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...