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