Values and Design, Dramatic Color and Texture To Stir The Heart and Stir Up Stories
Artist's Statement: Susan S. Spraker
Susan Spraker Fine Art
I began painting in the mountains along the Pacific in Big Sur, CA. Dense fog wafting down from the hills to the sea, blazing sunsets over the ocean, ferocious waves crashing across boulders strewn below the Esalen Institute campus, all were part of my artistic awakening during four summers from 2005 through 2010. The awesome convergence in that place of rolling seas and rugged mountains brought together all my many years of beach walking and mountain gazing. That love and respect for nature are reflected in many of my paintings. From Mission Beach to Myrtle Beach, Cape Cod to
Capitola, Daytona to Del Mar, Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park to Positano, from Flaggy Shore on Galway Bay to Bar Harbor and Barcelona, sea, sky, stone, fields and flowers have captured my heart. The feelings of freedom and wonder of it all is what pours onto my canvases and panels. Painting is my “flight to freedom.” It’s my loss of control. My delight is in others’ eyes opening, seeing anew, their faces smiling or even clouding over, as they are transported to an emotional place or dramatic memory of their own.
There are other influences that show up in my paintings: growing up on the edge of woods and farmland in the Deep South, fishing with my father on the Santee Cooper River and in the swampy lake back in the woods behind our house; living and traveling across the Midwest and Florida, and now, in the Blue Ridge mountains.
My painting process is the opposite of the work I did most of my life. It is loose, carefree, random in the rewarding ways. When I first lift the brush or the palette knife, I have no vision in mind. I don’t paint from photos or other paintings. In a way, I’m in the dark, and paint my way out into light at my own pace. I begin by preparing 2-3 boards and/or canvases at a time with a base coat of paint, then move from one to another, layering the pigmented oils as a color calls to me. When I work on board or panel, I add cold wax medium to the paint to give texture so later, I can scratch and pull back to prior layers to add mystery and complexity to the design. Unlike the over 35 years as a Financial Advisor, I am not guided by rules or a plan. In this chapter of my life, I let my fancy guide me. The unfolding intrigue of texture, alternating values & a slowly developing design is what always brings me back to the easel. Weeks, months…maybe more than a year later, the paintings are completed, one at a time. I know when each is finished. I really like the piece. It speaks to me. It takes me somewhere. I’ve learned not to force the process, to have patience to develop its design, its energy. It’s always exciting because it’s always a mystery unfolding…just like the energy of the ocean, the mountains, and the sky!
I have been accepted in multiple art festivals in Central Florida and the Asheville area. My art is currently on exhibit at Artisans on Main in Weaverville, N.C.