In 2010, as a birthday gift to herself, Susan took her first art class at The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. She discovered a sense of freedom and openness, surprise and creativity while spreading and even flinging paint on large sheets of paper tacked to the wall. It was so engaging, in fact, that she returned to take classes each June for three more years, including with well-known Big Sur landscape artist, Erin Gafill, as well as U.K. artist Sharon Virtue. But it was not until she studied with Sausalito abstract artist, Nicholas Wilton, in 2014 that she began to paint at home. She continues to study with Nick, a passionate advocate of the critical concepts of values and design, texture, color and risk.
Susan has since built a second home in the artist community of Asheville, NC, where she has studied encaustics (hot wax) as well as oil and cold wax with local artists Bet Kindley, Cindy Walton and Mark Bettis. Most recently, she has studied at Western Carolina University with Montana abstract artist, Pamela Caughey. In her week-long deep dive in Pamela’s workshop with oil and cold wax painting, she further developed her favorite medium that allows the sense of depth and mystery, texture and movement that she loves to slowly and still surprisingly create.
Susan works spontaneously, letting the process of layering paint and mark-making take the painting wherever it is going. Her goal is to make dramatic, bold, passionate, textured, deeply colorful pieces that reflect majesty as well as mysteries all around us and which elicit wonderings and stories in the observer. She has recently begun to explore the mysteries of black, white and shades of grey.
In all of her work, Susan uses her love of water and a lifetime of beachcombing from Maine to Key West, Vancouver to San Diego, as well as her new Blue Ridge Mountains surroundings for inspiration. She splits her time between her business world in the Orlando area and her painting world in Asheville. However, it is in her Asheville studio where she can devote weeks at a time, uninterrupted, working her boards, panels and canvases into the creations that reflect her love of nature and fascination with both urban and rural landscape.
Always seeking to develop her talent, this year’s birthday gift to herself is an August workshop with Asheville landscape artist and teacher, David Skinner. There, she will actually “study” landscapes and paint what she feels when she sees-for the very first time-her ancestral home of Ireland. The amazing 10-year art journey continues….