Friday, April 27, 2012

Is it just Spring?

Jardin d'Amour
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

Perhaps it's spring, but I feel something trying to sprout in my work. It's similar to hitting a wall and coming around the other side with added knowledge or clarity about something. Only there's no wall. I feel myself bubbling almost percolating inside. (and no, it isn't anything intestinal... I knew what you were thinking) It's like an excited child in there, full of energy. I want to paint all the time. It feels like a painting high and it's pouring out from my creative side.

Did you read Keith Bonds article titled Recuerdos de la Alhambra and your art?  It was a wonderful article about needing a balance between fundamentals and passion. It's what I talked about as my New Year's resolution goal.  It all comes down to knowing the rules, yet still applying your own creative voice to it. I'm sure you've all seen art that is correct in defining its forms, yet is void of emotion. It usually leaves you feeling flat. Because the painting has no emotion, it gives you no emotional reaction. One of my students recently told me of a work of art she saw while on vacation. It brought her to tears. She found herself in a public place crying and a bit shocked about it. An embarrassing moment for her, but the ultimate compliment for the artist.

I believe this is what masterpieces are made of. Just the right balance of the two.

My crazy emotional side is rallying for attention! I must have spent too much time focused on my fundamentals and it got a bit jealous. Hopefully all that time spent on them translates into some of my natural instincts now. (I can wish, can't I?) Anyways, I'm not questioning it at the moment. Exploding on canvas these days is too much fun. I just want to ride the wave!

Oh yes, there's been experimenting in the process.

I'm working the brush in ways I've never used it before. Pushing instead of pulling. Push and twirl even! It's as though I'm fearless and trust my heart will pull me out of whatever jam I put myself into.

I'm watching and observing everything that's happening as I try new things. I didn't know you could teach your creative side, but it seems to be what I'm experiencing. It's elating!

Flowers seem to be a good subject to experiment in. They can be so forgiving, bouncy and happy. Not to mention a party of color!

I know everything I'm trying isn't perfect. But after all, isn't it what makes the whole journey worthwhile in the first place? 

I hope you're having fun experimenting too. It is spring you know, so allow something new and exciting to spring out of you! (I haven't used this many exclamation points since I was about thirteen. Can you tell I'm excited? I told you, just like a little kid inside me full of wonderful playful energy! I hope he sticks around for awhile...)

I also want to thank all of you for stopping by and commenting. It means so much to me and I rarely take time to let you know how special you are to me. So thanks for visiting, my friends!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How old are you?

Original oil painting  12x30" gallery wrap
by Susan Roux

I remember having tea with John Morris while touring his studio in Ireland. John had lots to say about art and the business of art. He was so interesting to listen to. One of the things he described was how the artists community was like tiers of a cake. I didn't get what he was saying so I asked him to elaborate. This is what he told me.

The bottom tier is the largest. It's where an artist begins. There are lots and lots of people on this tier. Lots and lots of people proclaiming to be artists or creative. As an artist develops and improves they rise to a higher tier. The tiers, he said, quickly become quite small compared to the bottom one. He suggested that it was very easy to communicate with an artist on your own tier, but trying to have a great artistic relationship with someone on a different tier, was much harder. Especially, he noted, with someone on a tier or two beneath you. The very top tier is the smallest where only a few artists reside and he suspected they must all know each other.

It's an interesting concept and I thought about what he said many times. I have to agree that it's easier to relate and communicate artistically with someone on your own tier. I'm sure many of you can relate to loosing art friends as your ability developed. For one, as you do develop, your understanding of certain things deepen and it's difficult to have the same conversations with an artist who has not experienced or has not gained knowledge of these things. 

I remember telling my mother that my mind was opening to knowledge about color that I never even knew existed. She wanted to know what. But it was difficult to put into words. All I could do was give a glimpse, a suggestion of what I was talking about. I remember feeling so alone. I had acquired this amazing new knowledge and had no one to converse with about it.

Perhaps John is right about the tiers, but I see it a little differently. For me, the artists journey resembles that of a person growing. We first begin all excited, wow I can do this. Like the young child who wants to have all their work up on the refrigerator, you eagerly show others what you've achieved. You glow with their compliments. Then adolescence hits. You become shy about what you're doing because you feel it's inferior to others works that you admire. You push on however and soon like a late teen or early twenty, you feel it's so simple and rejoice that you know it all! Unfortunately your bubble is burst as you move into your mid twenties. Suddenly you realize you have a lot more to learn. As you continue through your adulthood, gaining information and honing your skills, you eventually come to a place where you realize you'll never know all there is to know or understand about art. The more you learn, the harder it becomes. With continued work and learning, I think we'll keep growing all the way to old age. 

I chuckle when I look back to a time when I thought all this was so easy...

I think perhaps I'm somewhere in my late thirties possibly early forties, as far as development. It's a little hard to judge. I do know I still have a long way to go. Unlike actual aging, I think it's possible to leap through several years, possibly decades at times. A great teacher can propel you forward. 

So how old do you think you are in your artist journey?

(And in case you didn't know, Don Hatfield is a great teacher and will be teaching 3 workshops here in Maine in August. Contact me for more information.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Old World Serenity
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

I don't know what it is about Europe, but for as long as I can remember it feels like it's been beckoning me. Perhaps it's the ancient. Perhaps it's my ancestry or perhaps it's works of art I've seen depicting it that pulls at me. I'm really not sure. All I know is the feeling has always been powerful.

For years, I never thought I'd get there. Sometimes life turns and suddenly you find yourself where you never thought possible. Who would have predicted an invitation to exhibit in Russia would get me there? But it did. I've been overseas twice now and I hope to return again. The lovely scene depicted is from Ireland. This wonderful place stole my heart though I'm not of Irish decent.

Sometimes new worlds can open up for you by means of a simple invitation.

Those words: Please Come or You Are Invited can open opportunities you might otherwise have thought impossible. Have you ever gone somewhere unexpected because of an invitation? Have you ever wished you had been invited to something you weren't? Sometimes invitations can trigger one to suddenly do something new and adventurous.

I've come to realize that many people are never invited to things. Especially people of prominence. Lets put this in terms of art. Is there a gallery you'd love to be represented by? What about the owner? How often do you think they get invited to art openings? Sure they host plenty of them, but do you really think they get invited outside their own gallery for something artistic? It's a bit unlikely.

I have to admit, I'm often spurred by impulse. I get a crazy idea that might be really out there and before I can talk myself out of it, I act upon it. I know it can be a mistake. Spontaneity isn't always your best friend. But most of the time it hasn't steered me wrong.


Surprises can happen with them.

Are you feeling in a rut? Are you feeling humdrum? Invite somebody unexpected and see what happens. Nora Kasten invited me several years ago to come visit when she found out I was going to Florida for a vacation. Such a simple gesture that led to our friendship/relationship. She's since come to Maine and we've had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time together.

I invited Don Hatfield a few years back. Just like that. A simple invitation to come to Maine. Look at all that has led to! Looking back it seems completely impossible that that tiny little gesture would lead to him becoming my mentor.

What's the worse thing that can come from an invitation? They decline???

I could go on and on about people I've invited and the opportunities that arose from it.

Take this painting for instance. I came to this little town because I contacted Irish artist Owen Rohu before I traveled to Ireland. I invited him to paint with me. The invitation didn't lead to painting together, but it did lead to being invited to his home where I visited his studio, had stimulating conversation about the art world in his country and lunch with his lovely wife and children.

If you would like opportunities to open up for yourself, try beginning with an invitation. You might be very surprised who'll accept!

I would like to extend an invitation to  you. Please come to Maine in August. Don Hatfield will be teaching 3 wonderful workshops. (Did you know he doesn't teach a circuit of them? You'll need to come to Maine. This is sort of an exclusive!)

Here are the dates:

August 1 2 3: Portrait Workshop

August 6 7 8: Still life Workshop

August 10 11 12: Figurative Workshop (in costume)

Cost is $300. for one workshop, $500. for two and $700. for all three. A $100. deposit is required at signup with the balance due July 1, 2012.

Please contact me for further information. As mentioned in my last post, Don Hatfield focuses on the fundamentals. No matter how experienced you are, whether a beginner or seasoned artist, taking his workshop will improve your work. Don is funny, honest and won't teach you gimmicks. He'll give you the knowledge you personally need to move forward with your art. I highly recommend it and promise you won't regret taking it.

Plus you get to meet me!


Note: The above painting is exhibited and for sale at the Blue Heron Gallery, Wellfleet MA (Cape Cod) Please contact owner, Roy Thurston, if you're interested in purchasing it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Don Hatfield Workshop 2012

Nature's Dance
Original oil painting  12x36"
by Susan Roux

Basic fundamentals. I can't say enough on the importance of them. I don't care how seasoned an artist you are or if you're just a beginner, those fundamentals are of utmost importance to the representational painter. Sure there's creativity and you may want to simplify things in your own way as part of your creative voice. But without a clear understanding of the fundamentals, your work will remain a hit or miss sort of thing. Some are good and other's ...not so much. 

The artist's journey is lifelong for most of us. In this journey we strive to find our unique voice and hope to see continued growth. We're usually our worse critics, often allowing that terrible voice inside to spook us.  Art is a very revealing thing. It's pouring yourself out on canvas, exposed to the masses. Criticism crushes often giving voice to that inner demon. The best way to arm yourself against it is having clear knowledge of the basic fundamentals.

How good is your foundation? Solid? Shifting? Crumbly? Wouldn't it be great to answer Solid with confidence?

I for one, would like more confidence in that department...

Don Hatfield. It's not uncommon for his name to pop up on this blog. (By now, I think it's even surpassed Luka Bloom! How can that be???) Don is not only my mentor, he has grown to be a very dear friend. The longer I know him, the more he amazes me. As an artist, I've admired his work since I first came upon it in the early '90's. His voice is filled with soft beautiful color and arrangements that let the viewer dream. Serolla and Sargent are among his favorites and it's easy to see signs of their inspiration in his work. Basic fundamentals are strong in all these great artists.

Nowadays, you can sign up for workshops from all sorts of "masters". I can't vouch for their teaching abilities. I can however vouch for Don's. His focus is Basic Fundamentals. Improve on those and your art improves. Plain and simple.

Are you finding yourself stagnating? Could your art use a little more Punch? Definition? Impact? Emotion? Are you having trouble elevating to the next level? 

The answer lies in the fundamentals.

I'm so excited to be hosting Don Hatfield again this year for a series of workshops in early August. Actual dates and specifics will be announced soon. Don will teach 3 separate 3-day workshops: portraiture, still life and figurative in costume. Cost for the 3-day sessions is a reasonable $300. with reductions for multiple workshops. Whether a beginner or a seasoned artists, you would benefit from his teachings. 

Aren't you just itching to come to Maine? August is a lovely month. Think about it. You could begin with a 3-day Hatfield energy boost and continue on to a beautiful coastline town for an extended stay and paint, armed with precious fundamentals and a new-found confidence. 

Does it get any better than that?...!

(Note: I can't get this photo adjusted to look as soft and delicate as the actual painting.)