Friday, September 24, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Last week Howard and I traveled to Chicago. As a Board Member of Oil Painters of America, he had official business. I, on the other hand, had business of the heart to attend to. Chicago is where I was born. Skokie is where I grew up. My roots go deep in that lovely land. Going to Chicago is always going home in my heart. I have family and dear friends there as well as memories, lots and lots of memories.

Vicki and Howard at the Art Institute

Chicago is a wonderful city full of culture, full of excitement and full of ART! ….. like, well, the ART INSTITUTE! Since both of my parents were artists, going to the Art Institute was a semi annual migration for my family. As a little child I regularly stared into the brush strokes of the greatest artists in the world.

Now, flash forward to last week, as my heart was getting a “filler up” of love, the anticipation of returning to the Art Institute was building once again. Saturday, my cousin Vicki, Howard and I boarded a commuter train (I love trains) and sped from Northbrook to the shores of Lake Michigan and the Art Institute. Vicki has had a membership to the Art Institute for many years, so needless to say she was eager to go again too. As a matter a fact, the paintings that we all loved, were like old friends to her. She knew right were each one was, around each corner and down each hall. What a delight.

Once we climbed the old stone stairs, the adventure began. Photography is allowed as long as the flash is turned off. Needless to say, I did take some photos that I want to share with you. I took whole paintings and parts of paintings, details that wowed me.

I photographed some amazing portraits, but right now I want to share the beauty of the hands and feet in some of these great paintings.

John Singer Sargent’s woman’s hand as she painted at the fountain…

Loose to tight, they are all wonderful.

Years ago, while studying drawing with Wynn Jones at Northern Illinois University, he was adamant that I draw the hands and feet accurately.

No matter how wonderfully I drew the figure or captured the portrait, my grade depended upon how well the hands and feet were drawn.

I thought about him and that class as I strolled the great rooms among the finest paintings in the world.

He was right, I thought. The greatest painting can be ruined with poor execution of the appendages at the ends of the legs and arms.

What a gift he gave me, the discipline to carefully study hands and feet.

By the way, because he told us that he would be grading us on the hands and feet, I made my room mates pose for me constantly.

Whenever we were sitting around in the evenings, I was drawing…. Fingers and toes, ankles and wrists, hands and feet… I made an A in Mr. Jones's drawing class, thanks to my hands and feet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Awed by Encouragement

I started selling my paintings when I was 19 years old at the local art fair in Skokie, Illinois. Showing my heart felt work to the public was difficult. I felt exposed. “What if they didn’t like my work,” I thought. “Does that mean that they don’t like me?” That tells you how much of the artist pours into the painting. We are one with our work. If you like my work, you are liking the inner emotions of me…. At least that is what we artists feel.

Flash forward 40+ years. We have Facebook and Blogs, newsletters and Twitters. The whole world is now one huge network of artists cheering each other on. Now our paintings can be seen in every country in the world in a matter of minutes. News flashes around the world and so do the comments of support and encouragement.

I had that experience again tonight.

“So, What’ll You Have?” 22.5 x 30 oil

About 3 pm this afternoon. I found out that my oil painting, “So, What’ll You Have” had been juried into the American Women Artists National Show. There were 1547 entries and only 68 were accepted. I was (and still am) thrilled. So, I posted it on Facebook. That was 10 hours ago and the comments have been pouring in from all over the world. Artists and patrons, friends and strangers have been looking and letting me know how my painting affects them. So…. Exposed…..yes, we are as artists, but never before in the history of the world have artists been able to cheer each other on like this. I am awed. Yes, we can see this every day and every hour on Facebook. People thrilled and talking about it, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

Thank you all for those wonderful comments.

They went straight to my heart and will stay there!

The Old World at Home

First, I have had several people asking about my last blog and how long my retrospective show is up. It will be up until October 2. And after that…my work is always showing at the Master’s Fine Art of Loveland, Colorado.

Now onto today’s thoughts:

Okay, I have decided to have some fun and you guessed it… involving art and friends. Some of you may know that I have spent my life traveling the world. In 1994 (after breaking my big toe –ouch) I got the brilliant idea to bring artists to wonderful places in Europe to paint with me. I would teach, we all would paint and tour! So I did. And we did! Oh the beautiful places we saw, photographed and painted! We went to England, France and Italy. Then, in 1998, I realized that the trips would be easier on me if I worked with a director, Sunny Reeves Livesay. We started working together on French trips. She designs them, plans and handles all the technical and I teach. What a team we are together! My husband Howard Friedland often teaches on these trips too!

So, when my dear friend, Sunny, said that she coming to Bozeman for a visit in October, I decided to have some fun while she is here. I have designed a workshop for all those artists that have been to Europe with us or have traveled alone or with anyone else….and for those artists that have always wanted to go to Europe, too. We will draw and paint and eat and laugh our way through old and new memories, creating paintings and reflecting the romance of the “Old World”.

Join us! Here are the specifics:

3 Day Painting Workshop taught by Susan Blackwood

October 15, 16 and 17, 2010

Bozeman, MT

Get out those photos of France and let's do some serious drawing and painting.

Three days of good instruction on composing paintings, handling the paint and creating an emotion in your cityscapes.
 All levels are welcome….(For those of you that have gone on a French Trip with me, this will be a reunion with Sunny (Reeves) Livesay as well. )

Come spend three days emerged in memories and create some great new ones with us “on paper” and/or “canvas”. 
If you have never been to Europe but have always wanted to go, come and dive into the world of romantic old buildings.

We will pretend we are really there.... We'll "eat, drink" and paint the Old World!

Cost: $350

To register for this class, or If you have any questions

Call me at 406-586-4484 or 406-570-0528

or e-mail me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

"passages" as an artist

Just like little children, artist’s skills, styles and tastes grow and change through the years. As we find out more and more about the art world, we typically explore the many possibilities. And I really did! I tried everything from macramé to jewelry and pottery, pen and ink to enameling, drawing and painting and bronze sculpture.

Then in 1972, a wise and dear friend commented, “Susan, you are good at all of these things, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you became an expert in one medium.” At first, I was shocked!

“No!” I said! “I love then all!” However the more I thought about it, the more it made sense… So, I picked the one medium that could hold my interest and challenge me for many years... I became a professional watercolor artist, exhibiting in shows and galleries. At first I was painting animals and Native Americans. Little by little my subject matter expanded, so did my style. But I stayed with watercolors for 32 years, after all, watercolors was one medium that was darn hard to conquer. In 2003, I took up the challenge and inspiration of Oil painting.

My career, style and mediums sure have changed over the years.

If any of you are in the Loveland, Colorado area, be sure to stop in and see my one woman show at:

The Master’s Fine Art Gallery of Loveland at 343 East Seventh Street.

The gallery is open Wednesday, September 8th through Saturday, September 11th

10:00am – 5:00pm

(or by special appointment.)

Me with Linda King, wonderful owner of The Master’s Fine Art of Loveland.
Behind us on the left is a watercolor on the right is an oil.

This special show is a retrospective (from 1979 to 2010) of my life as a painter for the past 30+ years. Thirty paintings, several bronze sculptures and over 40 reproductions, create a little peek of my “passages” as an artist during those years. You will see my medium start out as watercolors then morph into oils. You will also see my style go from tight realism, to loose impressionism and even a huge abstract in watercolors. My subject matter, as you can guess, covers everything from animals, children, cowboys, still life, landscapes to European scenes, and more. There are also my limited edition prints of my watercolors from the 70’s and 80’s and my new 2010 giclees of my oils printed by Somerset Fine Art. Here are a few photos from the event.

My watercolors and oils

Hope you get to stop by and see it! The gallery is always gorgeous! A big hearty thank you to all those that stopped by for the opening reception. It was wonderful to see you all! Many of our friendships span all those years and more. All of you, after all, have influenced and continue to influence my life and my work and I thank you!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

time-lapse with Odie

Last video for now. This time it is about a little King Charles Spaniel named Odie, what a cutie.

Odie 8 x 6 oil

After painting a series of little cats, it was fun to do a critter with long floppy ears and a big nose. Black is sometimes hard for painters to capture form. I just keep reminding myself that black is really made up of many colors. So go ahead and use some bluish black, redish black and even greenish black. It is all there in black. When painting fur, I try to keep in mind the softness of the fun and paint it that way. But most of all, I try to capture the personality.

Click here to see the painting process for Odie