Sunday, November 15, 2009
A Painter's Perspective from an 'Ancient Artist' -- Sue Smith
When I first discovered the Ancient Artist blog by Sue Smith, I felt like I had discovered a gold mine or golden mind! And then when I read her trials and discoveries while growing her art I saw very little difference between the discussions we've had here focused on fabric and her exposition about oil and watercolor art. I admit that I'm not ready to be referred to as an 'Ancient Artist,' yet I like the connection to the past that 'ancient' denotes. Ancient also sounds wise, doesn't it? And Sue is definitely wise. I could identify with much of what she had to say and by so doing felt less isolated and yes, a bit more hopeful that I still have time to find my creative gene.
Graciously, Sue Smith accepted an invitation to join us at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles and share her art and her experiences. Maybe you will discover you're an 'ancient artist,' too. -- Dawn
Facts of Life (shown here) is part of the Mesa Series is 24"h x 12"w. This bird lives in the imaginary spaces, and he, too, is imaginary - a composite of several species of bird plus a bit of whimsey. The technique is similar to that used in another piece in the Mesa Series shown below: How the Light Gets In.
How the Light Gets In is oil on panel. I use a lot of texture in the Mesa Series paintings, starting with gesso spread thickly on the panels. As the paint dries I scrape into it with sandpaper, sharp scraping knives, whatever is within reach to create more texture. Then more paint, more scraping, until I get what I'm after. These are landscapes that evolve out of my imagination - they are places that have never been explored before, wide open to your own imagination as to what you might find there. This painting is 12"h by 30"w.
I consider myself a painter.
I am fascinated with words and the meaning behind them - what does "artist" mean? What does "painter" mean - if anything other than they describe what I do and are interchangeable. I once read a statement by a successful artist who said he was an "artist" because he brought something more pure to his work than "painters" who merely slap color on to a surface - but I don't call myself a "painter" just to be contrary or because I think I just slap paint on the surface without meaning.
I call myself a "painter" because of a book that I read, called The Painter From Shanghai, by Jennifer Cody Epstein. It's the life story of the very talented Chinese Postimpressionist painter Pan Yuliang who moved to Paris and "lived at the intersection of great art and tumultuous modern history...the story of a bold and improbable woman" who suffered greatly but refused to give up on her inner knowledge that her life's purpose was to be an artist. I identify with her - will never face the difficulties she did - but her story gives me courage to struggle on and not give up.
So, in my own way, I am a painter.
I started out painting in watercolor, but soon discovered that oil fit my painting methods perfectly. There is luminosity in oil paint that visually I find compelling, plus it is forgiving and allows me to really work the paint surfaces if I need to. I love that.
I think it’s helpful to take a moment and look back to see just how far any of us has come. In this first image, I'm petrified and have boxed myself into a corner, the wall at my back. A defensive stand for sure. It was my first Art Opening in a mainstream Contemporary Art Gallery. Shelly Hall Gallery. This was 2 years ago and sadly Shelly Hall Gallery closed in 2008 due to the economic downturn.
High Desert Gallery of Central Oregon. I was too busy talking to people to worry about being nervous (I'm the one in the white jacket). As a certified, life-long introvert, I can tell you this is a major personal growth milestone – and proof that we are getting closer to our goals every day, even if we don't realize it.
Residing in Central Oregon, Sue has participated in national and regional exhibitions, solo and three-person shows, and is a juried member in Oil Painters of America, an associate member in Women Artists of the West, and a juried member in the prestigious National Association of Women Artists. Her work is in private collections across the country. Sue maintains not only her popular Ancient Artist blog, but also websites Sue Smith Fine Arts and Sue Smith.