Thursday, July 19, 2018

DPW Spotlight Interview: Susan Bjerke

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Susan's painting "Cruise Sunset" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Susan's DPW Gallery:

I've been an artist since someone gave me crayons in the early years and told me not to write on the walls. I've done mixed media, watercolors, ceramics, mosaic art, sketching and encaustics. It wasn't until I was forced into retirement by the sale of my company where I worked to support my art supply habit that I found Pastels. I began researching pastels by looking at Youtube for artists good at what they do and willing to share how they do it. (click to read more)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I started painting years and years ago... before I could even walk, but truly began in earnest when my company, for whom I was a business analyst, sold themselves to a bigger company. I was casting around to fill my days in my forced retirement, putzing with my art supplies randomly until on December 22, 2017 I bought Carol Marine’s book, Daily Painting. I’ve been painting non-stop ever since. Carol saved me from trying to find another job or doing silly stuff for retirement.

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

Of course I did, I painted for a while when my kids were toddlers; entered shows and had some success, but not enough financially so, I did what a lot of us do, went to work. At least I could support my art supply habit (not to mention feeding children). I’ve kept my hand in at sketching and some painting, but never focused on art as a habit again until last year.

Cruise Sunset
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Susan's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Oh my gosh, what haven’t I played with? Ceramics, encaustics, oil pastels, watercolors, mosaics, printmaking, collage, mixed media, colored pencils, alcohol inks, and jewelry making. I have a love affair with all mediums especially with wild colors.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Right now, Pastel’s are my medium of choice. I love the way they are so immediate and so intimate. At the end of a painting session I feel as though my hands have been through Holi or the Hindu festival of color. The other thing that is cool about pastels is that you can re-do something you find wrong... days, weeks, years later. Nothing like watercolors where if you make a large mistake, it’s best to start over. Lots of these mediums have fallen away because of the need for studio space which is limited for me.

Off Ramp
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I’ve just purchased oils, canvases and brushes and they are sitting in my space staring at me... Daring me to start. I am intimidated by them since I haven’t painted in oils since High School. I’ll get it though, I figure it only takes a few hundred failures to master a medium.

Who or what inspires you most?

Well, I have to say Carol Marine is high on the list since I started painting non-stop after reading her book. I read or heard that a person must paint 500 paintings in order to be accomplished... so I have miles to go before reaching that goal. Finally other artists inspire me. I love John Singer Sargent (who doesn’t?) Wolf Kahn, Terri Ford, Marla Baggetta, Chuck Close, Degas... and on and on. I love taking another artist’s color palette and trying it on one of my paintings.

Monsoon Season
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Not putting on my artist’s apron and digging in.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I just do it. No excuses.

Near Yellowstone
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

Having traveled the US for both work and pleasure I have thousands of photographs which spark the ideas. I also roam the house for still life objects that I may want to attempt to make 3D on the 2D paper... I like a challenge of water, metal... distance, color so I often use that to drive a painting. Sometimes I’m looking to invoke a feeling of calm or an eerie mood and it’s all dependent on my mood.

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

I think as long as you find the work entertaining, it will stay fresh. I love a constant challenge be it changing the native color to a more vibrant one, using black and white, trying to render shiny or waves. Most of us are so happy to have the ability, opportunity and desire to create and when you have that, I believe the work reflects that thrill.

Night Lights
(click to view)

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

Wow, everything! I am learning to blog (omg), use social media (I’m looking at you Instagram!) and marketing. Not to mention, just painting. I’ve got so much to learn... and the minute you stop learning, aren’t you dead?

What makes you happiest about your art?

Another everything answer! Isn’t it amazing that when you do watercolors, you work at keeping the whites the white of the paper and progress to darks. And isn’t it amazing that when you do pastels, you lay in the darks and layer to try to preserve the dark values you put in for shadows, dark trees and more. Art is the best head game in the world... a puzzle a day and I love the challenge. When you meet the challenge, you have another something you want to share with everyone.

Thanks, Susan!

© 2018 Sophie Marine

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