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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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Energizer Bunny School of Art

Harrison at Foxglove

LIKE THE AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST, MARY CASSATT, who often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children, and Sally Mann, one of my favorite photographers, I am content to spend a great deal of time painting family members and family life, past and present.

It is not always easy for me to get family members to sit still long enough for me to see what they really look like. So I have to paint them from memory and photographs and catch the occasional ephemeral real life glimpse when I can. The difficulty is to to capture their spirit as well as their physical attributes, bringing out their intangibles such as character and mood. But I do have an advantage, because I know them intimately.

 Cassatt's Sailor Boy
It wasn't easy for the painter Mary Cassatt, who had to leave America and go to Paris to learn to paint. She felt she was not learning anything in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, because she, as a woman, was not allowed to draw from live models. Women at the time were restricted to drawing from plaster casts. She said there was no teaching there and she also tired of the ridicule from the men in the program.

Sally Mann was actually accused (ridiculously so) of creating kiddy porn when she published Immediate Family, a book of black and white photographs of her three children taken at a remote spot where they could skinny dip and generally run wild.

Mann's  Family

I, too, have had my share of disrespect and discrimination from the not-so-fair sex while working as a painter. Once when I was bringing my portfolio around, the male gallery owner wondered out loud why I was showing him my paintings. He asked, "What! Is your husband out of town on business this week and you need something to do?" At another gallery on a first visit, a male gallerist, whom I did not know, asked me if I would make him a cup of coffee. I did, because I really wanted to get into that gallery. In retrospect, I wish I had served it by pouring it on his head.

We women artists are pluckier than we seem. Like the Energizer Bunny, we just keep on ticking. Tick, tick, tick. Our lives, our families and our art go on ticking too. Besides, we simply won't let ourselves get ticked off.

Paint on,


See more  Depingo family portraits by clicking here:

Alice's Aura
Painting in the Deep End of the Gene Pool