This Louisana-bred, West-coast-trained, and Redding-nurtured artist used her university degree in applied art as a basis for subsequent study with outstanding master artists. She was a scholarship student of the acclaimed Sergei Bongart, of Los Angeles.
Greaves’ widely collected oil paintings have been shown in galleries and competitions nationwide. Professional recognition includes invitational membership in Knickerbocker Artists, Alla Prima International, the Society of Master Impressionists, Oil Painters of America and other groups. More than 50 awards have come her way.
In 1996, Greaves established the Good (Art) Works Effort. She donates her proceeds from sales of her work to non-profits and charities, many of them local.
What do you remember about the earliest art you created?
Oh, how I wanted a box of 64 crayons! My mother didn’t believe in giving her children everything they wanted. I didn’t get a pony. I got a watch for my 12th Christmas and, when I was in high school, I never had a mouton coat. (Now, I’m sure that last one has really dated me.)
Just eight or 16 colors was too restrictive in my mind, when I saw so many more vivid ones around me. My desire for all those colors was a precursor of my focus on color throughout my now 40-plus year painting career.
How would you describe your art?
As a tribute to the joys of life. Though I paint many subjects — from landscapes, florals, figures and portraits, to equine works — the actual subject is only an excuse to use color to express the feeling I have as I stand before a subject. I chose oil paint as my primary medium many years ago because of the rich colors and wide range of possible effects.
Where do you gather most of the influences for your work?
The strongest influences, I’m sure, came from my two master teachers, William F. Reese and Sergei Bongart. The work of both echoed that of the Russian Impressionsts. Those Russians retained the academic excellence of drawing and composition, while exploring the effects of light and color. We also have a bounty of very good contemporary artists who work directly from the subject, outdoors or from a still life or from a live model, and contact with them adds breadth to my own work.
Of all your artwork, is there a piece that holds more significance, or about which you are most proud?
I’ve hit a few winners over the years, I think. I have recently adopted a slightly different approach and am especially pleased when I produce a new jewel. This happens just a few times a year, normally, but they come more frequently now. Sometimes, because I’ve used my subconscious more and reached a higher level of concentration, I can hardly remember painting the more outstanding works.
Name a few of your favorite artists, past or present, and why.
As I mentioned, the Russian Impressionists, like Fechin and Maliavin, because of their use of color and drafting skill. Then, there are Sorolla, Zorn, and Serov, who were astounding portraitists, along with the incomparable John Singer Sargent.
Is there a misconception, or something that you dislike being asked, as an artist?
I listen to everybody. Everyone has an educated eye and knows when something does not look right in a painting. William Reese told of a time that he noticed a 12-year-old equestrian who was looking critically at a sculpture of his of a jumping horse and rider. After demonstrating how easily he could change the clay piece, he asked what was bothering her. “The rider should be looking at the next jump,” she said; and she was right.
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
I had one just recently. Up and out early (not so usual for me now). Meet fellow artists. Drive to the morning painting spot. Apply lots of color. Lunch and “art chat” at noon. Then, find an even more inspiring painting spot and paint our hearts out the rest of the afternoon. Ahhhh! (See pictures we posted on Facebook on the “Plein Air Redding” page. Most are O Street Gallery artists.)
Susan Greaves’ website: www.susanfgreaves.com
A note from Shelly Shively, curator, O Street Gallery: Welcome to the first column of the series, “O Artist”. As curator of O Street Gallery, I am proud and delighted to periodically feature an artist whose work is on exhibit at O Street Gallery. The current 13-artist exhibit runs from April 13 to July 13. The artists are Kathleen Lawrence-Davis, Chuck Prudhomme, Kathleen Evans, Susan Greaves, Louise Tuthill, Roberta A. Stone, Lynda Nolte, Connie Brown, Eve Berg-Pugh, Denise Granger Kerbs, Bev Corford, Neil Babcock and Connie Murray. The same questions will be presented to all the artists, to offer a glimpse of their passion that is creating art. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by these working artists, and be intrigued enough to experience their art in person at O Street Gallery.
O Street Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. O Street Gallery is located upstairs in the Oregon Street Antique Mall, 1261 Oregon St., Redding, Calif. 96001. For more information, contact Shelly Shively at email@example.com
Shelly Shively lives in Redding. She is Interior re-design network certified. Among her specialties are real estate staging, furnishing vacation and new homes, and the art of interior “re-design” – where she transforms and refreshes clients’ living spaces using their existing belongings. Shelly is also a freelance artist, illustrator, muralist and a Whiskeytown kayak volunteer. To inquire about a consultation, she may be reached at 530-276-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org