the Old Port. Stop by and tell Shaun I sent you. 

Earlier in the day, Charlie from the The Wright Gallery contacted me saying he was putting a check in the mail for two paintings he'd sold. All in all, yesterday was a very good day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dock Fore

Sophia in the Garden
Original oil painting  12x16"
by Susan Roux

If you live in Maine, you already know the Portland Art walk is a big deal. It's been in operation for many years and has provided a model for several other cities who've followed suite. The first Friday of the month is reserved for Portland and they continue all year long, even during winter. 

In the beginning it was galleries, studios and the museum open to the public, after hours. It was an opportunity to see artist's at work while sipping wine and nibbling grapes and cheese. The event has grown over the years. Musicians, performers, outdoor vendors and artists have all become part of the action. The streets are filled with every sort of character you can imagine. It's an interesting night out.

I don't live in Portland so being part of the art walk seemed unattainable. Recently I stumbled upon a call to artists who were interested in taking part. I'm happy to say they approved my work and Friday I'll be participating.

The venue is Dock Fore. A nice tiny Irish Pub located at 336 Fore St. in the Old Port. You see it here with the red awning. Shaun McCarthy , the proprietor, has been very nice and welcoming. He'll be more than happy to pour you a brew.

I have 13 pieces hanging around the room. I'll be on location from 5-8, so please do come around to meet me and say hi. It's your opportunity to see my work in person and not through the inferior-quality photos I keep posting for you to see here. My solo exhibit is titled: Scents and Sensuality. It's a combination of figures and floral landscapes.

I hope you stop in. I'll be looking forward to your visit!

Dock Fore
336 Fore St.
Portland, ME

Friday, September 7 from 5-8

Thanks Shaun for this opportunity and to my husband, Mike McAllister, for the photos...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Successful workshop

Sun Kissed
Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

I pushed them out of their comfort zone.

Isn't that what a workshop's all about? You don't go there to do what you already do. You go to learn. The color workshop I just finished teaching was in my eyes very successful. The students were open to experimenting and by day three, it was evident they had learned a lot about color.

I have to thank Home Depot for making so many color swatches available. It was a great way to play with color in a tangible way. The first step to loosening up with color is not to fear it. The more you understand about it and how it works, the less fearful you become. Who's afraid of playing with colored squares of paper?

We worked a series of short exercises. These were great reminders of certain basic principles. As the workshop progressed and students struggled, a quick reminder about an exercise that targeted that very thing, instantly put it into perspective for them. 

I found my students eager to play with color and I have to say they seemed pretty fearless in their approach. Understanding that a workshop painting is not intended to be a masterpiece, is important. It's an experiment applying new principles. It can take awhile for new knowledge to take hold. Practice, practice, practice. It's the key to adopting any new knowledge as your own.

Here you can see a students progression from early on to nearing completion. 

The workshop was held in a local Grange Hall. It was well lit, spacious and filled with tables that allowed us to spread our stuff around. 

Some students chose to work on a single piece while others began a few. The beginning stages held the biggest change from their usual approach. It opened opportunities to explode with color. This was their moment to be wildly and spontaneously creative. Follow the gut instinct. Once the painting was in session, those initial choices effect every other color you apply to the canvas.  Of course we didn't neglect the importance of value. It is after all the tool for defining objects. Color on the other hand is the key to emotion...

I opened the workshop with a quote from South African artist, Petru Viljoen. In referring to color, he said:

Now we're entering the world where angels dance... 

I thought it very appropriate for describing poetry in a painting. The world where angels dance. What a lovely, delicate, pure image it brings to mind. 

The top painting, Sun Kissed was the workshop demo on day one. Here you see me finishing Dream Stroller which was posted in progress when I wrote about creative color comparing it to wine. I don't usually develop a painting so much before adding a figure. But this time, it's how it came to be. 

If you're interested in taking a workshop at some point in time, please contact me. I'll be repeating this workshop in the months to come. 

Note: I figured out some of my photography issues with regard to my paintings. Sun Kissed is the perfect example. Some areas have less layers of paint than others. Often my less important distant passages are placed in rather quickly, neutralizing right from the start. Since there is less paint there, the light passes through to the canvas and bounces back to my camera as light. So rather than the background receding as in the actual painting, it appears to leap forward not neutralized at all! Argh, no wonder I've been frustrated... If you really squint at my images, they'll resemble the original a bit more.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Workshop week

Midday Warmth
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

It's a crazy busy week over here. School's starting, my workshop begins on Wednesday and I'm hanging an exhibition on Saturday. Life glides along so smoothly at times, but on weeks like this, everything collides and culminates all at once. It leaves me spinning.

Not much time for easel staring...

I'm sure you understand this. I miss painting and find myself almost aggravated for not planning well enough to still include painting time. It's moments like this when you realize just how much you need to paint. It isn't just a desire, it feels as necessary as breathing.

Midday Warmth was painted from a photo. It's the back porch entrance at The Wright Gallery in Cape Porpoise where Charlie hangs many of my paintings. I know the photo is a bit fuzzy. I've been trying to experiment with the camera lately, in attempt to rectify my continuing problem. I photographed this zoomed out a bit to get some of the surrounding objects and colors. I found the colors registered much closer in accuracy to my painting, however clear definition was sacrificed. I thought my camera could handle it...

As artists we need to do so many things right. Paint, photograph, write, frame, curate. Which reminds me, I still need to do a bio for my exhibition... I better get to work. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. I love when you leave me comments!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ready, set, action!

Evening Light - Monhegan
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

Somedays are just special. They stand out above others for what they held. You know what I'm talking about. Those days when you're doing nothing particularly special when suddenly something far beyond your imagination happens, transforming it into an incredible day that will remain in your memory forever.

Well, to be fair, it wasn't exactly like I wasn't doing something special. I was on Monhegan painting at the time...  But that in itself is a typical thing to be doing on Monhegan. Lavina, a student of mine had come to join me and this particular day, we planned to paint from the front lawn of her rental. It was located up the first hill just as you arrive on the island.

Three boats a day bring people to the island. I found it quite fascinating to see how many people arrive in a very short time. It wasn't a problem to stay focused on my work, because I had set up with my back to the street and also to this lovely scene depicted in Evening Light - Monhegan. Lavina laughed and commented on how many times I'd been photographed by the day trippers. I had been totally unaware of them and their clicking cameras or phones.

Out of an arriving cluster, a student in her mid-20's approached us. She was from the Rockport Film School and on the island for the day on assignment. I need to make a quick documentary that coincides with an older painting I've selected and would it be ok if I filmed you painting? 

What do you say to that?

I was just there doing my work. She could film me if she wanted. Sure, why not?

Well she neglected to tell me she would interview me.

Seriously??? I felt myself wanting to back out...

The next thought that passed through my head was, how was anything interesting ever going to happen to me if I didn't take risks when the opportunities presented themselves? I swallowed hard and agreed to participate. Meg and her friend went through quite some trouble wiring me, concealing everything. Only to have it all completely exposed in the final video...

This experience definitely falls into the category of special moments as described in a previous post.

Here's a series of photos taken during our film session. I had the insight to hand my camera to Jerry Cable who lives next door. Thanks for taking the shots Jerry.

Meg would ask me questions, but I had to reply like I was just talking about it on my own. It was difficult to do at first. You automatically wanted to just reply to her question.

The filming went on for quite some time. I was surprised at the shortness of the final film with all the interviewing they did.

Here you can see a passerby clicking to capture the action going on. 

So here I am in a film debut. (I tried to attach it directly here, but it kept malfunctioning.) I'd been outside painting since 7:00 am. Hair blowing in the ocean breeze and raw as it gets for an artist. No time to comb my hair or fix myself up in any way. Why don't these things happen in our youth???

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wine and color

Bend in the Road
Work in progress  18x24"
by Susan Roux

No, this is not a drinking post. This is a reflection on where my art journey has sent me lately.

Complex color.

I've been pondering this for quite some time now. My paintbrush furiously seeks it. My eyes are beginning to open to it, hopefully my mind is beginning to understand it. I know I've only brushed the surface, but a year ago I didn't even stop for a minute to think about it. An art journey is like that. We become aware of certain things we never noticed before and our exploration of that element becomes our new focus until we finally get a grasp on it and hopefully make it your own. It's what keeps artists so motivated and powering forward. It's also what makes artists feel like they can't ever paint anything good enough. There's always so much more we seek to capture.

My best description of complex color comes from relating it to wine.

We all know that wines can be very complex. The connoisseur can identify subtleties in the flavor that most of us cannot detect nor specify. Be it certain fruits, flowers, spices, wood and even fungi, the palate must be very developed to distinguish many of these wonderful nuances.

Expensive wines perhaps have more complexity than really inexpensive wines. Yet for every wine out there, a buyer exists that will swear by it. The flavors found in the wine may be complex or not. If the individual drinker has not developed their palate they can drink happily completely unaware of the difference.

That being said, I think there are satisfied buyers for every type.

I believe the same is true of color.

If a painting is constructed of simple straight from the tube colors, will the unknowledgeable viewer know it? Probably not. They may be simply attracted to the image portrayed. We all know a handful of subjects that sell because of their popularity. Need I mention lighthouses? An untrained eye looks at a discernible subject and sees very little difference with one that is masterfully executed. On the other hand, someone that is educated in art or has spent hours upon hours honing their skills, the execution of the work is far more important than the subject matter itself. A deeper appreciation for the subtleties exists.

What is complex color?

Think of the difference between a gray from a tube compared to the unlimited combinations of grays achieved by neutralizing those colors on your palette. The subtleties you can achieve and the varying pull towards certain color pigments are so superior to that of the tube gray, yet the untrained eye will see both as gray on a painting. Multiply that to include every color you use and you'll begin to get a glimpse at the idea of complex color.

Stas Borodin told me some Japanese could discern 100 colors in black. I know Monet found countless shades in gray. Those artists fixated on capturing light won't just use a buttery color to depict it. No. There will exist a whole variety of shades and subtle colors, if it's done masterfully.

Yes there will be those who teach less values is key to a strong painting. I don't agree. It's a good place to start to understand how value works in a painting, but a well executed work with a full value range can bring a viewer to tears. Go look at the master works in your local museum. Sorolla and Sargent didn't limit themselves to 3-5 values. They played in complex colors...

The longer you look at your subject the more colors you'll be able to discern. This is even true of a photograph. Trying to capture every color you see while the number increases the longer you observe, can be daunting. As a representational artist, I think these things hold the secret to continuously improving your art. Now attempt to add creative spontaneity to the mix and you'll begin to get an idea where my mind's been existing lately.

So complex, it's hard to put into words...

Not only is complex color hard to achieve, control and wrap your brain around, it's far too complex for the camera to comprehend... Photographing my work has become impossible. I hope you can get to see it in person sometime.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Don Stone, NA

Monhegan Blues

Original oil painting  20x16"

by Susan Roux


Great moments. Special moments. Are you experiencing them?

I hope you're not waiting around for them to simply happen. It helps to set up opportunities that allows them to occur. Put your wheels in motion by sewing a few seeds that just might flourish into something special and deliciously unexpected. It's what keeps life interesting. My summer has been filled with such moments.

Like the day Russia called. Or the moment master artist, Don Stone was inquiring all over Monhegan Island for me. I'm sure he didn't remember my face, but there he was speaking my name to everyone he saw. Imagine my shock and delight when a new acquaintance approached me with the news that Don Stone was looking for me! I'm certain my jaw hit the ground briefly, but I quickly tried to regain my composure like it was a natural occurrence. Don Stone, NA uttering the name Susan Roux. To this day, it still makes me laugh to think he was talking to everyone about me.

Where is Susan Roux? She told me she'd be on the island this week and I'm still waiting for her to come visit!

Yes I did write to Don with my arrival date. I expected to introduce Stas Borodin, my Russian master artist to him. But we were only a few short days into our stay... All the stimulation Monhegan holds, makes it difficult to find time to take the short uphill walk to Don's studio.

Stas was reluctant to go. Taking precious daylight painting time to go visit an artist's studio was not his idea of fun. But I dragged him away anyhow, all the while agreeing to his 5 minute visit allotment.

Who's that greeting us at the door?

It's none other than Don Stone himself waiting for us at his studio. I have to tell you, the visit lasted longer than 5 minutes... After all, how can you rush the opportunity to view his incredible art? Even master Stas was amazed! 

If you find yourself on Monhegan, do yourself a favor and go meet this witty charming man. You won't regret loosing painting time to this experience. Tell him Susan Roux sent you. He knows who I am now...

It was wonderful to see two great artists appreciating each others work. Here is Don at an impromptu exhibition I set up for Stas on Monhegan. Yes I do it all. Paint, hosts artists, introduce artists, set up exhibits and be the immediate PR person. It might be a lot, but it leads me to some really amazing special moments. Special moments that make my heart smile.

I hope you're having some of your own too!

Note: Monhegan Blues is how you feel after you return home from Monhegan and reflect with all those amazing photos you took of the place...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Experience color

Dew Drop In
Original oil Painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux


It's one of the most fascinating things about painting. It can lead the eye through a specific journey on your canvas. It can create an ambiance. It can define distance and space. It can imitate sunshine and shade. It can scream or whisper. It can be playful and exciting or it can be bland.

As artists we get to control the roll it takes in our work. 

It takes a long time to understand color. There's so much to learn because it's a very complex subject. A color used incorrectly can stand out like a sore thumb. One single stroke out of place and suddenly it changes everything. The value (light or dark) of a color must be correct along with how concentrated or neutralized (grayed) it is. 

Learning to embrace the grays will add richness to your colors and your work. There's emotion in those mud puddles on grayed color. The trick is to know how to use it correctly and be in control of it. 

Understanding the properties of color enables you to take control. At times you've probably heard or read about certain concepts but have had difficulty wrapping your brain around them. Trying to paint with a particular focus in mind that you don't totally understand can be frustrating. So much so, that it can throw you into painter's block! That happens when you begin to be aware of a concept but don't totally understand it, yet try to implement it into your work. 

Simplifying things and learning them one step at a time can be your detour around that painter's block. Trying to push too much information into your brain at once only confuses. Having time to try new things, experiment with them, helps the mind grasp the concept. Not only is it something you hear or read, it is also something you try.

This will be the goal in my upcoming workshop, held August 10, 11, 12. 

I've been teaching for over 10 years. I teach to beginners and if I've learned anything over all this time it's how to explain things in the simplest way possible! So if you've been painting awhile and do pretty well but would like to learn more on the subject of color, my workshop is for you. I'm limiting class size to ten students so each one will get individualized attention.  

Come play with color. Come take the fear out of it and place yourself in control. All levels are welcomed. If you're interested or think you might be interested, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'll be happy to help you with your lodging needs as well. 

Maine is beautiful in August. You can begin your holiday with a three day workshop to get you primed and stimulated then continue on to practice your lessons in the lush coastal setting that is Maine.

The above painting Dew Drop In is exhibited at The Wright Gallery, Cape Porpoise, Maine. Please contact Charlie if you're interested in purchasing it. Thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Red House
Original oil painting  20x10"
by Susan Roux

Two days ago, Russia called.

It was pretty much passing as an ordinary day. A little excitement stirred as I'd just got word that my art was selected to hang in Portland's art walk during the month of September. The last time my art was up in Portland for a month, I sold 7 paintings. It's hard to forget such a thing and so the excitement about showing again had me smiling and bubbling.

I was behind my easel working on the above painting. My mom was here painting with me. A real special treat. I was down to tweaking my flowers when the phone rang. Luckily I had the insight to place the handset near me and didn't have to go running to answer it. A quick glance at the caller ID made me utter, who's that calling?

Hello Susan. It's Stas Borodin.

You may not know who Stas Borodin is, but I certainly know him well. He's the Russian artist responsible for my exhibition in Saint-Petersburg in June of 2008. A call from Stas is always a welcomed thing!

Stas is a world traveler. He's kind and friendly, making jokes you sometimes don't understand due to the language barrier, but his hardy roar of laughter and a smile that rivals the cheshire cats makes you laugh right along with him! Some people you just feel blessed to have cross paths with and Stas is one of those people. I'm honored to have met such a man. 

He's a master artist. I know, they're rare in today's society and oddly I've had the privilege to meet and paint with two. Don't ask me why I've had these opportunities? I couldn't tell you. Mike says I'm just lucky. 

Perhaps he's right. 

Stas will be visiting in a month. He paints daily. Not at all like some daily painters that take an hour or two a day to paint. No. He lives to paint. From sunup to sundown, he'd be swatting his brush around if he had his way. Stas loves the coast, harbors specifically and we'll be making the jaunt early in the morning so he can take in a full day of painting. He comes equipped for all types of weather and I've never seen a downpour strong enough to keep him from doing his passion. The world is his studio and he is always happily at work!

He's dreamed of going to Monhegan Island. You know, the artist's island 13 miles off the coast of Maine. I really wasn't planning on going to Monhegan this summer, but it seems my plans changed. Yesterday I made reservations from July 8 to the 13. I can only imagine what it will be like to experience it with Stas. A whole new way at looking at a familiar place, I suspect...

I may have the pleasure of his company for two weeks time. He'll run me ragged, I'm sure of that, but it'll be a good ragged. 

Stas always has opportunities up his sleeve. He invited me to join him at a symposium in Normandy, France in September. Oh how I wish! The last symposium he invited me to was at a monastery in Russia. If sales ever begin to skyrocket again, I'll have saved up some money to actually take him up on his offers. These symposiums he speaks of are a gathering of artists from different nations in one place to paint for a few weeks, followed by an exhibition of the work done during that time. Yes! Such things really happen! Doesn't that sound amazing?

Someday. Maybe someday...

So if your phone ever rings and it's a call from Russia, answer it. Who knows it just may be a jolly master Russian artist!

The above painting, Red House, is a crop from a larger piece I'm working on with my Thursday afternoon class. I wanted to paint it wet on wet and it's impossible to do that with my class work. Long periods of drying occur as it sits idly waiting for the next week's session. It's a scene from Ireland. The village is Roscrea. I was told it's the fourth oldest village in Ireland. It was a beautiful place. A cross between ancient and new.

I wrote about Stas last year when he visited. It's here if you care to read more.

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your visit. Please leave me a little hello, just so I'll know you passed through... 

Have a great day, allowing good surprises to happen to you!