Susan Greaves’ work is described as “a fine example of strong, painterly style”. Her paintings are noted for their light and color. She uses classical methods of careful observation and direct execution to portray subjects ranging from florals and still lifes to landscapes and figures.
I love the intro to your Artist Bio: “Art combines the best of what is in the mind and in the soul. The mind must be trained and ready when the soul speaks.” Which came first for you?
As a 16-year-old, I could hear my heart singing as I first worked with oil paint and enjoyed its lush color and texture. Fortunately, I soon realized that ignorance was bliss and sought more training, first in college and later with master artist teachers. Artists must be given tools in the form of technical skills before they are equipped and able to respond when a rare insight reveals itself.
I respect your dedication to painting from life and am in awe of the discipline it requires. Have you ever dabbled in abstraction?
Yes, I’ve experimented with abstracts, both in school and more recently, and I was fortunate enough to find buyers for them. What a kick it was to do them. It was almost like painting from my subconscious, setting aside a few of the elements necessary for realism, like drawing and perspective, and just concentrating on color and design.
Do you feel that abstraction can communicate in a way that is as powerful as realism?
I’m so glad that you posed the question the way you did, because the single purpose of art is communication. Abstracts and realism both deal with the same elements – color, texture, repetition, balance, and so on – and both demand similar skills. However, when attempting to communicate a concept, I have found that few viewers interpret an abstract as the artist intended. Viewers need additional information in the form or a written or verbal description, and the more complex the concept, the more difficult it is to relate. To communicate, I want to speak as clearly as possible – and don’t confuse that with simplifying the message – so I use enough realism to express my mood or message and leave “detail” for the viewer to add from his own life experience.
What has been your favorite location to paint?
Anywhere there are other artists, no time limits, and camaraderie at the end of the day. I’ve been fortunate to paint subjects from New Zealand to Italy, from Florida to Hawaii and a lot in between.
What is your dream plein aire location or subject?
Somewhere on a 75-degree day, in the shade, and without wind or bugs. Once I’ve found this, I look for light against dark or dark against light. It’s fairly simple.
What can art lovers expect from your show at the Studio Experience?
California landscapes have dominated my work in the last few years, so most of the paintings in the show are California subjects. Some are more local images like “Sacramento River Shine,” “Winter Light,” “Old Bechelli Stables,” “McCloud Work Yard” and “Evening Fire.” For a change of pace, I included “Morning at Arroyo Hondo,” a stunning canyon near Taos, New Mexico.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution?
Yes. To do less, better! After 10 productive years, I’ve “retired” from eBay, so now I can pour more time and effort into each painting. I paint for the love of it, with the goal of making new discoveries with each work.
Susan’s work will be featured through January at The Studio Experience, 3404 Bechelli Lane, Redding. Meet Susan and see her work at the Studio Experience, Jan. 9, 6 to 9 p.m. for 2nd Saturday ArtHop. To see more of Susan’s work, visit susanfgreaves.com. Learn more about her artistic process on her blog, “Wet Paint.”
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State weekend events to firstname.lastname@example.org.