Issue 9: Susan Bailey
About The Artist
I started drawing at a young age and continued drawing and working with water colors through high school. My mother taught Fine Arts and painted often herself, and she taught me about great works of art from books and visits to art museums. Even while pursuing a career in software engineering, I was always drawn back to my interest in art. I managed to sneak in a life drawing class in between science classes at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduate school I returned to my home state of Massachusetts where I enrolled in local painting courses and set up a studio at home, experimenting with various media.
In 2000 I began taking oil painting classes from Newburyport painter and gallery owner, Enrico Donati. I joined the Newburyport Art Association where several of my paintings were selected for juried shows. In 2003 I enrolled in an oil painting class at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, painting the figure from live models. The teacher was Evelina Brozgul, an accomplished Boston-area teacher and painter.
Soon thereafter I began weekly lessons with Evelina in her studio, progressing from rigorous pencil drawing exercises, copying the old masters such as DaVinci and Caravaggio, to intensive training in oil painting and the use of glazes. Working from studio still life setups in these classes inspired me to branch out on my own, eventually producing a collection of still lifes in my own style infused with bright colors and patterned fabrics.
In 2007 two galleries accepted my work and continue to exhibit it. More galleries have followed. In 2010 I expanded into a new genre and style: abstracted landscapes. Although very different from the realist still lifes, these paintings continue to reflect my obsession with bright colors, expressed in a more abstract style. The concept of horizontal stripes in those paintings grew out of gazing at the ocean while sailing.
Next I became fascinated with darkness lit only by small areas of intense light. This led to a collection of interior figurative paintings set in dark bars, where I concentrate on bringing out the brightly colored lights that just might expose secrets hiding in the shadows.
I am excited by the prospect of pursuing all of these diverse paths into the future.
Visit Susan at www.susanbaileyart.com.
It may seem strange for both realistic still lifes and abstract landscapes to emerge from the head and brush of the same artist. But all art grows and develops. Although I started my art career with rigorous training from still life subjects, I soon branched out to my own still life style infused with highly saturated colors. It seemed natural to then apply brilliant color to the abstract shapes I found in landscapes. Soon my skies and oceans were striped, and my houses built of triangles and rectangles of color.
I think of a still life painting as an intimate, approachable abstraction. It is both a close-up view of recognizable objects and a playing field for abstract concepts of form, texture, color, and space. Although my method is influenced by my training in academic realism and exposure to the great Flemish masters, I concentrate on incorporating bright color, rich fabrics, contrasting textures, reflections, and the melding of background and foreground.
My landscape method is based on an assemblage of colored stripes, rectangles, or abstract shapes. Representation of the softness of evening light on the water or the sinking sun lighting up the sky demand a careful juxtaposition of color and value to communicate the feeling of that time and place and light. The striped technique also allows me to communicate distance and even motion: ocean waves or filmy clouds spread out against the sky. The influences of both the Fauves and the Canadian Group of Seven may be felt in these paintings.
Along the way I also developed a fascination with dark interiors lit by small areas of intensely colored light, such as that found in a dark bar. I use the light falling on the figures in these paintings to bring out the colors and forms and to infuse them with a Hopper-like, mysterious, and sometimes lonely feeling.
Lyman-Eyer Gallery, Provincetown, MA http://www.lymaneyerart.com/ItemDisplay.aspx?artistid=41
J. Todd Galleries, Wellesley, MA http://www.jtodd.com/products.asp?cat=180&hierarchy=0114
Art 3 Gallery, Manchester, NH
Tappan Z Gallery, Tarrytown, NY
2013: Finalist, Artist’s Magazine Annual Art Competition, 2013: Inclusion in Artist’s Magazine 2014 calendar