Susan, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Not really, I didn’t know being an artist was even an option when I left school. Throughout my childhood I was always creative, I would spend hours painting, crayoning, drawing or cutting and pasting images from catalogues onto the back of cereal boxes (I was creating decoupage without knowing lol).
Coming from a low-income family the priority was to get a job and pay my rent (initially £5 a week) to contribute with food and household costs for the family. When at school teachers didn’t encourage a ‘career’ as an artist I remember being asked if I wanted to be a typist or a cleaner! I’ve done both of those jobs but I always felt something was missing in my life.
You worked mainly 9 to 5 jobs and you were even a singer; how does this influence your work?
Working in an office 9-5 was so boring, I would spend a lot of time doodling on scraps of paper and painting mini abstract paintings with highlighter pens, I was creating my own ’happy place’ creating bright; bold and vibrant mini paintings seem to make the boredom more bearable.
I was in a 70s Disco band called ‘Love Machine’ wearing platform boots and sequinned outfits, the more extravagant the better. Travelling around the UK, I met so many wonderful, interesting people, this really expanded my horizons and made me see life, people and places as things of beauty and interest.
You specialise in abstract and modern paintings, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?
For a short while immediately after leaving school I worked at a dog kennels I used to paint and sell painting of the dogs to their owners; I have also dabbled in portraits/seascapes and landscapes BUT I always come back to abstracts, I love the freedom an abstract brings, I love starting on a journey not knowing where it’s going to take me, until I get the ‘feeling’ the painting is finished.
How would you describe your creative process?
My husband has described me as ‘gung ho’ more often than not I don’t have a ‘plan’ I keep adding colour, shape and texture to the canvas until the moment I get the feeling it’s finished.
I don’t really know how to explain this feeling, it’s like an adrenaline rush, it’s like the feeling of love at first sight when you get butterflies in your tummy. I feel excited, happy and delighted by what’s in front of me and want to share it.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Everywhere – a walk on the beach, a landscape, a piece of clothing, my cat Quando, she’s a tricolour tortoiseshell cat. I created a painting inspired by her colours – mainly black, white and copper which a friend saw and fell in love with.
After seeing a Mary Quant dress I could not stop thinking of the amazing shapes and colours, I had sleepless nights thinking of colour combinations and ideas to create a painting inspired by the dress. You can often find me in my studio at 2 or 3 am putting my ideas on canvas.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Up early to feed and walk my dog Frank after two cups of tea (I’m definitely a tea-a-holic), I live near the sea so we walk along the beach every morning.
I’ll paint for a few hours then go for a swim. Back from the pool its back in the studio with fresh eyes and a refreshed mind. My studio is a log cabin in my back garden so I can pop back and forward into the house as I’m a carer for my husband. In the evening I catch up on admin and social media/computer work.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
I don’t feel my art is influenced by other artists; I love the works of Michelangelo through to Banksy and so many other styles. I have huge admiration for lots of artists both living and deceased, I’m inspired by their passion for creating beautiful art.
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
My radio set to Radio 2, I have a CD player and pop on a Soul, Motown or Disco CD, I’ll often stop painting to have a dance and a sing-a-long using my paintbrush as a mic ?.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
First and foremost paint what inspires you, what you love. Whilst a lot of galleries want an artist to be predictable/stick to one style. I feel whether your painting an abstract, a seascape, a landscape or a portrait if it is done with passion and love it will show in your creation and collectors will want to own it, if its done because you feel it’s what’s expected of you your art can look like it’s come off a production line.
Practice and experiment, try new techniques, new styles and different mediums, create art that warms your soul that you are proud of. Have faith in yourself and your work and promote on social media, everywhere, anywhere – eventually, you will be able to make a living from it, I have been lucky enough to, I am still thrilled and grateful to have my art in homes around the world.
If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be and why?
Barry White Soul Singer his voice was once described as “sounding like melting caramel”, he could sing me a classic or I could get my karaoke machine out and we could perform a duet ?.
Comedian Tommy Cooper he was so witty and silly and just looking at him sets me off giggling.
Emily Pankhurst, I would love to have a real heart to heart with her a good chat about her beliefs, her passions and thank her for fighting for women’s rights.
What does the future look like for you?
Exciting, creating art is like adding the missing jigsaw piece into my life. I have so many ideas I’m eager to get on canvas. I want my work to make people happy and smile, to even get that warm fuzzy feeling.
Creating art is a marathon, not a sprint; I have my whole life to paint, other than good health for my family and friends nothing makes me happier.