Thursday, June 14, 2012

DPW Spotlight Interview: Sue Deutscher

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. 

To enter to win Sue Deutscher's painting, Whippet and His Dog, go to and click on the Spotlight Giveaway button in the top-left corner of the website.

From Sue Deutscher's DPW Gallery page:
I find beauty and inspiration in the relationship between the pet and their owner. I've painted portraits of pets who have passed on and they are the most meaningful to the owner--and to me, as the artist. The portraits of pets who are still with us will be a permanent keepsake of the love that is shared. My paintings are like my children who, when set free, go on to live their own lives, and hopefully in homes where they are loved. 
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

When I was 27, I was walking past a hardware store that had a sign that said if painting supplies were bought there, they would include a free painting class, which was about to begin. I had the afternoon free, so I did just that and found my passion that day. The smell of the oil paint and holding the brush in my hand all felt very natural, as if I had done it all my life. That was 30 years ago, and it is still as exciting to me today as it was then.

(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking the "Artist Spotlight and Giveaway" button!

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

A few years ago, I felt like I had reached a level where I just wasn't getting any better. I felt frustrated with painting, and was drawn to photography. I learned much about light and when, after a couple of years, I painted again, I found that a lot of what I had learned in photography applied to painting. I learned how much colors affect each other and how important it is to have one color "pop." I also learned more about composition. It was great!

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I have tried acrylic and worked quite a bit with pastels, but my favorite is oil. They all have their good evil twin sides, but for me, mixing oil colors is magical; the way blue and yellow combines to make green or the way adding green to red decreases saturation, without losing value. Though I don't like the mess and having to clean brushes, etc., mixing colors is a thrill.

Warming Up
(click here to see original image)

I don't feel drawn to exploring anything else right now, but you never know. I trust my instinct and if I'm drawn to something else, as when I was drawn to photography, then that is what I will do.

The lush darks and crisp lights of many of your paintings are reminiscent of the old, classical masters. Can you tell us more about how you developed your personal style?

What a wonderful compliment! Thank you! I love the mystery of chiaroscuro and for that, Rembrandt is my favorite. There are many on Daily Paintworks who could give Rembrandt a good run! I don't like too many colors on my palette, and prefer a tonalistic theme, so that it is harmonious throughout. I like to go with just the primaries and mix tertiaries. So my personal style would probably be called "keeping it simple."

I appreciate the phrase, "less is more," letting the viewer be more of a participant, rather than a spectator. I developed my style by studying other paintings and trying to emulate the realism, light and subjects that I like.

Border Collie
(click here to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Procrastination looks like boredom to me. If I am avoiding painting, it must be because what I am working on is boring me. I should either finish it or call it a lost cause and move on to something else.

When I get lost in the painting and lose track of time, stop hearing anything around me, ignore any hunger pains and forget that I put a pot of coffee on, there is no procrastinating or having to "make time" for art. It is an obsession.

Heifer Class
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I'm always looking at light, especially early in the morning or late in the evening when everything has that golden glow. I like to grab my camera and get that low angle sun falling on a sleeping cat or illuminating just the tip of a bowl of apples. Sometimes it seems like the subject is just an excuse to paint the light, and it doesn't even matter what the subject is. What is most exciting is dramatic shadows and highlights, but still being subtle about it.

How do you keep art "fresh"? What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

I try to paint a balance of what I think will sell and what I like to paint. Sometimes I give more one way than the other, and when I've been painting what I think will sell, I go the other way and just paint what I like.

I love painting animals, but I also like still lifes. When painting another dog or horse doesn't get me excited to paint, then I go for a still life, just for me. I may never list it or show it, but it's like a day off just to play.

Ground Hog's Day
(click here to see original image)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

I imagine someone with a big, new home, walls blank, and how they want real art to look at and love every day, something that is meaningful and moves them emotionally. I offer prints, but I once heard that owning original art is like having a real apple pie, rather than a picture of a pie. Original art is rich and vibrant, and with the internet today and self-representing artists, people can afford the original instead of a "picture of the original." When the artist and art lover make that connection, it is completing the circle. What I am learning right now is how to complete that circle, which, to me, is what makes a piece "finished."

I would also love to paint an apple that looks like an apple rather than a tomato, which is what is on my easel right now. Needs more green, I think.

What makes you happiest about your art?

My art makes me happy when it goes to someone who really, really loves it. I would rather take less for a painting and have it go to someone who is thrilled to have it than not. It seems for every painting, there is someone who will love it, and my job is to find that person. You're out there, somewhere.

Reta, Saluki from Hawks View Hounds
(click here to see original image)

A painting is exciting for me when it tells a little story, or when the light is falling just right to make a delicate flower petal come out of a shadow, or it shows the calm expression of a sleeping dog next to a pair of hiking boots. When the viewer feels that same excitement, it makes a connection and I am happiest about that. I can feel when a painting "clicks" and having a complete stranger take a chance based on a jpg on their computer screen and order the painting, it's always a thrill.

Thanks, Sue!

©Jennifer Newcomb Marine

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