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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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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.





Thursday, October 7, 2021

Freudian Slip

Homage to Lucien Freud

Lucien, heir to Rembrandt and Freud!
Unlike his granddad, a void's just a void
On which he painted pockmarked flesh
Bright, not as you'd expect - peche.

 His nudes sat with dogs and an occasional cat
Impastos made even Kate Moss look fat
Others seemed out of excess begat
Queen Elizabeth?...an old bat.

Lucien asked me to pose in the nude
I, a prude, thought this request most rude
Depingo, he asked, "You really won't strip?"
That's when he made a Freudian slip.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Flying Uni-brow


 Frida Kahlo
Lived in the shadow
Of Diego Rivera
Thinking her work was a flop.

She felt small as a  minnow
An amateur in tow
Diego Rivera
Made art hard to top.

The artist considered her uni-brow
"Ugh," she thought; then shrieked, "Wow!"
Mrs.  Rivera
Discarding her tweezer started to slop

Paint on canvas - uni-brows en masse
Deep in the crabgrass in order to outclass
Diego Rivera
Brow beating her man nonstop!





Friday, July 2, 2021

Cadavre Exquis




"CADAVRE EXQUIS" IS A PARLOR GAME INVOLVING DRAWING or words. It relies on the chance encounter as a disruption of rationality and a product of the shared. Invented and played by Andre Breton and other 1920's Surrealist artists, "Cadavre Exquis" literally translates to "Exquisite Corpse."

To play, the first artist would begin by secretly drawing a head of a person or animal. He would then fold over the paper, hiding all but a small portion of the neck. The second artist would continue the drawing. From the neck lines of the first artist, he would draw the torso, including arms, wings, tentacles, or whatever struck his fancy. He would then again fold the paper so that only a small portion of the hips or thighs was showing and pass it along. The third artist would continue drawing the legs, feet or perhaps claws and a tail, springing off from the exposed tips of the hip lines.

This is one of many ways in which the Surrealists experimented with, and exploited, the mystique of accident and collaboration. Indeed, even the name is derived from a phrase that resulted when they first played the game: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," meaning "The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine." This early game obviously was played with words rather than drawings.

An artist/curator friend recently asked me to paint a portion of a Cadavre Exquis on which he will be working with other artists. We haven't started yet, but I am eagerly looking forward to it. At the time he invited me, I was just beginning to learn Photoshop and the invitation gave me an idea. I could turn what might have been tedious Photoshop exercises into real fun by playing solitaire Cadavre Exquis. Thank you, Chuck!

I produced many collages, either from top to bottom or left to right (as in the one above) by dividing my Photoshop canvas into three parts. I took three random paintings and merged them together, continuing the lines from one image to the next with some strange and delightful results. At the time, I knew how to use the move tool, so I could move corresponding body parts of three different paintings into compositional alignment. But I had yet to learn image resizing, so the sections of the various paintings are not all the same image size. Though I was playing solitaire, it is still very much in the spirit of Cadavre Exquis.


One of the most beautiful and surprising accidents of the composite painting above is the strong lavender-suited forearm energetically jutting out of the background without a body of its own (left side center–leading to the hand with bluebird perched on it in the second mid-section.) I was stunned when I noticed it. At first I thought it must be magic because I did not actually ever draw a lavender forearm on any of the paintings which I combined. It seemingly emerged on its own from an abyss in the lavender background. In fact, it is the lavender background, re-articulated visually as a forearm by framing between the seat and the back of the chair. Chance had it that the defined space is the same shape and at the same angle as it would have been if I had actually drawn it there. Because it serendipitously leads to and connects with a hand in the next section, it strongly suggests "forearm" to the viewer. It is amazing to me because I had nothing to do with it. It is also haunting because it is echoes a remembered image of the government recruiting posters picturing Uncle Sam's pointing finger with the message, "Uncle Sam wants you"– in my case, to have more artistic accidents, I guess.


Well, accidents will happen! In additional to the magically-appearing forearm, the composite rendering of half my nephew's face on top of my best friend's face (right side of composite face) looks suspiciously like Keven Spacey. And to think I would have never known this, had I not entertained myself playing Cadave Exquis solitaire.



Monday, May 24, 2021

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, April 8, 2021

Yeoman

Digital Painting

I HAVE A SUITOR

You can see him in this snapshot I took from my balcony.  By the way, you don't need to mention this to my husband.

My suitor (I so prefer that term to "stalker") is incredibly handsome and well groomed, with perfect posture. He always wears his uniform. I have identified it as the uniform that the Beefeaters wear save two minor differences.  The breeches and fuzzy high hat are both white, rather than scarlet and black, respectively. Queen Elizabeth has such a sense of style! She had the exact same uniform made up for my guard but with the white hat and breeches. This, of course,  is the Florida version of the Beefeaters' uniform.

He definitely has been sent from the Queen and is one of the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London.  His London counterparts' duties are, theoretically, to look after prisoners in the Tower and to safeguard the Crown Jewels.

I have no prisoners here at Ocean Place Palace, except for, say, my husband. But I have lots of jewelry. The Queen is an avid reader of my blog, got worried and sent one of her guys over to guard it for me. She has always been an extremely kind and generous fan.

My guard stations himself, stiff as a board  under my balcony day and night. I call, "Good morning, Yeoman" to him from my balcony, as did Juliet to Romeo. Indeed, I surreptitiously blow kisses to him during cocktail hours. My husband, puzzled, wonders, "What on earth is Susan up to  now?" as my kisses float off into the sea-scented air. At night I call down, "Sweet dreams,  my Yeoman."  Just as  strict  as any Beefeater at the Palace, he never responds in any way - just stands there  erect and immobile, not so much as a hint of a smile or the blinking of an eye. Still, I know he loves me.

Today is the last day here at my sand castle.  I am thinking that I cannot bear to leave Yeoman. He is a part of me now and has really gotten under my skin. I have decided to throw caution to the wind. I will go down on the beach and thank Yeoman for being there for me. Perhaps I'll kiss him goodbye and see what ensues. I am so excited to actually meet him.

Post script

Good heavens! I am shocked and dismayed. Perception has played a cruel trick on me.  There is no Yeoman–never was at all. I have fallen in love with a lifesaver stand!


Digital painting










Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Privilege Is in the Painting

 Chicken Coop, McLaughlin, 30 x 24 inchesxxxxxxx

I SAW A FASCINATING PLAY:   The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall. A true story, it centers around a group of English coal miners who transformed themselves into renowned artists known as the Ashington Group. The miners, who referred to themselves as "pitmen," worked on their paintings at night, after performing long days of backbreaking labor in dark, dank, dusty, oxygen-deprived pits in the ground in Northumberland. What a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) painting must have been for them.

The miners' original idea was to enhance their lives through an art appreciation class. They were to meet once a week in their hut with Robert Lyon, an instructor in art history at a local college. After the first few meetings, however, Lyon discovered that the minors lacked sufficient vocabularies to understand his talks on the great art of the world or even to discuss the slides he projected among themselves. Instead, he brought in paints, brushes and canvases and told the men that they were going to start to paint.

The pitmen vehemently protested that they couldn't possibly paint because they had no skills or training in anything, let alone art. Most of them had left school and commenced working in the mines at around age 10. Despite their misgivings, Lyon prevailed and the men started painting. The instructor encouraged them to paint what they felt inside. As they continued, painting not only enhanced their lives but gave them self esteem. One of the pitmen, after completing his first painting said:


I was shaking–literally shaking—‘cos for the first time in me life, I’d really achieved something that was mine…. And I felt like for those few hours there—I was my own boss.

Lyon's advice, painting what you feel inside, is good advice for any painter, including myself. I have been learning Photoshop recently. This involves drawing and painting on an external tablet while watching the work appear on the computer monitor. Pretty tricky when you're not used to it! Though I am convinced Photoshop will eventually enhance my work, the learning process has temporarily set me back some in terms of drawing and painting. It has negated (temporarily, I hope) my formal, graduate-level university training. I feel that I am starting all over again. So I can empathize with the pitmen. I have heeded their instructor's advice and have started to paint what I feel inside, rather than worrying about my technical acumen.

While Photoshopping, I painted my cat predominantly purple because I couldn't find a way to switch to another color. While practicing color gradients, everything I produced looked like a Jimi Hendrix album cover. Don't let this get around, but when using the polygonal lasso, I could not stop it. It lassoed everything in my drawing, then my house including my dog and cat and then went after me. I finally had to pull out the electrical cord, shut the door and leave the house in order to escape. Then I said to myself, "Yes, I'll draw what I feel like inside–which was a glass of wine. Eventually, though, I became comfortable with my new friend, Photoshop, just as the pitmen did with their brushes, paints and canvases.

I, like the miners, discovered that you get better results when you think of painting as a means of self-expression and not of perfection. My nascent Photoshop paintings and drawings, though far from technically perfect, really do express what I feel inside.

After the Ashington Group became famous, Lyon wrote a dissertation about the project and was appointed to a professorship at the Edinburgh College of Art. The Ashington's Group's star painter, Oliver Kilbourn, complained to Lyon that he was just as talented as the Professor, and, indeed, a good enough painter to be in the professor's position. Kilbourn believed that the only reason Lyon, and not he, held the position was that Lyon was a member of the privileged upper class and had the advantage of advanced education and training which was not available to the working class. To that the professor replied with something I have known and felt my entire life:

The privilege is not in the class, the privilege is in the painting.

Paint on,
Depingo

* You can see the Ashington Group's paintings *here.
**Thanks to Li Gardner, my teacher, for keeping me out of the Photoshop insane asylum.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Me Write Pretty Tomorrow

Susan and David, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches


SINCE IT IS MY EDITOR, David Rosen's, birthday today, this post is about his work on my blog. I would like to thank him for turning my uncut rough diamond-esque posts into the dazzling gems with clarity, cut and color that they become after he works his magic. Without his skill, my blog might possibly be entitled, "Random Thoughts About Random Stuff" or "A Blog - Not as We Know One." He is a natural born editor and easily removes the wheat from the chase; or is it chafe, err, uh, maybe staff? Got it– –laugh! No, chaff!

See what I mean.  I really need him! When he edits my prose, it tickles me down to the tips of my toes, right through my pantyhose. My word! I can't even tell he has had his way with my...words.

We met as he was commencing his legal career. He did the impossible and obtained a divorce for me from the Prince of Darkness, who really is a dangling participle. Extricating me from such an evil force required him to pull out all the verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections he ever knew–especially interjections–or do I mean expletives? After performing all that legal work for me, as he likes to put it, he got a promotion and became my husband. Now he concomitantly fills an even higher post as my editor. I thought that if I made him my editor, me write pretty one day.

Note to David: Happy Birthday! Thought it would be fun for you to read a post on which you didn't do any work. I hope you like my syntax. I love yours and I will love it for infinitive. Is that right? No, infinity!

Oh, never mind, you get the day off for your birthday. Me write pretty tomorrow!

Disclaimer: I assure you David Rosen did not edit this post.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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!


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Busy as a Bee




THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS CAPRICIOUS and difficult to learn. My friend, Bea, a Brazilian who is currently living in New York and learning the language, recently told me that she had "inhaled" all of the dust from her bookshelves. "Kinky," I thought, until I figured out that she had meant to use the word "vacuumed." Well, she got the concept right; both words mean to draw in matter.

Bea told me that now even her name confused her. In Portuguese it is just her name, but in English, it is not only her name but also means various other things.

I explained the three Bs–"be," "Bea," and "bee"– to her as clearly as I could. The three B's might even be harder to learn than the ABCs because of their similar pronunciation and varying spelling and definitions.

The word "be" is defined as to exist actually;

"Bea" is a given female name like hers, or if capitalized, an acronym (BEA) for the US Bureau of Economic Analysis; and

"Bee" is a yellow and black striped, winged, hairy-bodied, stinging, pollinating insect.

Bea mentioned that she had heard the expression "busy as a bee" and wondered what it meant. I told her about the bees' checkered work history and how their work performance has been aggrandized over the years. Most people think that bees are the hardest working insects in nature–a virtual paradigm of the word "busy"–and liken busy people to them. Thus, the expression, "busy as a bee." Geoffrey Chaucer started the busy bee rumor in his Canterbury Tales, (the Squire's Tale), way back in the fourteenth century, when he wrote,

"... In wommen be; for ay as busy as bees
Be thay us seely men for to desceyve..."

The buzz is that bees are not actually hardworking, industrious insects. Sure they are great pollinators but what is that ... just sex with flowers. Bees work neither efficiently nor hard. They are in fact very laid back workers and work only under certain conditions.

Apparently, they belong to a very powerful union, the Bee Labor Union for Easy-life, known colloquially amongst bees as BLUE. In true BLUE spirit, these bluebloods of the order Hymenoptera don't work if they're feeling a bit blue. And here are some of the conditions that make them blue: Bees don't even venture outside, let alone work, if it's too windy, too still, too sunny , too shady, too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, too early, too late, too midday, too bright or too dark. This leaves a very small window of working opportunity in which those "busy" bees can perform their job. If any of these adverse conditions prevail, they ask themselves, as if they were Shakespeare,

"to be, or not to be [working], that is the question"

Their answer is always, "bzzzzz ... nooooo!" Under the aforementioned circumstances, they simply are not going to wake up, leave their comfy, warm hives and that absolutely gorgeous queen and go out to work. They don't think so. "Bzzzzzzzz ... noooo!" They would rather stay home and ...

Bee well.

Paint on,
Depingo