We conducted this season’s resident interviews digitally to coordinate with staff scheduling. Please find Susan’s thoughtful responses to our questions below.
You can learn more about Susan’s work and follow along here

Tell us about yourself and your practice.


I am a recently retired teacher, working in the Early Childhood Education field. I was able to work as an artist along with my Teaching/Administration job. I have been enjoying my new Full Time Artist occupation and am keeping myself quite busy in the art community in Richmond. I have my studio in my basement at home, which is wonderful upgrade to my other studio, which was in our basement storage room! I work mostly inside the studio, but do enjoy painting “en plein air”, especially when traveling. I also like to draw outside, taking notes for larger works.

Can you talk about your background and how that has shaped your creative practice?


I have been painting all my life . My mother was an artist, and my best friend in the neighborhood where I grew up, his mother was an artist. I remember drawing and painting with both of these women around the dining tables in both houses when I was very young. I got some nice tips at a very young age. Ever since I graduated college with an undergratuate degree in Fine Arts, I maintained an art practice, dabbling and learning various disciplines. I began seriously painting and showing about 25 years ago in Richmond,Virginia and surrounding counties and cities.

What is it about your process that motivates you to keep coming back?


I am motivated by the work. The conversation that I am having with each painting keeps me going. Sometimes I have to just stop while working on a painting and let it sit around the studio, allowing it to show me what it needs. While that painting is sitting, others are being worked on. “Having a session” is what I like to call it!

What do you want people to take away from your work?


I want the paintings to make people feel peaceful. I want them to be intriqued with the mark making, painting, and drawing found in the work. As a metaphor for life, there is a lot going on; a lot of energy surrounds us, but it all works together and creates balance and peace.


Can you talk about what you’ve been working on during your time at Azule?


I began doing some paintings of the views and sites around Azule. I then went exploring and ended up painting on the French Broad River, in Spring Creek, and did some drawings and sketches on hikes and pulled over on the side of the road, just in awe of the beautiful fall leaves. These sketches helped shape some more paintings made in the studio. Many of the paintings have old barns,and sheds in them representing the Appalachan history. Many of the old barns are still in use, mended but still working for the Appalaichan people. Those old buildings are, and were, necessary for survival. In the evenings, I worked with printmaking, exploring techniques I have been wanting to try and playing with color combinations. I was inspired by some works I saw on a day trip into Asheville, and I began working with flora around Azule and incorporating them into monoprints.

Why is a residency important to you?


This residency was important for me to get away and work on nothing but art. To focus on art for an extended length of time was a first for me, and it was very successful. I learned about my practice and how to get wheels turning in my head.

What advice would you give a creative who is just starting in their practice?

Keep true to yourself and your work, and keep going even when you think you are bad. And if you don’t know what to create, just draw.

Images from Susan’s time in residence.


Courtesy of the artist.