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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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Swan Lake

Walking the Swans, acrylic on linen, 50 x 40 inches

NOW THAT SPRING has sprung, we all start acting a little kittenish. That is all very well and good for kittens and maybe even people, but when swans act kittenish, it is a remarkable theatrical event. I will block it out for you.

Playbill: Mr. and Mrs. Swan rule the lake  at Foxglove and I am merely one of their subjects. I am blessed to have the best seat on the lake, Foxglove Cottage, front row center, from which to observe the spring drama.

Orchestra: A startlingly loud cacophony of thunderous crashes and cracks. The orchestration ascends into a clashing, frenzied crescendo. That is the ice on the lake breaking up, pulling away from the shore and crashing into big ice chunks. It eventually melts and drifts.

Cue Swans: Swans can be seen in the distance swimming in the small channels of water between ice chunks.

Orchestra: Suddenly all is quiet but for a gentle, soothing, lapping sound. The ice has vanished. There are whitecaps on the lake and a slow, swelling underscore of birdsong.

Enter Swans Left Front Stage from the air: Swans are chasing each other, flying low, at eye level, in tandem, just short of ramming into each other.

Enter Swans Right Front Stage from the air: Swans are still chasing after one another, flying low, at eye level, in tandem just short of ramming into other. (Repeat the above two stage directions every day for two weeks, three times a day)

Swans Center Stage: Scenery: Deserted, wild peninsula. The swans are very tired after all that flying and "catting" around. They lounge on the peninsula for hours a day, grooming themselves meticulously and hissing at each other. They are not angry; they are mute and hissing is the only sound they can make. They think it is okay though, because "hiss" sounds like "kiss." Mrs. Swan has gotten herself so white and fluffy that when she sits, her feathers plume out and flutter as if she were wearing a ballerina's tutu. For now, she feels she is "in" Swan Lake, not "on" Swan Lake. She is beautiful and is getting ready for her big date. The one where she and Mr. Swan mate.

She has already constructed her throne-like nest where she will sit atop her future cygnets for 35 days, keeping them warm while they are encased in eggs. The nest is very large, gold in color and made up of twigs and other salvaged natural materials. Mrs. Swan is a very good architect and builder. Her nest looks like a wicker chair without the back and is just as strong.

Choreography: Mr. Swan provocatively struts around the peninsula while Mrs. Swan and I watch transfixed, becoming more enchanted every minute. Suddenly his movement becomes jerky and more frantic and he breaks into what looks to me like James Brown doing the funky chicken. Perhaps, Mr. Swan does the funky swan. Whatever the dance, it is irresistible and Mrs. Swan joins in. Finally she backs into him and they peacefully stay in that position for some hours.

After the date, Ms. Swan retires to her nest thinking, "He is the only swan for me. I'm glad we mated for life" and Mr. Swan has a cigarette. No, only kidding, he goes for a swim.

Second Act, 35 days later:

Orchestra: A barely audible cracking and shuffling noise. The cygnets are hatched. Mrs. Swan, carrying five of them on her back, immediately waddles into the lake, slides them off her back and they all swim away in a line. They call on us here at Foxglove for daily visits, but never again return to their birthing nest. In fact, they never return to the peninsula at all except for one or two fall "swan song" picnics for the sygnets, who must now leave Swan Lake and find mates and lakes of their own.

Final Stage Direction: Now, only the hushed sound of flapping wings can be heard as the sygnets disappear into the sunset...forever.



  1. Your description is so beautiful that I can picture the whole ensemble and hear the orchestra. Encore, encore!

  2. These are great.
    I knew you were an extremely talented visual artist, but had no idea you were also a gifted writer.
    I've only read two so far but shall soon vanquish my bloglog!