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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Monday, May 30, 2016

Hatching


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. http://www.susanmclaughlinart.com/


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

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!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Severed Cords


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























HI MOM,

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 bar code.  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.9.6.1.3.4 ... 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 problem, Mom.  Love you and catch you tomorrow.

xoxoxoxoxo
Susie

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Paper Gown

Paper Gown, pen and ink on paper, digital color













I WALKED INTO the fancier-than-I-usually-go-to -party and spotted my doctor, the love of my fantasy life. I tried to act nonchalant, but when our eyes met I blushed all over. This is one of the disadvantages (other than having people thinking you're a vampire) of being a fair-skinned redhead. You wear your emotions on your skin.

I had had many pleasant conversations with my doctor in his office while he examined me. My first visit had been an emergency necessitated by stomach pain. He actually saved my life by putting me into a cab to the hospital in time for the life-saving surgery I needed. Apparently, an ambulance would have been too slow. I live today not only for him, but because of him.

Over the years I have devised a strategy to neutralize my emotional response to my annual physicals. I dig my fingernails into my scalp.  (See above) I need the agony of nails in flesh to cancel out the ecstasy of his touch in order to appear even remotely normal. You can imagine how I feel when he says, "Please take off everything but your underpants and slip into the paper gown. I'll be back in a minute." Once, I thought I caught him studying my face. (He might have been looking for indications of brain deficiency) but other than that we are just two people in a pleasant enough, though strictly doctor/patient, relationship.

But back to the night of the party. He maneuvered his way through the herd of socialites towards me. Without a word, he guided me into a more private part of the townhouse. Finally I got a, "Hi, so nice to see you, Susan." He put his arms around me, pulled me toward him so that our bodies touched and then hugged and kissed me for what I suspect is not an acceptable length of time for a mere greeting.

"Why Susan, you're hyperventilating, your heart rate seems a little high, your forehead is hot and your cheeks are flushed," said the doctor. "Are you feeling all right?"

I replied, "I feel a little weak in the knees."

In answer he said, "Take off every thing and slip into the paper gown. I'll be back in a minute." He disappeared but, almost as an afterthought, stuck his head back into the room and said, "Oh, and please remove your underpants. "

That didn't slow down the heart rate!