Studio visit with Suzanne
While I know I promised the evolution of a painting in my last email, I had a fantastic studio visit the other day with two of our Advisory Board members, Kathryn Williams and Julie Hegeler, and I am really eager to share it with you. We not only had an enlivened discussion about the paintings, but they also documented the day with some great photos of my studio. In discussing my work, which is in various stages of completion, I was better able to envision what is forming for the show - and I’m very excited!
I also had a conversation with Eileen Flannigan, another Board member, who was curious about why I do studio visits and in particular, what I got out of this one. She did a little interview with me (see below) and I thought it might be something you would be interested in reading as well, particularly the part about what I want the supporters of this project to know.
Thanks again for staying on this journey with us and taking the opportunity to do a virtual studio visit with me. I would love to hear any comments/questions/thoughts you might have!
Have a wonderful week!
Interview with Suzanne:
EF: In general, why do you do studio visits?
SU: I like studio visits because they give me a different perspective on my work. Not only will the visitor focus on areas I’ve overlooked, but I also gain new insights into the process by verbalizing them for someone else.
EF: In this specific studio visit, what was the direction of conversation about your work that you found interesting?
SU: I’m always surprised by the psychological story that is going on for visitors since I spend so much time consumed by the technical aspects of the painting. How one painting can evoke a variety of different stories depending on who the viewer is and what they bring to the table. With this studio visit, Kathryn and Julie were both struck by the mood of the painting of Kevin & Thor, although they both had very different ideas of what they were seeing. Kathryn thought it was possible that something bad had just happened or was going to happen between them or to them. She felt the tension lay in the teal blue space between them and that this had a profound weight for her. Julie, on the other hand, felt it was more uplifting. The teal blue and lighter colors seemed less despairing than the original colors I used for the oil on paper studies, and therefore it came across more positive to her. With the painting of Kevin and the hyenas, Kathryn felt it to be rather sinister. The watercolor pink background reminded her of blood and the Kevin in that painting reminded her of a very tough 1950’s mechanic surrounded by vicious-looking hyenas. She was unsettled by the nothingness of the background and the surprising color choices brought her into an unknown world. I think my paintings work best when the situation isn’t spelled out for the viewer, so this sort of conversation felt extremely stimulating.
EF: What exactly was the feedback and how was it in alignment with your vision?
SU: They were excited about the bold freshness of the work and its scale. How by not depicting Kevin and the animals in their natural environment added weight to their relationship and brought the subject matter into more universal themes of man and nature and relationships and story rather than simply an illustration of Kevin and the lions and hyenas. To me this is successful because being on the reserve with Kevin and the animals, WAS more to me about the universal relationship of man and nature, not just what I was witnessing between this man and these animals. While Kevin’s relationship with the lions and hyenas is absolutely extraordinary and mesmerizing, for me it also conjures up everything from mythological stories of the Garden of Eden and Daniel in the Lion’s Den, to childhood dreams of fairy tales and paradises lost.
EF: Is there anything specifically about your work or your process that you want to share with your supporters?
SU: I start out with oil on paper studies so I am able to work out a great deal of the details of composition, movement of brushstrokes and color combinations ahead of time. This allows the painting on canvas to be fresher, bolder, to have a presence to it that matches the subject. This is one of the things that drew me into wanting to paint Kevin and the animals - because I saw an immediacy in his experience that felt parallel to the immediacy in my paintings.