Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cathedral of Bones

Cathedral of Bones, acrylic on linen, 18 x 24 inches, $2,000 xxxxxxxxxxx

I'M IN MY STUDIO painting a skeleton, drinking coffee out of a bone china coffee cup and thinking about bones. And, yes, bone china is actually made from bones. This moderately creepy bit of knowledge, my recently finished painting, Cathedral of Bones, and the fact that Halloween is imminent, have combined to inspire me to share some thoughts on bones. I became familiar with them at an early age because my father was an orthopedic surgeon or, in the vernacular, an old sawbones. 

Make no bones about it, our skeletons have done a lot for us.  I greatly admire them and do not understand how they got such a bad name. In addition to their more prosaic raisons d' etre of supporting our bodies, allowing us to walk upright and protecting our brains (in my case, moderately successfully), they are a striking engineering achievement and incredibly beautiful to observe.

My first skeleton was the one that hung from the ceiling in my father’s office. At first I thought it spooky. But I soon befriended it and danced with those merry, dangling bones in our private, ether-scented ballroom to the rhythmic clickety-clack of Dad’s secretary’s typewriter.

There was also a human skull on the desk with whom I had many in depth conversations about, well, bones, as well as other important matters crucial to a four year old, such as what happened to its teeth and what it's like to be dead. In an effort to cheer Skully up, I used to dress it with my mother's jewelry. Perhaps this was the precursor to Damien Hurst's diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God.


My next encounter with bones occurred some years later when I tore some tendons in my neck and shoulders. Upon entering the radiologist's office after my x-rays had been taken, I noticed that hundreds of other x-rays were hanging on the walls–sort of like portraits. Until then, I had thought that skeletons were generic and would look pretty much alike. However, I was startled to see that my x-ray looked exactly like me. I could pick "me" out instantaneously. As I stared at the dark, empty facial sockets in that roentgengram, my eyes itched to be cradled in them. Those bones claimed me. The skull, clavicle, sternum and all 24 ribs, some sort of grim ersatz chorus, sang to me: "Yes, we are thee! And this is what you’ll be!"

For a while, I took solace in the knowledge that my bones will be around for a long time after the rest of me goes organic and returns to the earth. I imagine what that will be like in Cathedral of Bones. But the cathedral will not last forever. When I pass on, I will not have to say goodbye to my bones right away. They are so strong that, depending on soil conditions, it may take hundreds of years before they disintegrate and my remains become one with the universe. But when they do, it's...

Bone voyage!

PS  I hope this blog didn't chill you to the bone, I meant it to be humerus (pun intended)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Kernel Panic

Kernal Panic, digital painting

You'll never guess where I am!   It's colorful, wild, hot and artsy (in a Brice Marden meandering-line sort of way.) I'm here because of a  frightening computer malfunction.

While writing love letters on my computer,  suddenly big, black. scary, primal letters appeared on my screen. I usually take all things technical in my stride; I ignore them. However, this time I couldn't because the primitive type plastered itself slowly but steadily down my computer screen like some evil Barton Fink-esque kind of wallpaper, as if might consume me.  Its slow progression gave me, an alarmist in good standing, time to think and I came to a dismal conclusion. 

 It was the end of the world and it was either  God himself, Putin (sore about an illustration I did of him), or one of Trump's 400-pound hackers, sitting on a bed hacking away.  Whoever it was, he was communicating a primitive and cryptic message on my computer screen.  I believed, the expanding unrecognizable print marching down my screen might be an ancient  Biblical  tongue, the  Russian language, or hacking. Suddenly, at the top of the screen, a header appeared in English. Though blurred and written in a basic and  unfamiliar hand, it finally came into focus. It read, "KERNEL PANIC."  That's when my computer froze. Everything stopped  but those two words which kept multiplying and spreading down the screen–an ersatz army attacking.


I didn't know exactly what the words meant, but they struck me as serious.  I called for my live-in techie, but he apparently had slipped out to buy a new pocket protector for his pens. In his absence I did what any red blooded artist facing annihilation by computer would do: I grabbed my paints and sketchbook, cracked open the computer, crawled in and started painting the wiggly anarchy I witnessed inside.

Moving along the innermost primordial slime of colored wires and other exotic, twirling electrical arthropods, I painted my way to the bottom of the problem. It was just as the print on my computer screen warned:  KERNEL PANIC!  Sure enough, there in the depths, all aglow, frightened to death, and tied up with the many different colored wires was Kernel, and, yes, he was panicking. He looked like an ear of corn, but for the fact that he was screaming.  His  contorted face could have given the screamer in Edvard Munch's
painting a run for the money.

I told Kernel he could stop panicking  because the doctor  (my techie), would arrive any minute. While I was trying to cheer up Kernel, techie returned and called down a life saving prescription.

"to avoid crashing or hang issues, make sure you're exiting Scratch Live before disconnecting or turning off your Rane Scratch Live USB hardware interface (SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4, TTM 57SL and Sixty-Eight). Call me in the morning."

Kernel was paralyzed with terror, so I did the "Rane Scratch" thing for him. Much to my surprise, Kernel calmed down almost immediately.  The scream melted off his face, the mysterious  writing disappeared  from the screen  and the Kernel started doing his job again–whatever that might be.

I waved goodbye to Kernel, climbed gingerly out of the computer's entrails trying to  avoid any residual "hang issues" (they don't sound so good). I admonished my techie that he should never leave the premises again and resumed writing my love letters. 

Sent one to Kernel too, just to keep him in good spirits.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Guild - 5 Forty Five, Ft. Lauderdale

IN ADDITION TO THE MAKING OF ART, one of the best things about being an artist is the artist's reception at exhibits.  That's where I get to meet all sorts of wonderful art lovers and talk about my paintings and art in general with them. 

Susan and George Curri at Botanically Correct

Above is a photo from my solo show, Botanically Correct at The Guild 5 Forty Five, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  That's George Curi, my self-declared number one fan and collector. Behind us is my painting, Wings, the poster child for Botanically Correct. 

 I love the amber glow of this shot from the house lights and the confusing proliferation of hands surrounding us. The hand on my shoulder looks as if Wings is emerging from the canvas to give us a giant hug, but it is actually George's hand. The hand between George and me looks like it's George's but it is Wings' painted hand. The fingers on George's shoulder look like Wings' fingers tapping George on the shoulder,  but they are mine. And  then there's Wings' hand to the right of George which looks real enough to pinch him.

And so it goes, just as I have always thought, art and life being interchangeable!

George emailed me the day after he first viewed my work:

" I loved your use of color.  It was so bright.  I felt so cheerful in your gallery.   Especially, in contrast to the darker pieces featured in the adjacent galleries. You really are a true inspiration.  A very rare, but wonderful quality to possess."

Thank you, George!

A better look at the botanically correct Wings, The Man Under My Bed and Loose Ends. They are   currently being exhibited at the Good News Cafe, Woodbury, CT and can be purchased there through October 3.

Wings, acrylic on linen, 36 x 30" $3,500

The Man Under my Bed, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24," $4,000

Loose Ends, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24," $3,500

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Man Under My Bed

The Man Under my Bed, acrylic on linen, 30 x 24 inchesXXXXXXXXXXX

MOST GOOD PAINTERS strive to create work that causes them and their viewers to experience a strong rush of emotion. Painting one of my childhood fears worked as such a catharsis for me.

As a child, I had a downright frightening imagination. The subject of the painting above, The Man Under My Bed, in fact lived (I believed at the time) under my bed. Despite all the pretty pink bedding and lacy pillows on the top of my bed, there was a threatening, dark, evil abyss beneath.  My own childhood yin and yang.

I firmly believed that if I were to get into my bed the normal way, i.e. walking up to it and climbing in, The Man underneath would reach out, grab me by my ankle and pull me under. I knew that if he caught me, I would have to live out the rest of my life under my bed with a monster
in that cramped, dark, coffin-shaped space.

Fortunately, I devised a way to insulate myself from that horrible fate.  It involved some acrobatics.  Much to my mother's amazement, every night I would stand a yard away from my bed and take a flying leap onto the bed to stay out of The Man's reach. I exited the bed in the same way, standing on the edge of the bed and jumping in one giant three-foot long leap over the danger zone.

When I started this painting, I didn't realize I was painting my old under-bed nemesis until I completed his face and he started smirking out at me from the painting. I had thwarted his kidnapping approach, so now he was trying to get me under the bed with what passed for him as come hither looks, wine from his brain and flowers. If I had started out painting a non-specific mythical half-man/half-beast with ram's horns, I ended up painting The Man Under my Bed.

Now that I am an adult (chronologically at least), I realize that The Man Under My Bed doesn't really exist– or at least he doesn't live under my bed. To the great relief of my husband, I can now enter and exit my bed by walking up to it and climbing under the covers. After painting the above, though, I am now concerned that The Man has simply relocated himself. I therefore exercise extreme caution when I walk past my flower beds.

Ever seen a gardener do flying leaps to enter and leave her garden?


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Sneaker Graveyard

Dr. Mac, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches

SWIMMING UP FROM SEVEN FATHOMS UNDER Candleberry Lake* at a speed so fast he would leave Michael Phelps far behind and probably get the bends, a young diver, trembling with excitement, breaks the surface and sputters to his mates, "Hey, there must have been a sneaker factory here at one time; I found hundreds of sneakers in one spot." When I hear him say that, I breathe a sigh of relief. No one knows the truth–the real truth. The diver's assumption is plausible, but it is wrong.

It is plausible because Candleberry Lake was not always a body of water. It used to be farmland at the base of Candleberry Mountain. In 1926 Connecticut Light and Power Co., in order to create hydroelectric power from the Histrionic River, dammed the river, flooding the surrounding farmland. In doing this, the utility created the extremely deep, 18-mile long Candleberry Lake. Local legend has it that if you dive down to the bottom of the lake you will find old roads and farm houses with families preserved as they were at the time the land was flooded. Some say there are entire preserved families sitting at the dinner table with their food-laden forks poised halfway up to their mouths. Other unfortunates still sit in their easy chairs knitting. This is why our young diver thought he had found (and indeed might have found, had there been one located in the vicinity in 1926) a sneaker factory.

But that is not the case. No, there never was a sneaker factory there. What the diver found is much more sinister. It is the sneaker graveyard. I might add that this final resting place for sneakers was not there when the land was flooded. I am one of an elite group of five people in the entire world who know how that sneaker graveyard came to be. And only three of this select circle are alive today. I feel I must share what I know of the events leading to the creation of the sneaker graveyard before this knowledge is lost forever. Therefore, I have decided to reveal what I have been concealing for so many years right here on this blog. Depingo's readers deserve to know.

Although I cannot reveal his name, I can tell you that some years ago a good doctor and his family lived on the lake. He was a surgeon, scholar and gentlemen, loved by all who knew him. He worked hard in New York City healing patients 11 months out of every year. He saved many lives and made many patients whole again. But when he was on vacation for the month of August... well, that is a different story.

The good doctor, escaping civilization, would drive up to his manse on Candleberry in full doctor drag, including an F. Tripler suit, cashmere socks, pinstriped shirt punctuated with gold cufflinks and a Countess Mara tie, and highly polished Bass Weejuns. Upon arrival, though, he would divest himself of this costume with haste, as if wearing it were the final human indignity. He shed it faster than a snake sheds its skin. However, while snakes shed in order to grow and advance their form, the good doctor would shed his last remnants of domestication in order to return to a wild state. Upon doing so, he immediately became feral.

This formerly manicured doctor quickly donned his summer wardrobe, which he had designed and manufactured himself. It consisted of three items: cut-off, shredded khakis (not much better than a loin cloth really); a rope which he tied around his waist, belt-style, to hold up the cut-off khakis; and a pair of tennis shoes. He wore these items for the entire month while he toiled at landscaping, building stone walls, making furniture and various other projects. He also swam, ate and slept in these three items for all of August. (OK, some nights he took the sneakers off for sleeping,)

Quite frankly, the doctor's wife was beside herself. She didn't know what to do with her severely devolved husband. She knew, though, that she wouldn't allow his shorts to go into the wash with the rest of the family's clothing. This did not present a problem for the good doctor. The one time he felt his garment needed washing, this brilliant inventor of surgical implements and procedures designed an operation for cleaning shorts. He tied one end of his rope/belt to his khakis and the other end to the stone dock and let Candleberry do the work. The lake swirled them around in its waters and its whitecaps beat them up against the stone dock. When the doctor felt they were clean (which was not very long), he put them on wet. The morning sun dried them in conformity with his body and at least they were somewhat cleaner. They didn't look so great, but he didn't care.

One of the neighbors was a kindly grandmother from an extended Italian family that summered on the peninsula. She had a hammertoe that bothered her and asked the world-famous trauma doctor if he would take a look at it. He needed an office, so he set two canvas-covered folding chairs on the dock, washed his hands in the lake and examined her while dressed in his summer outfit. It was comical to see patient and doctor sitting on the dock, she with her hammertoed foot resting in his lap on top of the torn shorts. She didn't seem to mind; in fact she seemed very grateful. When she asked how much she owed for the visit. the doctor replied, "Do you make clams casino?" She did indeed; in fact the dish was her specialty. The following day she delivered a tray of homemade clams casino, hot from her oven, for the doctor's lunch. Good thing, for by this time, his wife had decreed that he was not to come to lunch without a shirt on. Because a shirt was not part of his summer wardrobe, he enjoyed his clams casino while sitting on his favorite tree stump, accompanied by Peter, and Taffy, his cocker spaniels.

Word spread throughout the Italian summer community and he saw many more patients on the dock. He never had to don a shirt because he had a steady stream of clams casino, lasagna and pasta fagioli coming in daily.

There came a day when the doctor's daughter, who was coming of age, requested that her father put on proper clothes (perhaps at least a shirt) to meet her date when he came to pick her up. The doctor said, "I'm not putting on clothes– just tell him I'm the handyman." She was quite concerned about this antisocial turn her father had taken. She hoped his behavior was within normal limits for vacationing surgeons. Maybe this is how surgeons relaxed ... or was it? Maybe ... it was something else ... something far worse! Then, on their last night at Candleberry before the family returned to New York for school and work, she followed him and saw what he was doing. She actually witnessed it with her own eyes!

Before the ceremony started, her father sat quietly on a willow twig bench he had made himself and stared across the lake. Then, he slowly rose and moved toward the end of the dock. Was he carrying something in his arms? No ... it couldn't be. Yes! She could see them clearly now, for unsuspecting that he was being watched, he had moved into the moonlight. There were two of them and they were both badly decayed. You could almost discern the souls separating from them. The odor was unbearable even in the fresh, pine-scented night air. With a hint of hesitation and what looked like regret, the doctor raised both hands high over his head and heaved his decomposing, moonlit burdens to their watery doom. They sunk promptly because he had filled their orifices with rocks and bound them with their own laces. Then he waved goodbye, went up the stone steps to the house, took a long, hot shower and carefully laid out his full doctor's drag for the next morning's ride back to New York. Through careful observation, I learned that he repeated this morbid ceremony annually.

In retrospect, I believe that the doctor actually was very fond of them. After all, they were his sneakers.

*About Candleberry Lake, Candleberry Mountain and the Histrionic River: I changed their names so as not to get my father ... er ... um ... that is, the unnamed doctor, into any trouble.PS. I wonder if anybody has discovered the cigarette "factory" adjacent to the sneaker graveyard yet?

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Letter to my Canvas

Golden Lady, acrylic on linen, 60 x 36 inches


I am work,
you are art.
Together we are work of art.
An implement used in your bidding
with no brain, no train of thought,
voraciously I suck in colors all day long
and stuff myself
with starry shapes from the night
hoarding them to spew forth
like detritus out of flu's belly
when creativity beckons.

As you glut yourself
with my sensual shapes and color,
I watch them seep into your empty whiteness
until you are saturated– with me! You laugh
as you are tickled by my brushes,
sable soft hair massagiing
my spirit into you nebulous soul.
I love and hate you, vacuous sponge
screaming for my red––my blood!
Selfless hands continue love's labor
giving you eveything you want
to the detriment of all else.
We need each other more than ever now,
urgently our transaction is consummated and
We are one: work of art.

But then you leave me,
Just like all the others before you,
proud and independent
sychophants gawking.
You alone are work of art
And I am nothing without you.

I could join the others
but colors and shapes collide
inside my throbbing head
in their eagerness to be born.
I must help them,
let them out.
I am work.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches, 
MY GARDEN PARTY paintings are being very well received up and down the East Coast this summer. Well, why not? Who doesn’t like a party? After Garden Party’s debut at the Westfield Broward Gallery in Plantation, FL, Madame Garden Party was invited to be in the 75th Regional Exhibition at the Arnot Museum (NY) for the entire summer. She’s still there; Alice's Aura was exhibited at the Treat Gallery, NYC.

On July 20th,
 another painting from the series will be shown for two months at Manhattan Arts International Gallery as part of The Healing Power of Art exhibition. Thanks to Renee Phillips, the gallery director, for my Award of Excellence. Castle in the Sky, shown above, is one of the three paintings I entered into this juried show

I started painting Garden Party as just that: an outdoor party on a blanket on top of the earth’s soil where the guests' concerns did not extend beyond getting the last deviled egg, keeping dirt off the devil’s food cake and their clothing, and holding the local wildlife at bay. However as the series progressed, it became apparent to me that the work was so much more. Castle in the Sky depicts an evolved world where total harmony exists between humanity and nature. In fact, the two worlds have melted into one. Stylistically, society and its products (the girl, the castle and the chair) and the environment (the birds, sky, beach and water) have merged into one natural, utopian democracy. In this alternative airborne world, you can view the earth as we know it in snippets on the right side of the canvas. It’s between the girl’s torso and elbow and to the right of her thigh.

In all the Garden Party paintings, while technically painting a picnic, conceptually I found that I was exploring societal and environmental concerns by combining fantasy and reality. I used microscopic details to provide playful suggestions of a better, healthier world. This beautiful symbiosis is my "castle in the sky." Unlike the usual connotations that phrase carries, I believe it is perfectly achievable if we listen when the earth speaks to us.

I am not the first artist to dream of a Castle in the Sky. The master Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki designed his own floating world in an anime also entitled Castle in the Sky. Miyazaki said that he does not want to push any message on moviegoers; he just wants them to be happy after seeing his movies. I feel the same about my viewers. Still, I need to conclude this newsletter with a quote from the master:

"The earth speaks to all of us, and if we listen, we can understand."


You can view and purchase my work on my website

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Tingling Elbows

Susan and Alice's Aura at NSU Art Museum of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME  I exhibited my work in a museum. I was invited by NSU Art Museum of Ft. Lauderdale's director  Bonnie Clearwater,. She loved and chose Alice's Aura  even though her assistant had selected another painting for the show. Ms. Clearwater labeled me a cross between Frida Kahlo and Alice Neel. At the time of my exhibit, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were showing in the museum's main gallery. You know, your elbows tingle when you are rubbing them with the masters. I hope some of that greatness wore off on me! You can buy my work or prints of it here - It's still cheaper than Kalho's or Neal's, at least until I get a few more museum exhibits under my belt.

Here's a better look at Alice's Aura . She was recently shown in the Treat Gallery, NYC.

Alice's Aura, acrylic on linen, 40 x 30 inches

Monday, June 20, 2016

Madame Garden Party

Cropped Image of Madame Garden Party, acrylic on linen, 50 x 40 inches
Click to see entire image

MADAME is a party girl. Her full name is Madame Garden Party. Let’s face it. She gets around. She has been in two gallery exhibitions and one museum exhibit already and she only came into existence last year. She’s probably one of the most popular paintings I have ever made.

I am not sure what makes one painting more successful than another.  I do know, though, that at my last exhibit Madame stole the show. Gallerygoers told me that they could not take their gazes off her, that she drew them in with her one exposed eye.

Despite her name, she can’t even attend Garden Party, my solo exhibit opening on April 14 at the Gallery at Westfield Broward in Plantation, FL, with the other paintings in that group. We had to pick her up early from this month's Out of Thin Air exhibit at The Guild 5 Forty Five  in Fort Lauderdale because she needs to get to the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, NY,  where she will be part of the 75th Regional Juried Art Exhibition. That exhibit will run from April 15 through August 13.

I try to give all my paintings an equal share of my skill set which consists of both traditional technical skills and my own non-traditional personal vision, which lets me see and paint things in my own idiosyncratic manner.
However, only one will be basking in the limelight at the Arnot Museum for the next four  months,

Apparently, Madame got what she needed to be the star !

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Origins of Language

On Taunton Pond, acrylic on linen, 18 by 24 inches

TOMADDOW I will know the word for water
is not and never was g'ning-g'ning.
That's just a song the pipes sing.

But I like the spoonerism U Nork.
I don't really want to say New York

When I'm angry at mom who dozed
I will not tell her I am closed–closed
because I wanted cake for heaven's sake.
The word for cake's menum.
It's really not so dumb–the word menum.
The superlative's menumeneeeee
saved for chocolate and coined by me.

Tomaddow I'll not mark time by sleeps.
Instead, I'll count with days and weeks
In fact, I shall not even say tomaddow

Dear, dear, dear, dear, dear
I have no idea–it is simply so unclear
why I would want to talk so drear

Monday, June 13, 2016


Foxglove was painted in my Manhattan studio which is surrounded by concrete, steel and glass high rise buildings on three sides.  Since my studio is on the first floor, I have a small garden on the fourth side  (somehow the builders missed that little piece) I nurture the garden, commune with nature and study it there while dreaming of a better place. When I bought a lakeside, wooded home in Connecticut, I named it Foxglove.

 Foxglove  depicts humans and animals coexisting in a natural utopian democracy. The animals function as symbols and provide subtle clues and playful suggestions about the  meaning of my work. Viewers have a  glimpse into a more perfect, peaceful  world––a world in which they are can find beauty in places where they never before thought to look.

You can find more paintings of my imagined world on my website. If you see one that you love, you can  purchase it by  contacting  me on my About page. Please have a look -

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Lovebirds, the Owl and the Alligator

Lovebirds, watercolor on paper, 8 x 11 inches
ONCE THERE WAS a handsome but not so smart young lovebird named Igno. He was content in his life, because he loved Oriole, a fluffy, colorful french songbird who sang sweetly to him every day. She loved him, too. He carried her with him everywhere in a gilded Hermes cage. Upon viewing these two lovebirds, the creatures of Foxglove would ask, " Igno, can't Oriole fly?" "Yes," Igno would reply, "she can, but thank God she doesn't have to." All laughed merrily. Oriole really didn't mind the cage because she was cagey and liked to be with Igno. "It's Hermes for chirp's sake!" she chirped.
Igno's and Oriole's best friend in all of Foxglove was a wise old owl. He accompanied them everywhere. The three of them were very happy. Sadly, one day the wise old owl sauteed his last mouse, hooted his last hoot, fell ill, and died. Igno and Oriole did everything they could to save him, but, alas, they could not. It was time for the wise old owl to cross peacefully over to the Other Side. He did so with grace and dignity, imparting wisdom upon them as he took his leave. "Never admire an alligator's teeth in the sun," he told them.

Alligator,  watercolor on paper 8 x 11 inches

Igno and Oriole were contemplating the loss of their beloved Owl down by the lake one sunny afternoon when an alligator swam right up to them. Paradise lost. The alligator said, her pendulous pink tongue darting in and out between glittering white teeth, "Igno (and, of course, Oriole), my name is Minious and Owl and I were soulmates. I loved him so much, I never even tried to eat him. I won't try to eat you either because you loved Owl. That makes us soulmates." Igno, admiring the alligator's teeth, became blinded by the glare of the sun off of them, lost sight of Oriole and agreed enthusiastically. He was so addled by the glare, he thought that was just what he needed–a sharp-toothed predator to fill the void created by the demise of his beloved friend Owl. The alligator further confused Igno by keeping her smile fixed at a 45 degree angle to the sun for maximum reflection.

Oriole, winging it, warbled a warning into Igno's warped ear. "Minious is green, for chirp's sake, green, chirp chirp–green with envy." "Owl warned us about admiring an alligator's teeth in the sun," she warbled on. Igno said, "Oriole, you're spoiling my fun." She flew away still warbling, but her warning did not register on Igno. It was too late. The reflection from the alligator's teeth had blinded Igno to the truth, causing infidelity, mood swings, poor judgment and danger to him and his loved ones.

Minious allowed Igno to ride around on her slimy, green back so long as he kept on admiring her teeth. They were, indeed, soulmates now. Together, Igno and Minious became one–Ignominious. One cloudy day, Igno finally realized that he really had nothing in common with the uncommonly common alligator and indeed didn't even like her at all. Without the glare of the sun, he came to his senses, realized he loved only Oriole and told Minious he was leaving to look for Oriole. First, he was nearly drowned by large, soggy alligator tears. Then a blinding smile appeared on Minious's face as her big teeth caught the last rays of the setting sun peeking out from the clouds. Unfortunately for Igno, at that very moment a big hunger came over Minious as he leaned in to get a better view of her teeth. She lost control of her appetite, made Igno into a fillet of soulmate, and downed it in one bite. Then she burped, polished her teeth and waddled off, her sated belly dragging through the mud, looking for a new soulmate.

The only good that came of this ignominious affair was that Igno now resides on the Other Side and is having fun again with his old pal, Owl (even if Owl has replaced "hoots" with "told-ya-so's.") They both miss Oriole and are awaiting her arrival. But they know that it will not be anytime soon because Oriole is too smart to admire an alligator's teeth in the sun. She knows that– ...

Alligators make better shoes than soulmates.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Portrait of A Wildflower

Wildflower, acrylic on linen, 30 x 24 inches, cropped x

WILDFLOWER IS AT ONE WITH NATURE.  Serpentine armrests  provide comfort and support as they frame and embrace her. A forked tongue wraps around her wrist, fashioning itself into a bracelet.  A butterfly sits atop her head as beautiful as any chapeau and even extends its veins onto her face as a decorative and symbiotic veil.  Wildflower's braids defy gravity, twisting and twirling gracefully through the air. Perhaps they take their cue from the snakes.  Wildflower is  botanically correct with  her pale pink decolletage of field roses. One hundred year old pressed wildflowersviolets, adorn her neck.

She is beautiful, independent, prolific and  grows freely on her own Still, nobody wants her in their garden; they say she is uncultured.  I don't know why.

She's  a natural beauty.

Monday, May 30, 2016


Out of the Woods, acrylic on linen, 30 x 24 inches

 I AM ALWAYS AMAZED by the multifaceted meanings of English language words. Take for instance the word hatching. The definitions given by the Merriam Webster dictionary include:

1. to cause young to emerge from the egg, as by brooding or incubating.

2. to bring forth or produce; devise; create; contrive; concoct: to hatch a scheme .

3. drawing of fine lines in close proximity, especially to give an effect of shading; also: the pattern so made.

I started the above painting of a girl with approaching wolf a while  ago.  I was stumped as to how to finish it so it has been incubating in a corner in my studio.

It caught my eye recently. Though unfinished, the painting is going in the same direction as the paintings I am making currently.  I discovered a sketch of a wolf in man's clothing taped to the back of it. Because of that find, I knew exactly how to complete the painting. In my excitement, I lifted the painting quickly and placed it on the easel with a loud thud.

Wolf in Man's Clothing, pencil on paper, 3 x 5 inches

To emphasize that I've-got-it moment, I  thought I heard applause. It was a thunderous flapping of wings, made by a startled dove leaving his nest in my window box. Upon closer inspection of the window box,  I could see that a female dove was sitting on an egg.

I thought about the symmetry of it all. At the very moment I was hatching my idea for my painting, mother  Dove was hatching her egg.

I started work on my painting and with the quieter hatching work of penciling in the basket, the male  dove returned to keep us both company during our respective hatching.

At day's end, I  went to bed thinking about the similarity between me and the doves and nature and humanity.  It was then that I realized we are all equal. I demonstrate that  harmony between human beings and nature in my paintings.

It tickled me and supported my realization to think that while I was being warmed by my feather duvet, the dove's baby was being warmed inside its egg by the "duvet "of his mother's luxuriously feathered body.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fresh Start Thursday

DJR, digital painting #1

IT'S FRESH START THURSDAY (FST). When you see a post marked FST, you know I will be showing you something that I never did before, or if I did do it, not very often, and I definitely didn't show it to anyone and I'm not that great at it, but that didn't stop me from doing it. (That's gotta be a FST for longest run-on sentence I ever wrote.) Hey, even Picasso had his "bad" days. However, if someone gave you a "bad" Picasso, would you say that you didn't want it? Today's painting is my first iPad painting ever. I drew and painted directly on my IPad with colors and brushes from out of thin air. I didn't (and still don't) really know how to use iPad painting programs. The original art stays in the ether, but if you like it, I can make a print of it for you or of any of my paintings for that matter. Just let me know.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Shape of Things

Coming of Age, acrylic on linen, 24 x 18 inches

FIGURE STUDIES  are an important  part of our history of art.  They have been around since  the time of the cave drawings at Lascaux, France, where many depictions of human figures were discovered along with the animals and symbols.

I suspect these figures were drawn by men because in early America at least, women were not even allowed to draw from live models.  Until the 20th century, women were restricted to drawing from plaster casts. The  American painter Mary Cassatt (1844 -1926) had to leave the country and go to Paris to learn to paint. She felt she was not learning anything at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, because she, as a woman, was not allowed to draw from live models. At the time it was thought to be bad and even dangerous for women to do so. I guess that would have been called an artist's lament. 

I am happy academics are more enlightened now because one of the most thrilling work that an artist can do is studies from the live human form. I am very lucky because in my undergraduate days I studied drawing under the late, great Jack Potter, a famous artist in his own right. He relentlessly reminded me and my classmates in life classes that we were not drawing people or anatomy, but rather shapes. In his class we were not even allowed to refer to the anatomical names for body parts. For instance, we could not say, "The model's right elbow is out of line."  We had to refer to the model's  "shape," not her  "elbow." If we did, Mr. Potter would remind us, "The model has no elbow, she has a shape."

That was the major breakthrough in my drawing. If you think about it, a  shape, or in this case an angle, is a lot easier to draw than a "flexed arm." It is far less intimidating when you don't have to consider skin texture, hair,  muscles, tendons, nerves, bones,  joints, fingers and so forth. In addition, by simplifying, one achieves a more spontaneous drawing . Once you have the overall shape, you can go back and put in as many of the visual details as you need to tell your story.

Figure Study, drawn with paint on canvas

I hope you like the shape of things!

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Pills, Pen and ink on paper with digital color, 7 x 5 inches xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


BILLY is frilly
and Willy's so plain
Don't see how Willy
can get rid of pain.

I pay the big bill
when I've got a chill
for it's more than a thrill
to cure what's ill.

Ate a cheesesteak in Philly
Got cramps willy nilly
Bill was not there, so I took a Willy
Turned my cramps into a dilly.

It may sound silly
to like Bill over Willy
Which  makes me a pill
Like Billy and Willy.

Rx - If reading this has given you a headache, take two Willies and  call me in the morning -
Dr. Susan

Sunday, May 15, 2016

She's Leaving Home

Leaving Home, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches

IN LEAVING HOME, I have focused on the concept of “wings,” as reflected in insects, birds and even human beings. I combine elements of reality and fantasy in ways that shed a new light on the interrelationships between humans and the natural world around us. Sometimes the division is clear; on other occasions the two worlds melt into one.

Detail of the Village, right corner of canvas

Above you can see a closeup of the village that she's leaving (lower right corner) with parents waving goodbye It looks like Chagall himself painted the village, but he did not. It was I!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mistaken Identity

ONE DAY, I was in the basement at our cottage, Foxglove,
 and I saw a scorpion.


 I DID! –even though Foxglove is in Connecticut! Well, that made me very anxious because I thought it would probably try to kill me. So I called our pest control company, Master Shield, and requested they come to my house immediately to take care of this urgent, life threatening problem. This is what their technician said to me. "Lady, we're not coming; we don't do scorpions, only plain old-fashioned Connecticut bugs."

I told my husband of my problem. He said, "They can't do that. We have a contract with them. I paid for emergency house calls." Please note. My husband DIDN'T EVEN CARE THAT WE HAD A SCORPION IN THE HOUSE. He only cared that he wasn't getting his money's worth. In a huff, he called Master Shield himself. The technician reiterated that if a scorpion were in the basement, they don't do scorpions. To which my husband replied "And would you believe my wife if she told you that the Loch Ness Monster was swimming in our lake?"

This is what happened next:

Master Shield was here within the half hour; found not a scorpion but a plain, old-fashioned Connecticut bug, a mole cricket in our basement and per my request, left it well and alive in the basement, where it still resides today.


Wait.  Gotta go. I think I see something ... moving ... swimming ... in  ... the ... lake. Oh, it's probably nothing ... just a log ... or ...  maybe ... it's ... somethiiiiiiiiiiing.............ELSE.  Gotta call Master Shield and tell them!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Flower God

PAINTINGS: Nicole, Iris Allee, at Eric Landgraf NYC xxxxx

PAINTINGS: Bi-Directional,, Iris Allee at Eric Landgraf, NYC

I AM A FLOWER GIRL–and a very lucky flower girl at that– because I have had a long and fruitful, or perhaps I should say flowerful, relationship with the Flower God. I have known him for all eternity plus infinity. His name is Eric Landgraf, but don't be fooled. That would be his mortal name were he to be mortal. But that has not, is not, cannot and never will be the case. He owns Eric Landgraf Florist, on York Avenue in Manhattan. But his emporium is not really a flower shop as we know it. The Flower God doesn't merely arrange flowers; he paints with them, sculpts them, coddles them into magnificent submission. After he touches them with his magic, they are no longer flowers, they are art. For dinner parties he creates centerpieces of thyme, zucchini flowers and rosemary, tethered with fanciful loops of spun honey. But you have to keep an eye on your dinner guests because they occasionally try to eat those.

He never advertises (that is how I know he is not mortal) and the sign on his shop is so small I could cover it with the palm of my hand. Yet the chicest people, clubs, advertising agencies, coops and restaurants all want his flowers. He makes flowers for the stars–and I mean that in both senses of the word. He sends flowers to his longtime customer Jackie O in heaven. She loves his creations and is more than willing to pay the extra charge for delivery to heaven because the local flowers are just not as heavenly as Eric Landgraf's.

Generally, the Flower God is beneficent, kindly and jovial. But don't ever ask him for a bouquet with mums or babies breath in it. He doesn't believe that they are even florae and therefore will not allow them to sully his shop. He would be very angry should you ask for them and would probably brain you with a bunch of pussy willow branches or prick you all over with rose thorns.

Today the Flower God took our relationship to the next level. He graciously turned the entire front window of his shop over to me, a mere mortal painter, for use as my personal gallery space. As if that were not enough, he also let me design the window and choose the paintings I wanted to exhibit with no input from him. This really surprised me because (don't tell him I said so) sometimes he is really bossy. When I asked him which of the exquisitely beautiful gift items in the shop he wanted me to include, he reminded me that it was my decision. I was in charge, he said, and his only role was as a carpenter to hang my 72" wide painting Iris Allee from the ceiling. (Hmm, that sounds eerily reminiscent of another divine, sandal-clad carpenter.) Then, radiantly washed with amber rays from the sun, posed on high atop his 19th century French antique ladder, flower-printed hammer and phillips screw driver aloft, he looked down upon me and softly said, "Now who else would put a hole in their ceiling for you?"

PAINTINGS: Nicole, Bi-directionalL and Iris Allee at Eric Langraf NYC

Since that divine moment, many theological questions have been troubling me: Is the Flower God's heart comprised of Dicentra spectabilis? When it is time to change the window display, will the Flower God put another hole in his ceiling for me? Do I, a mere acolyte, have a chance to someday become a Flower Demigod?

Only thyme will tell.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Severed Cords

Severed Cords, pen and ink on paper, 8 x 11 inches


HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.  I actually liked it better before the umbilical and telephonic cords were cut. Nonetheless, I hope you are having a heavenly day in heaven. Probably all the days there are heavenly, so what do you call it when it is a special day? Earthly?  I would love to know, but unfortunately we never get to talk anymore what with you in heaven and me on earth.

With all of the new technology, I can't believe I can talk to someone in Mozambique on Facebook, which is thrilling in it's own way, but I cannot talk to my Mom! I'm amazed that some brilliant astrophysicist has not yet figured out how to enable us to talk to those we love after they leave the planet.  After all, we (or at least those of us who are old enough) have watched astronauts walk on the moon.  We saw them take one small step for man in boots so unattractive it made me cringe.

What about doing this for mankind? Let the people who are missing their mothers talk to them. I think that would be a worthwhile scientific endeavor.  I would rather spend money for that than to watch one small step in some majorly ugly boots. Which one would you vote for? I know my vote is going for talking to my Mother.  Her name was Babe Bisgood and she was more interesting than any astronaut.

Since no one else seems to be working on it, I have applied my astonishingly unscientific, nontechnical mind to the problem.  Hey! You never know–a fresh outlook and all. I'll never be hired by NASA. I've got a different kind of mind.  I think I've got it. I'm confident it is original thinking.  What if we simply dial our old phone number from when we were children (In my case, SPencer 9–6134–wish I had my childhood Princess telephone on which to call)  Your parents and you carry the old number with you like sort of a primitive precursor of the barcode.  Why do you think you've never forgotten your old phone number in the first place?  This is the reason. It's just that nobody ever realized it before. I am not even thinking of becoming famous here. I'm just thinking about talking to my Mother.

OK. It's Mother's Day and I'm going to try it. I'm calling.  Here goes ... S.P.e.n.c.e.r. ... It's ringing ... that's a good sign. Hmmm ... no answer. Well, maybe Mom's out for Mother's Day.  I hope so and I hope she is having a wonderful time.  There is no recording asking me to leave a message, so maybe there is no voicemail in heaven.  Maybe God's not that into technology.  I should think not.  After all, He's very old.

No answer ... that's OK  No prolem, Mom.  Love you and catch you tomorrow.


Monday, May 2, 2016

An Artist Thing

An Artist's Thing, pen and ink on paper, digital color

YOU MIGHT NOT THINK SO, but painting is a lot like cleaning. In painting you start with a surface (the canvas), apply media to it, swirl it around a bit, and then polish it with glazes. By doing this, you are changing and improving the surface of the canvas. After you complete your work, there is an image on it. It is now pleasing to look at. In cleaning, you also start with surfaces–say a window. You squirt some Windex on it, swirl it around, and polish with a dry cloth. You have altered its surface so that it has a high sheen and you can see your reflection in it –that's an image.

All my life I have been going for the image. I am told that when I was a toddler, I would have a fit if I got even one nano-sized spot of chocolate ice cream on my dress. I would scream and beat my little fists on the floor until my mother changed my dress. She apparently didn't understand why a little girl would care so much about a slightly soiled dress. She did not yet know that I would be an artist. Artists go for the image.

Detail of Susan the Immaculate, pen, ink on paper, digital color

A few years later, Mrs. Gordon, our housekeeper would yell at my brother and sister because their rooms were habitually littered with empty soda bottles, half-eaten tuna sandwiches, dirty underwear and the odoriferous remnants of chemistry experiments gone bad. (They did not grow up to be artists.) She would tell them, "Look at Susie's room. Everything is so neat and clean in there. All I have to do in there is pull up the bed covers." You can imagine how this endeared me to my siblings. But that really was all Mrs. Gordon had to do. My room was the precursor to my canvas.

As a teenager, I took so many baths (I am now down to a maximum of two a day) that my father began calling me "Susan the Immaculate"–and we weren't even Catholic. I was just going for the freshly-scrubbed image. My parents still didn't know that I would become an artist and neither did I. I just thought that I would be really clean.

Perhaps I went too far when I was straightening up the upstairs bedrooms in my parents' house. My father once had one of his surgeon buddies sleep over at the house. They both left their false teeth on their respective bedside tables. I didn't like the way that looked so I put their dentures in the bathroom cabinet. It was pretty funny the next morning seeing two world famous surgeons searching around, grumbling "Where'd we put our teeth!" (Actually, it sounded like "derew ew tup ruo hteet!")

When I got my first apartment, my friends knew that they were not permitted to leave their hand bags on the floor. I explained to them that it was tantamount to taking a handful of red paint and hurling it at one of my paintings. Neither the handbag nor the paint belonged. They were not part of the composition. If the handbags were pretty enough, my guests could put them on the hall table.  But if left on the floor or ugly, their handbags would be whisked away, or "hidden" as my husband now calls this behavior, not to be seen again until their departure. My smarter friends always chose a apretty bag when coming to visit and asked, "Is this pretty enough for the table?"

 Susan the Immaculate, pen, ink on paper, digital color

In graduate school at NYU, although I had a near-perfect GPA, not one professor ever commented favorably on my paintings. Professor Humphreys said "Wow!" once, but that's because it was a nude (who looked remarkably like me) with butterflies coming out of her stomach. However, at the beginning of every studio painting class, when my fellow students were running out to buy a canvas, or were out of cerulean blue, or in the most egregious cases forgot that it was a studio day altogether and did not bring their brushes and paints, I was always highly complimented. Numerous professors asked their classes "Why can't you be more organized. Look at Ms. McLaughlin. She has her paints all mixed because she keeps them all in air-tight jars so they don't dry out, her canvas is already sized and primed, she's researched her subject and she is blocking in her paint rough already. And you are first going out to the art supply store?" I know this sounds more like kindergarten than grad school, but it really happened. One of my fellow students, with paint dripping all over her, once announced that she had tried and failed to imagine me with even one spot of paint on myself. A practicing psychiatrist who for some reason was auditing one of my studio classes declared me "pathologically neat."

One day shortly after I graduated, I was surprised by none other than the head of NYU's painting program himself. He came upon me as I was exiting my personal studio at the school. After not making a single comment about my work the entire year, he said to me, "There are some mighty exciting paintings in that studio of yours." Before I could even thank him, he followed with, "Would you mind getting them out of there along with your easel and paints. I've got two students coming in tomorrow from Japan and I need the studio for them." He didn't really like my paintings, he didn't even like my organizational skills, he just liked my leaving!

To this day I cannot start painting until everything in my studio is clean, shiny and perfectly arranged. I would be more concerned about what might appear to be the manifestations of obsessive–compulsion disorder, had I not read a biography of Willem de Kooning. Luckily, I had learned that every Saturday morning, the great artist would strip the wood floors in his studio, and clean and polish them himself. He thought it very important that his floors shine. Before he could start reflecting on his canvas, he wanted to see his reflection in his floors.

It must be an artist thing.