Tag Archives: Susan Stuart

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Susan Stuart: In the Details – Large-Scale Painting

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Creating Large-Scale Paintings
By Artist Susan Stuart

GETTING STARTED
My process of working with oil paints begins with stretching a medium textured, unprimed, linen canvas onto a stretcher frame. This canvas is then primed with three coats of a sizing glue. This special glue is applied while hot and brushed onto the surface of the canvas to protect the fibers from the oils in the paint, which (over time) would actually disintegrate the fabric. Once dried, there is a roughness to the surface, which holds the oil paints and soft pastels.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

UNIQUE TECHNIQUE POINTS
The dried sized canvas is as tight  as a drum and will withstand the pressure of applying the oil paint, the pressure of rubbing the soft pastel into the wet paint and the occasional rubbing of pumice into the wet paint, as well. Because the glue is clear and because I love the natural tone of the linen, I will sometimes leave some of the primed surface showing through.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

SKETCHING
Once the canvas has been prepped, I begin to sketch. I either draw freehand directly onto the surface, or I may use a projector to project an image onto the canvas. The image is drawn using a soft pastel. Once an image has been drawn, I block in large areas of color. Following this, using the oil paint and a #2 round easel brush, I do a final contour line drawing on top of the pastel image. This then becomes the “bones” or underlying “structure” of the painting.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

PAINTING
As I’m painting, I place the canvas on a horizontal surface, intentionally positioning the work so that the image is actually upside down. With the canvas positioned this way, I’m less conscious of the actual image, and, therefore, I am free to concentrate solely on the shapes and colors before me. While layering in details with the oils, the soft pastels will be intermixed with the wet paint to create subtle variations in color. Often I paint holding as many as 3 round easel brushes in my hand at one time. These multiple soft bristle brushes create an active surfaces of color and brush work.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

Photo by Rob ONeil

THE SURPRISE
This initial stage of applying the paint is the most exciting for me as I don’t know the effects of the color and brush strokes until I set the painting right side-up in a vertical position on my studio wall. Then, stepping back to look at the work from a distance, I see the image for the first time. I will continue working on the painting in this manner until it requires to be positioned vertically. At that time, the canvas will remain in this traditional vertical position as I finish the work.

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home

In The Details - Susan Stuart - House and Home


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Susan Stuart’s paintings in our current exhibition House and Home (runs through August 19). View her work online at www.susanstuart.com. Contact Susan at susan@susanstuart.com.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by painter Christopher Baker.

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Susan Stuart

It was while doing graduate work at the University at Albany that the size of my studio space influenced my painting.

Susan Stuart Painting Detail

Photography By Rob O’Neil

As a part time student, I was not provided with a studio so I had to use a small room at home. Because I wanted to paint large works, I began sectioning my work, making both diptychs and triptychs.

Susan Stuart Painting Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

I earned my MA from the University in 1976, and, over the years I graduated from the small room at home to a studio in a friend’s basement, and eventually to a space of my own on the 3rd floor of an old factory. It was perfectly situated halfway between my house and the high school where I taught for 33 years. Now, with a ground floor studio in a building adjacent to the old factory building, I’m able to easily create and transport large works.

Susan Stuart Painting Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

I’m retired from teaching, and I‘m fortunate to be able to focus
full-time on my painting, which currently has an emphasis on two different series. One is architectural and the other features dogs. For the Main Street Gallery exhibition, “Structurally Speaking”, I am showing a painting from my architecture series.

Gunner and Painting

Photography By Susan Stuart

My interest in architecture began in the mid 1970’s when my husband and I moved into a 19th century row house in Albany. We began the process of renovating our historic home, and we lived in the house during the renovation. It was at that time that I began to appreciate the aesthetics of new building materials. For example, there were patterns of light and shadow cast on the two by fours, and there was a rhythm created by the shapes of the construction material and the resulting spaces.

Architectural Paintings and Inspiration

Photography By Rob O’Neil

Originally, my architectural paintings were of structures in my environment: lifeguard stands at the beach, supports to the roadway overpasses, as well as the facades of buildings in and around Albany. Following the 2008 recession I began a series inspired by structures I found at abandoned construction sites. The result has been paintings that stress the lines, shapes, spaces and patterns of light that I observed at those sites.

I see my paintings as a way to ”recycle” these deserted sites. Today, I continue to be captivated by the challenge of abstracting and creating architectural paintings from new and abandoned sites alike.

Susan Stuart Painting in Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

The painting process is also an integral part of my work, and the subjective use of color is an important element. To create a rich surface for a painting, I use both wet and dry pigments, which is a direct influence from 19th century French impressionists. The intermixing of pastels, oil paint, and occasionally pumice, allows me to create a contrast in the color’s intensity and value, as well as providing an enhanced surface texture.

Susan Stuart Painting in Studio

Photography By Rob O’Neil

For more information on Susan Stuart’s artwork, visit her website at www.susanstuart.com. Her painting, “Let It Go” won Director’s Choice in our current exhibition, Structurally Speaking. Stop by Main Street Arts to enjoy the show and see Susan’s artwork.

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post by Rochester painter Jean K. Stephens.