Susan Valentine - Fine Artline2015 BLOG

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John HowardJuly 20th

Things are normalizing. After two surgeries for breast cancer I've healed enough to resume my life, not the least of which is painting. It has been three weeks since I've held a brush in my hands and they're starting to itch. Here's my buddy, John Howard in his basement workshop. We make all of my stretcher frames or panels together, so that fact that we're at it again is a very good sign indeed. When these frames are stretched I'll have a total of six canvases upon which to paint... Daisies, I think. I've just fallen in love with them. Maybe it's all the friendship which has been extended my way over the past five months of illness. They are the friendship flower.

There is a show up at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. All of my botanical paintings are there. It was a great big push to get the Daylily Triptych done in time for that but I did make it happen and it was worth it. Go visit! It's coming down in the first week of August. I'm happy that I got daylily season for my show. The gardens there are just spectacular.

May 19, 2015

Wow. This is a lot of work. And a big mess, at this point. It's after midnight and set up for Paradise City Arts Fest starts in less than 48 hours. There is so much work I plan to bring with me and so much organizing to do. I'm going home now, making the first thing on my list of things to do tomorrow "Who, What and When". There are so many loving and talented people on my team who have offered their time and efforts to make sure that this show comes off as best it can. That should help me rest easy, right? I'm used to doing, though, not managing. It's a steep learning curve.

You know who you are: Sue Mollholland, Chris Nelson, Lori Lynn Hoffer, Mari Rovang, Frankie Dack, June & Susie (some of the best of my family), Dale and Guilleremo, Kathi DeZenzo, Thank You. You carry me. I hope I'm not too difficult to put up with in the days to come. Truly? I think this is going to be an awesome show at Paradise City, Northampton.

Cinco De Mayo, 2015

Daylily 2 Triptych

My friend, (and talented artist) Kate Troast was around LC&A this afternoon while I was finishing up on the first layer of this painting, so I asked her to capture the moment. You may recognize this image as one I painted a few years ago. I wanted to see how it would be to paint it, not only now, but this big. I think it acutally looks a bit smaller than it is at 9'wide and 6' high.

I'd like to get this done for Paradise City but that's a lot of work in little time. I don't know if it's do-able. Maybe I need to stop writing about it and jut get down to it! But before I go I do want to say that I reeeally need this for the exhibit at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. Given its size, I need to finish it before my second surgery on June 5th because I believe I won't have much use of my right arm for a few weeks. This painting requires a lot of big, strong arm movements!

This is nearing completion. Another session will do it. I love this image. It feels right for my mood these days... Sad, true, beautiful. Peony Drenched 2, 48x36, oil on canvas.

pink hydrangea
This little guy is coming along nicely. Another week or two and it'll be done. The dimensionality of the floweretts is beginning to tell the proper story. I have gotten a couple of really good days' work in on it. The past months have been frought with worry and fear, doctors' appointments and trips back and forth to Boston for treatment. Next week I'll be on a much needed vacation for 9 days, so maybe this gets finished mid May. It is 30x24, oil on linen. Yes. Linen. That's a new thing for me and I love the feel of it!


studio set up with four paintings in processI've gotten lots of painting in since my last post. These are all really exciting paintings for me AND I can't wait to get started on a new series of Holy Trinity paintings as well. Things are slowing down a bit. I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. More info here: I'm feeling frightened, optimistic and very, very busy. Many loved ones are gathering and I feel love and support in spades. I'm trying to get back to painting.


I do believe that Holy Trinity (now finished) saved my spirit. It taught me to lighten up and control my thoughts, notice the difficulties but focus on the positive. And, as a yoga practitioner and teacher, I notice how much lighter my whole being feels with this change of heart/mind.

paintings in processIn Leverett we have a sweet little community-building library, which is having a month of focus on art. We're reading The Forger by B.A. Shapiro (how fun is that?!) and we're having Forgery Day. It was suggested by several painters, here at Leverett Crafts & Arts, that we all do a forgery. Well, I dunno about that but I'm definitely into the adventure of copying one of my all-time favorite J.S.Sargent paintings, Fumée d'Ambergris. What a great adventure! Now that I'm well into finishing the first layer I'm learning so much about painting! My friend, Chris Nelson, just pointed me to an essay about the painting and it states that Fumée d'Ambergris (which resides at the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA) was hailed, in its day, for its painterly quality. This—oh, yeah—this is what I'm dying to learn.

When considering this project I thought it would be self indulgent to work on something that I really wanted to do instead of producing paintings that I know will be popular. Now I see that as a growing artist, this is an essential piece for me. That said, there are four new pieces in the works; two florals (which you may be able to see faint outlines for in the photo above), this copy and a sunset seascape.


Holy Trinity


Yes, this is what I needed to help me lighten up in at a time I found it difficult. This is my holy trinity. These are my super-heroes. They reside (in real life) on the windowsill of the Hadley Yoga Studio, each with its history, each with its secrets and blessings and each with its ability to bring a smile to my face. The only thing I've ever done like it is Henson, a commission for my sister June a few years ago. The main character is her whimsical lawn ornament—whom, I'm sure, reminded her of Big Bird. It, too, brought smiles and joy to my life (as does June and her family). You can see that painting in the still life gallery.

This is a far cry from the landscapes and florals that I'm "supposed to be painting" to fill exhibits I've got booked. That could be problematic. Ah well. I've got worse problems than painting what moves me. My favorite problem right now is that the troll's face is way too much like a human face, with which I have great difficulty!

Anyway... This is how things look after five days of painting. I think I'll finish it up next week. It's on a 24x24" canvas. If you're driving by my studio this weekend you can see it in the window, lit up until 10pm!


Well, now it's 2015 and, to be truthful, it's been a difficult year so far. I'm trying to come to terms that things aren't supposed to be easy, that it's just a blessing when they are. At solstice time my studio was broken into and my computer stolen. Now, you wouldn't think that as a painter that would be such a difficult hurdle but, well, it is. Enough said.

On the lighter side, I have now completed two paintings this year. One, The Sawmill River, which was started about this time last year and abandoned for something that grabbed me firmer than it. The other, Taillight Barns in Hadley, something I've been meaning to get to for a while now. See them on the Gallery page.

Good news? Sure! I just heard that I'm to be featured in Paradise City Magazine in the "Show Stoppers" section. That can't be bad, right? Look for me at Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton on Memorial Day Weekend. I asked Trish Crapo to come and do a portrait of me for this event. She, of course, did a great job, but when I look at it all I can see is the stress of this past few weeks on my face. Time to lighten up, Susie!

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