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About Susan

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WHO I AM – Female, middle aged, left handed.

WHAT I WEAR – The jersey of a thousand darns, my waistcoat, coat and scarf, the overall (belonged to my mother who was also an artist), hat and handkerchief.

WHAT I TAKE – The chair (an ancient stuffed nursing chair with a low, soft seat), sketchbooks, paint, brushes, pastels and ink.

I trained at St. Martin’s School of Art and Leeds Polytechnic and gained a degree in Graphic Design.

After I was married I worked as a freelance graphic designer taking on many different commissions from twenty foot signs to three inch book plates. A chance invitation to paint a lonely lodge in Scotland resulted in a series of house commissions which in turn kindled a love of painting flowers, firstly in watercolour and later in oil.

My whole approach changed after working with Robin Child, an inspirational lecturer on 20th and 21st century art who supplements his lectures with investigative research and practical painting in his studio.

Using landscape, still life and the figure as a starting point, I work through drawing and tone to more abstract images using oil, acrylic and collage. By experimenting in different mediums I try to keep my work lively and fresh.

Sketch books are my starting point. They are full of drawings and watercolour sketches from places I visit and things that excite me. This takes me all over the countryside, but in 2013 I was fortunate enough to spend 5 weeks in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. I rode across the Andes on wonderful sure footed ponies, and although it rained a great deal, the slow pace of progress, (we walked, slid and clambered up and down precipitous Inca trails,) meant I had time to observe. I was so amazed by the fresh, clear colours that my head now seems full of different and unexpected combinations and I look at familiar scenes with a heightened sense of colour.

Since then I have travelled in Myanmar for three weeks and this year, I have lately returned from New Zealand and Japan.  During each journey I fill sketchbooks, and my head is teeming with new ideas, sights, colours and images.  Interestingly, this enhances my interest in my local surroundings. I live within easy reach of the North East coast and have always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of extreme beauty and grittiness.  This gives it a special allure for me, and I have spent many hours drawing there when the tragic closure of the steelworks at Redcar were unfolding.

I have always had a love affair with the Bass Rock and since my children grew up I have had the time to paint it in many of its guises whilst on family holidays.

I walk every day in the Leven valley in North Yorkshire. The willow sallows at Crathorne are one of the places on the river that make me gasp. They are in an ancient ox bow lake, and every 3 or 4 years they are pollarded. The re-growth gives them an extraordinary vibrant colour. You can’t see them growing but you can feel the energy. I spend time drawing and painting there at all hours of the day.

As a musician practices scales, I regularly do life drawing. I aim to record the movement and pose in an expressive way.

I paint what gives me a buzz and try and transfer that sense of excitement to my paintings.

Exhibitions:
Malcolm Innes, Walton Street, London – 1988, 1992
Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk – 2004, 2012
The Great Northern Art Show – 2005
Art for Youth North – 2010, 2011, 2014
Pissarro, Chiswick – 2005 and 2007
Bianco Nero Gallery, Stokesley, North Yorkshire – 2009, 2013
Gallery 54, Shepherds Market, London W1 – 2014

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