Friday, December 19, 2014

Eastern Grey Squirrels, not in my backyard.

How many opinions can one artist find acceptable or unacceptable as people react to my latest print project?
OK I must confess. I'm creating two, large linocuts (2'X3') of those furry, tree hugging, bird feeder raiding creatures called squirrels.

For me (I am a city dweller), these guys are tenaciously cute and to others: tenaciously repugnant.

I take daily walks with my Corgi, Bogart, to Lucy Park located between a canal and St. Anne's Church; a broad public area lined with benches and large oak trees. Just mention the word 'squirrel' to my Corgi and he is all pointy eared and wide-eyed (no bushy tail though).  As the squirrels busy themselves with work and play in this area, I quietly unleash my dog. He proceeds to tear up the turf chasing one or the scurries (a group of squirrels) up oak trees. Come down here! he barks.

Once a squirrel did fall from the tree onto his chest. Both animals were in a state of shock for a few milliseconds. The squirrel reacted first, bolting up the tree. Bogart looked at me and knew he missed his only life time chance to have squirrel stew.

I thought it would be great fun to create a print with squirrels poised in a variety of states looking down on us from an aerial position of superiority.  Now honestly... aren't they cute!

So here's my starting point: a lino diptych of a 'scurry' chased up an oak tree by a Corgi.
second state carving

first state print on second state linoleum
isolated and selective inking

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Upcoming Art Demonstrations and talks

On Thursday evening, September 11, I was invited by the Salem Art Association of New Hampshire to give a painting demonstration to kick off their new art year after a summer hiatus.  I started with a power point presentation, "Out in the Open", which I helped to create for high school art students interested in plein air painting. This presentation can be found at

Here's a appreciative note from the President of SAA:

 Hi Susan,

Sending a quick note of thanks for your demonstration at our art association on Thursday.

Everyone enjoyed your presentation and we were wowed by your demo....  amazing to see a composition put together so well, in so little time.

Also, your open attitude and composition tips were appreciated and very well received by our members.

Thanks again, it was a pleasure to have you and your demonstration at our meeting.

Best regards,

Margaret Moon Hames

On Wednesday evening, October 1 from 7-8:30, I'll be giving a talk and printmaking demo at the Melano Center in Melrose, MA. I've been asked to talk about my linoleum prints and the reductive relief technique.

In Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday November 2 from 1-3:30 fifteen member-artists of the Boston Printmakers (including me) will be giving talks and sharing their prepared special food recipes at the Newport Art Museum.  The Boston Printmakers members show, PALETE TO PLATE will be on view through January 4, 2015.  For more info concerning this BP exhibit as well as how to purchase the related exhibition book and recipes go to:

On a final note, The Concord Art Association, with sponsorship from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, selected my plein air painting, Egg Rock, for use in CAA 's 2015 calendar. Selected images were juried and had to depict the town of Concord with the theme of "Light and Space".

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Annual Print Show in Newburyport

Eleven years ago I formed a printmakers' group and every year since, there has been an annual print show, "Making an Impression".  The exhibit showcases many different talents of and techniques used by local printmakers while promoting the art of prints to the general art viewing public.

And so another show gets under way next week at the Newburyport Art Association on Water Street coordinated by this year's Chairperson, Kate Higley, a New Hampshire printmaker.

Please join us as we celebrate our creative endeavors with a reception and public viewing.

Here are two new linoleum prints I have created for the show: "Up and Over" and "Keep a Look Out".

Recently, I viewed the beautiful J M W Turner and the Sea exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.  The inventive renderings of the raging emotional personalities of the sea by so many accomplished painters gave me pause to reflect on how I went about rendering the agitated sea  in these two prints.

Here's my Turner favorite.
Just before exiting, in the last room,  John Singer Sargent depicts the raging Atlantic Ocean in this painting:
If you could only inquire of my painting friends if any of these images accurately reflects one ominous ferry ride to Monhegan Island. With our feet high up on the metal  railings watching with trepidation the whale like blow hole waters explosively entering through the boat's scuppers while we tried to weld our butts to anything that didn't slide, we pitched to and fro among the ocean's crests and troughs. We were quite relieved to have this ferry ride end and safely deposited on the wharf of Monhegan Island..  The sea can be so exhilarating!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Building Bridges with Art

This past week I taught printmaking to a group of Lowell  kids, ages 9-14 in a summer program called, "Art with Artists".  This children's art program was funded by a Parker Foundation grant written by my good painter friend, Meredith Fife Day, the program's coordinator.

For a creative theme, I presented lessons which looked critically at bridge design and construction. The students enjoyed creating bridges using a variety of printmaking techniques: roller printing, white line relief prints, & monoprints.

The kids looked at and talked about artwork created by the likes of Andy Warhol and his silk screened print, Brooklyn Bridge, Katsushika Hokusai's View of Mount Fuji Under a Bridge, The Pont du Gard Roman Aquaduct Over the Gard River, Avignon, France and Landscape with Bridge by Paul Schamberg.  I presented my plein air oil paintings of bridges as well.  

While sorting my own painting to prepare for class, I was surprised just how many bridge paintings were in my inventory.  I have always been attracted to the water's edge and boats of all kinds and so there should be no surprise to see a bridge crossing over streams, rivers and marshy areas where I have set up my easel.

Stone, wood or steel, each bridge is an engineering amazement: some are linear in design, others solid shape construction.  I must confess, I have never been attracted to Jersey Barrier bridges. Ugly! What a bane to the aesthetics of bridge design.  

The photos to the left are "Art with Artists" participants enjoying their 'printmaking' days.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mt. Adoptmore

On this year's fourth of July, Hurricane Arthur did not dampen the start of Chelmsford's 47th Annual Independence Day Parade. Good news for the Lowell Humane Society's (LHS) float participants.

A while back a call for artist volunteers came through  my Western Avenue Studios Yahoo mail from Crystal Arnott, Director and children volunteer coordinator at LHS.  The kids were looking for artists who were willing to volunteer their time to construct large heads of a cat, dog, bird and rabbit for this year's float entry in a local parade.

Their float theme of "Mt. Adoptmore" was indeed clever and a creative choice. The cat, dog, rabbit and birds represented the animals offered for adoption at the shelter. These animals would replace the presidential heads of Mt. Rushmore.  Clever!

Of course I was interested but I was up to my eyeballs in work and commitments like so many of us.  So I waited two weeks and inquired of Crystal how things were going and hoped she had enough volunteers.  Sadly no one came forward. My heart tightened. I reasoned with myself... her call was two months in advance of the parade... no rush. They didn't want the heads yesterday (like most calls for volunteer work), so I gladly answered their request. I had a blast making these heads.

I used cardboard boxes from a local package store as well as an empty studio rag box. I formed the heads by using a few origami techniques such as scoring, folding, reversing folds with the additions of smaller sized boxes, foamcore and duck tape.  These materials would serve as a strong foundation when I cover the surfaces with multiple layers of gooey paper mache.

The heads took a couple of on and off work weeks. They look terrific for not having any set plans to form the heads from cardboard boxes.  I put a final coat of Kilz paint to seal the paper mache just in case of rain which could turn the masterpieces into a heap of floury mush.

I delivered the heads to the shelter and the kids were delighted with the results.  They quickly began work, dipping brushes into donated acrylic paints and turning the plain heads into colorful strokes and patterns. 

I couldn't stay long to watch the gals finish painting and sadly I couldn't watch the parade either but I'm sure everyone had a good time.

Here's my studio version of Mt. Adoptmore placed on the bed of my press before handing them over to Lowell Humane Society.    

Take a look at these faces and find a place in your heart for a sheltered animal.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Out in the Open

Sophie and Julie, Newburyport High School art students, painting at Maudsley State Park
 "Out in the Open", held on Thursday, May 29, 2014, was a wonderful opportunity for the Newburyport Ten (N-10) plein air painters to share their painters' skills and love of painting outdoors with the art students of Newburyport High School.

The program began with a 40 minute power point presentation at the Newburyport Art Association. I gave the historical overview of the art of plein painting and Susan Spellman explained the steps to painting a landscape out of doors. Then everyone hopped on a school bus to Maudsley State Park and were teamed up with members of the N-10 for a day of painting.  Participating N-10 members were: Cynthia Cooper, Dan Shaw, Margery Jennings, Janet Macleod, Joan Rademacher, Marjet Lesk, Susan Luca, Susan Spellman and myself. A beautiful day of painting Nature surrounded by Nature was enjoyed by all in attendance.