Interview with Artist Sue Smith
At Beard's Framing, we love bringing you insight and perspectives from artists and creators. Today, we have an interview with painter Sue Smith.
Beard's Framing: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Sue Smith: I grew up in a household that valued music and horses, but I hated playing piano, and horses terrified me: I decided early on I would do something else for a living. It wasn’t until I was fifty that I realized I wanted to be an artist. This acknowledgement led to a journey that recreated my life in ways I never expected.
BF: How would you describe your painting style?
SS: In over 16 years of painting, my style has changed from modern abstract to realism, and finally into what David Leffel describes as Abstract Realism. It’s as much about the abstract beauty of paint blobs and color as it is composition and subject matter. I’m not sure how a subject evolves: I start with a visual source, but as the painting progresses other things come in to play. What I end with is rarely what I started with, which is why so many artists talk about the mystery and the flow when they work.
BF: In addition to a painting blog, you also run a blog sharing thoughts about creativity. How do these two blog styles work together?
SS: When I started my blog in 2007, there were few resources available, so I started writing in response to my own sense of isolation. As a mature artist who was newly entering the field, I was competing with people either half my age, or who had been painting successfully for decades. I had come across a research project that profiled artists in New York City, people who were both unknown and at the end of their creative lives. I realized that the hardest part of being an artist was carrying on the face of rejection and this was particularly true for those entering the field after the age of fifty, who are often dismissed as hobbyists and not serious artists. I felt that my readers were more interested in the ideas and not in a catalog of my own work, so I tried to keep the two separate. What I wanted to offer was the example of my own struggles, failures, and perseverance.
BF: What are some of your artistic influences and inspirations?
SS: Titian. I still remember standing transfixed in front of his painting Venus of Urbino, realizing with shock what painting was really about, the ability of the artist to reach out across centuries and still impact the human heart.
Quang Ho, Rose Frantzen, Sherrie McGraw and David Leffel have shared insights that clarified some of my artistic questions. I have studied Sargent’s work, and Sorolla. The Spanish Realist Antonio Lopez Garcia, Italian artist Daniela Astone, and of course Richard Schmid have all influenced my work in some respect. All leave me humbled by the confidence in their unique voices, something I continue to strive for in my own work.
BF: Tell me about one of your recent works that you're especially proud of.
SS: I recently completed a painting called Opal Springs. The light in this painting is wonderful, but what I really appreciate is a comment from one of my readers, she said: "You paint water so well I can actually hear it. I fell in love immediately, and that never happens to me."