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In the Studio with Susan Washington

  • what's currently inspiring you?

    I try to keep focused and build on previous work but I also have days when I experiment and then try to incorporate what I’ve learned into pieces I am currently working on. I regularly visit galleries and museums to get a sense of how other artist have approached their chosen medium and that helps me to push the boundaries of my knowledge. Currently I am experimenting with very loose and painterly pieces which appropriate the compositions of my collage series “Threads”.

  • Can you tell us about your process?

    I clean the studio up from the last piece (which takes a while) and I light a candle. I have three series I like to work on. I need to go back and forth, it keeps my ideas new and I like working with different mediums. Each painting I do within a series helps me bring something new to the next work. They are all interconnected but the way I approach each is different. I don’t usually do sketches. I like to be more physical with my deconstructed series and I actually have big pattern pieces that I will use and move around a canvas or the floor to come up with a jumping point, a scaffold to start from. From there I use photoshop to go back and forth with other works of mine that I superimpose on the patterns. It sort of gives me a composition within a composition that makes it even stronger. I then translate that into mark-making on canvas. My new robotic series was born from my “Deconstructed” and “Threads” series of mixed media work. I save photographs of the first phase of that series that consists of just the dress patterns and I use thick paint to transfer those shapes very quickly to the canvas. From that point there is a back and forth of surface and line and layers of paint and texture, folding it in. My “Threads” series is more intuitive. After priming and getting the canvas ready I use thick charcoal and sketch on the canvas. There are no alterations or amendments to the line work and it all evolves into the finished composition. When I am happy with the overall composition I affix the surface and add painted textile to add texture and color.

  • What would you like us to know about your work?

    That it’s a process. Some think abstract paintings come to life overnight, that they just happen from the sub-conscious. Some artists do work that way. My works require preparation and planning so that the sub-conscious mark-making has something to hang on to. There are reasons for every mark, every color. Everything that is part of that painting is for a reason.

  • How does color influence your work?

    I like to do monochromatic works to start, especially with Deconstructed and Threads. I feel that if my abstract painting can be strong without relying on color to carry it, it will only be enhanced if I do add color, it’s not a necessity though. I use color as points of focus and drama on a largely monochrome piece

  • Do you work in one session or multiple

    multiple

  • Do you work with music?

    Yes, music gets me in the flow.

  • If you could meet one artist (alive or deceased) who would you like to meet?

    This always changes…right now I’d have to say Cy Twombly. His work moves me to tears. When I walked into see his exhibit Fifty Days at Iliam I lost my breath and my heart started to pound. I did not want to see anything else in the museum and sat in that room for the next four hours. It's like the paintings are talking, you can hear them, they have their own place in the universe and are larger than life. I would love to be able to meet the man who was able to do that.

  • What is your greatest extravagance?

    Right now… handmade Japanese paper and a pair of Gucci shoes I’ve had my eye on for some time!

  • What's next for you?

    I am working towards a solo show at the LaChaise gallery in March. It’s a great space and I plan to exhibit only a select few but really strong and large works. Other than that I look forward to continue to push my own boundaries and explore. I have an "art bucket list" and there are all kinds of things on there that I want to do, big and small and I continue to work on this as I move my work forward.