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 3, 2019

Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches, 
                  
GARDEN PARTY

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."


Shhhh…listen,


You can view and purchase my work on my website susanmclaughlinart.com/

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Merboy

Merboy, digital painting


H E FELT A TUG about his back
And then his muscles all went slack
His skin turned glossy, black and slick
He started to pick, but it grew too quick...

My boy.

It was thin and pointed
I  tried to anoint it
But larger and higher it got
Oddly enough, he liked it a lot...

My boy. 

When it morphed into a dorsal fin
He could not even hide his grin
Then his legs stuck together like glue
Inseparable! That made me  blue...

My boy.

His left then right foot splayed way out
I actually watched his fishtail sprout
He could not walk
Just flopped about...

My boy.

He now looked more like a dolphin
Than a kid fond of swimming and golfin'
I tried to keep him in a tank
But he said, "Glug! I gotta be frank..."

My boy?

"I see the sea not thee for me"
We sailed––SPLASH!–"Hard alee!"
It had to be; he dove in the sea
Windsong chanting, "Free, free, freeeeeeeee."

Merboy!


Sunday, June 30, 2019

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, May 13, 2019

Insect Queen





We called my father “Daddy Long Legs” because he was tall and had extremely long legs. He told us that he had been drafted by the New York Knicks, but had decided to become a surgeon and use his extremely long fingers instead. Of course, he was a pathological liar and there is no evidence to support his claim that he was drafted to play professional basketball. However, he really did become a surgeon.
I offer this bit of family history as an explanation for my kindly and unusual relationship with insects. I am in awe of their exquisitely designed, exotic little bodies. Their shape, construction, patterns and colors serve as inspiration for me as an artist. I am amazed by their variety: they outnumber any other class in the animal kingdom. I feel it is my duty to take care of them. In fact, I love them. This is called father-insect transference.

My husband on the other hand, dislikes and is frightened by these little bugs. He believes they are terrifying and the ugliest things he has ever seen. If an insect is in a room, he will not enter until I have removed the alien offender. I perform this task with kid gloves – not for my protection, but so I do not injure their vulnerable little bodies, frail limbs and antennae. I relocate them to the gardens outside of our cottage. Other services I perform for them are as follows: I have removed them from my dog’s mouth when she decided to make a snack out of them; I let spiders spin their webs in my gardening hat – sort of like a veil (I only ask that they do not have too large a family); I import ten thousand lady bugs every summer to live happily in my perennial garden; I pray over dead praying mantises.

One very hot and sunny summer day, I was weeding in my rock garden along with forty or so pollinating bees. They were swirling all around me, even my face, and sometimes even landing on me. I was not afraid. They are my co-workers and friends. (I have only been stung once in many years and I am sure that sting was an accident.) I noticed my husband watching me from the porch, lemonade in hand, with a huge smile on his face. Through the jalousies he called, “I’m the luckiest man in the world.” I called back, “Why? Because I love you, I’m a good gardener, my visa bill was low, pretty, smart, talented, good worker , cook, what….” He replied, “No, because when the insects take over the world and kill all human beings, you will be their queen and they will spare me because I am married to you.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Turtle Tat



FOR THE LACK
Of a turtle on his back
Bri stopped in at the Tattoo Shack
The tatteur misunderstood
Didn't think that he could.

He was just a  hack
And lacked the knack
For painting a turtle on a back
And since he wore a thick wool hood
Couldn't hear as well as he should.

Without the least amount of  flack
He gave Bri a thunderous whack
Put all but his face in the back of the Mack
 And truly believed what he did was swell
As he glued Bri's face to a turtle shell.

The turtle dove deep into the blue
With only Bri's face as his crew
Who knew? Maybe a few
That the man who wanted a turtle tat
Would become one just like that!


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Aragonite For Breakfast


  
OYSTERS on the half shell
Delicious! - slide or chew
Not so easy though
When the eyes look up at you.

And just before my bite
It screamed, "Arrhggg, Aragonite*!
Aragonite!" with all its might
Fingers raised, staring in fright.

"Choke, choke," I heard it croak
Poke, poke, I poked the bloke
Cough, cough, it spit up a pearl
I  didn't eat but gave it a twirl

To get the pearl of course! I am a girl
With no remorse. "To the sea with ye!"–hurl!
I hung the pearl from my necklace
And then went on with my breakfast.



PS  *Aragonite is the mineral normally found in pearls.
 It is more powerful than kryptonite.

 
PPS  Only really good sports will model for me anymore.

Paint on,

Depingo