Susan Valentine - Fine Artline 2016 BLOG

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December 15th
The following is my statement for January/February show at Hope & Feathers gallery in Amherst.

(More or Less)

Late this past summer I acquired a kayak.

Leverett Pond is a tiny walk from my studio at Leverett Crafts & Arts. On the pond I was inspired to slow down. I spent many a day on the water’s surface, tooling around and being nurtured by the views, the creatures, the plant life.

These tablets arose from those experiences. I used my phone for reference photos… Inspiration for the format of these paintings. I liked the way this vertical view led me from the plant life below my boat all the way to the sky. Some of these paintings are collaged interpretations and others are representative of what I really saw.

Since November 8th I have been in a state of confusion/depression. I’ve been transported to the promise of a nation I don’t recognize, force fed by a faction which voted, in desperation, humanity’s dark side. I found myself locked in a downward spiral; feeling helpless and useless. Feeling less than my usual self and far less than contented.

Nevertheless, I step up to the canvas again and again. Persistence pays off. November was a tough month. By December, though, I found that my heart had lifted a touch… And once again I began to be nurtured by the act of painting pictures. There is power in making one’s own happiness and I began to feel more positive, more awake and more myself.

I hope that something of the ease I find in this process is transmitted to the viewer. And out of that respite, activists may return to the job at hand more effectively, renewed by having spent some time with my first summer on the pond.

Elusie Gallery Exhibit announcement

Just Painting.

Autumnal Equinox

large painting in the studio

I'm rounding the bend toward the finish line on this triptych. I began it in May. It brings me much joy to focus on the various needs of different places and elements of this big one at this stage. When do I need to pan back from those crisp lines and soften lines and details? Where are those very important places which are supporting, holding up other places, pushing them forward?

I've discovered the joy of working to classical piano due to a recent interest in David Helfgott. Very dynamic, lovely stuff. It changes my mental attude and my physical posture for the better, though I totally enjoyed working most of this painting to the music of Hamilton! Wouldn't that be funny if viewers noticed something in the painting caused by this shift in score!

This one's being finished to hang at the Elusie Gallery in Easthampton in a couple of weeks. It's nice to have deadlines.

August 15th

I've had some vacation time. Larry and I took a week in Provincetown a couple of weeks ago. It's just so refreshing in so many ways to get to the ocean. Larry brought his guitar and I packed my watercolors. What I know about watercolor could fit on a matchbox. It was fun to mess with them, though.

There's a show up at Gallery 529 Café in Littleton, MA who's current exhibit is By The Sea. I started doing some ocen paintings with that in mind. I'm struggling with this one now:


Not only is it trickier than all get out to find the appropriate levels (hue, saturation and value) but it's impossible to accuratly photograph the day's work because of the subtleties of those shifts. A day at a time. We've got a painters' critique tomorrow evening. Maybe that will help.

Much easier has been this one:


...Which I may finish tomorrow. (It has been a fantastic summer for cloud watching.) It's been a long time since I've done a landscape. I really enjoy them. The balance between sky colors and land colors, sky shapes and values and those of the land.

Now What?

sidewalk view of storefront

July 8, 2016

Now I just PAINT!

As director of the Barnes Gallery, here at LC&A I just finished pulling together my first—and last—group show: CAMERA MATERNA. Come see it! It's work from a collection of photographers who also happen to be mothers. It proved to be challenging on many levels. It also proved to be well worth the effort.

I have decided to step down as gallery director to focus more deeply on my own work. The next three exhibits will be residents' shows, so I'll be needed less than for outside artists. This is a very welcome situation. I feel that I've put in my time to assist other artists over the last two years. That'll do me for a bit. Next year will be someone else's shift.

Lately, I not only find time to paint but space in my studio. The largest of my triptychs is gone from my work table, where it rested for a month between showings. It, along with my most recent works are gone to The Greenfield Gallery for the next six weeks. Kate Hunter sent me this great picture of what Daylily Trip looks like in their window.

Work on the current hydrangea triptych may just finish up by this month's end. It's already come a long way since the photo below.

First Layer Complete.

June 10th, 2016

Yesterday got me to the next phase on this hydrangea triptych. First layer complete, I can now go in and fine-tune things. I moved clockwise(ish) around this first layer, working my way around to the lower left. I notice that impatience was the main ingredient of the first couple of weeks. When I got to the last half (bottom half) I began to relax into finding truer values.

Large close-up hydrangea painting.

I am happy to report that my open studio and gallery exhibit paid off in sales (never a bad thing). Seven paintings found their way to new homes... One still in the works! A big "Thank You!" to all who have played a part by spreading the word, visiting and/or purchasing works.


May 17th, 2016

The Barnes Gallery is conveniently located right outside my studio door. Taking pride in its appearance and wanting to leave things better than I found them, my team and I painted the walls a beautiful and brilliant white. My exhibit got hung as soon as they were dry. I am proud to present this body of work to the public. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday with a closing reception on May 29th @5. Please join us! Several of the Wee Daisy series have sold, so I decided to replace them with new ones. There are three which made it onto the wall yesterday and will be mostly dry by the time the gallery opens again this afternoon.

After just about a week of recuperation I began work on my 4th large triptych. It's 5' high and 9'wide. Here's where it stands as of this writing.

April 28th, 2016

This article (pdf) in the Recorder will be so, so helpful in getting the word out about my upcoming exhibit and open studio. Come on May 7th and celebrate two years' worth of painting! If you can't make it, I'll be here all of May welcoming art lovers Thursday through Sunday, 1-6pm.

Well into these two...

April 12, 2016

We're well into the gallery season here at LC&A. The job of gallery director takes it's toll in time and attention. The progress on these two paintings has slowed. They often feel like dessert after taking care of "business". The up side, of course, is that I get to see with fresh eyes more often. I can get lost in a painting, sometimes taking it to places that don't benefit it (or myself). Being interrupted means that I get more opportunities to come to it fresh.

I have a goal of finishing these both in the next two weeks so that they can show in my Annual Open Studio & Gallery Exhibit happening for the month of May. Of course if that doesn't happen then they get to stay just where they are and folks will get to see them at whatever state they're in. It's all shot

Still With the Still Lifes...

St. Patty's Day, 2016


Here's the first layer complete of That Day at the Lady K. I have long been a fan of Indian Yellow and I am in no way discarding it... But having a studio guest is a blessing in more than a few ways. Macaylla Silver paints with me (invaluable) as well as builds things, brings home grown eggs, buys nice wine and helps with chores. This week he turned to me after completing his day of painting and asked if I had any use for a ribbon of cadmium yellow. Of course! Being the yankee (read thrifty person) that I am, I never want to see things go to waste. But having it there on my palette was the key to picking it up and using it in this painting. At this point I think it will be the key pigment that brings this image to life. The bananas, at this point, have no cadmium. The sunflower, even in this early stage, pop with it.

See? This is why we share.

I Have Always Wanted...

To do a series of still lifes. This, apparently, is my time. I feel very excited! In this photo is my mentor, Penné Krol's painting of the purple iris. I like having her watch over me. I brought it to the studio to paint the edges and it hasn't made its way home again yet. She's a lovely, quiet and inspiring guest.


The large painting on the easel is probably the last in my Depot Garden's Grapes series. The first two (soon three) can be seen in the Still Life Gallery. They are 11x14"–which let me know that I need more space for this one. Not terribly visible in the 60x22" canvas to the right is the under drawing of a lovely day at the Lady Killegrew café in Montague. Y'all know it, if you live in the area. It shares the building with the Montague Book Mill–you know–"Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find".

detailThis first layer of the farmstand painting has evolved, thus far, as something akin to a grisaille–the process of applying paint and wiping it away to chisel out the image tonally. The difference is that I'm doing it with color and in careful, small areas at a time. This background (right, detail of the large canvas) will be an important support for the foreground and it needs to play its role without drawing too much attention and may not evolve much beyond this quiet level.


Wrapping Up Six Months

Daisies have been the thing since July of 2015. I've been diligent about working on/with them to both stay loose and tighten up in just the right places. I've painted every size from small daisies5x7 inches to 51.5x36 inches with a plan to complete the series with a room sized triptych. The one pictured to the right is 8x6 inches. In the end I've left two fairly large paintings and three wee ones unresolved but have a pretty good collection even with that. It could well be that I'll get back to the little ones but I really think that the two larger ones will be painted over. Best laid plans always take a back seat to 'fessing up to the stuff that just doesn't work and moving on from there. My triptych is fully prepared for what may come its way. I'm open!

During the breast-cancer-medical-mayhem that was 2015 I created a new Web site, thinking that templates are the way to go. (Over compensation?) It's a little confusing, trying to follow my work between the two sites but here's the link to the new one, which has some of the Daisy Series on it:
I like that the photos can expand to a fuller image than the galleries on this site and that you can actually buy paintings from there. Do leave some feedback if you have any thoughts.

farmstand grapesBurn Out... And Rise From the Ashes

A couple of weeks ago I realized that I was no longer looking forward to painting. It took me a few days but I finally got the gist that I was done with daisies and needed to move on. I'd always wanted to delve into a series of still lifes and I'm happy to say that I'm now satisfied, once again getting to the studio and churning out work.

Grapes seems to be the order of the season. You can see the first two finished paintings in the Still Life Gallery. To the left is what I churned out in the past two days. I like that the grapes have found a place and that that place is a local and organic farm stand in Montague, MA. This is a first layer and I'm pretty excited to see where it'll go from here.

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