Thursday, April 23, 2020

DPW Spotlight Interview: Susan McManamen

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 "Carefully Stacked" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Susan's DPW Gallery Page:

I am a very grateful product of the daily painting movement. Almost eight years ago, I started painting daily. After a week of p
osting on DPW, I began to regularly sell my work. Hurrah!!! Since then I've sold many paintings, won several awards and now I teach weekly oil painting classes and the occasional workshop. I cannot believe my good fortune. To the people who started the daily painting movement and developed it into what it is today, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you I would be currently working in the cafeteria of the local high school. Instead, I'm doing what I love.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I have been playing with paint since I discovered my mom’s toolbox of acrylics around the age of six. Throughout school, I was fortunate to have many encouraging people in my life, including my mom and art teachers. Unfortunately, in college, a few teachers were less than helpful and sometimes downright discouraging. This ultimately derailed my passion for painting for years. When both of my daughters entered school, I decided to try it once again. It was at this time that I found Elizabeth Kincaid, an amazing watercolorist and wonderful teacher. I was off and running once again! My focus on watercolor lasted for several years before I fell in love with oil while plein air painting. Plein air painting has since become quite a passion of mine. My biggest strides as an artist occurred, however, when I decided to become a daily painter.

Carefully Stacked
(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?

If you can name it, I‘ve probably tried it. There was acrylic, charcoal, ink, and papier-mâché in high school and college. Paper sculpture had its moment after college. Then watercolor when I returned to painting. My current love is oil. Regarding genres, I love to work in all different types. I feel to maintain a daily painter's pace and not burn out, one needs to try every subject or genre under the sun.

Which genres and mediums have "stuck"?

Oil painting has definitely stuck for me in a major way. I find the texture and rich color are completely captivating. Regarding genres, I enjoy painting a wide variety, namely still life, floral, landscape, and urbanscapes.

Which media and genre are you looking forward to exploring?

There are many types of media I am excited to try! I’ve been telling myself for years that I will take up pastels in my sixties. It gives me something to look forward to. I’ve recently seen beautiful paintings created in gouache and decided to make that my “lockdown distraction.” I just signed up for an online class and purchased several tubes of lovely gouache. I’m so excited! Also would love to explore portraiture in the near future.

Who or what inspires you most?

That is so hard to narrow down! There are so many, many incredible artists past and present out there whom I find inspiring. A favorite from the past would be Mary Cassat, an Instagram favorite would be Adam Clague and a daily painting favorite would be Julien Merrow-Smith. I’m enchanted with the way each handles light, color and texture.

What does procrastination look like for you?

Procrastination is my middle name. I’m a master. And it explains why I’m often found painting very late in my studio or as the sun sets outdoors. Accountability keeps it from becoming a total crutch. Setting up a painting challenge where I post the results publicly is huge motivation to get working. My credit card bill is also another big motivator.

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

I often create painting challenges for myself, and this helps combat procrastination as well as gets me excited to do something new! Last year I participated in a “365 paintings in 365 days challenge” and created a YouTube channel to document my process. This year I decided to take on “365 plein air paintings in one year.” This one has been a bear of a challenge. It was especially difficult during the long, wet winter. Thank God for heated vests and big umbrellas! When I participate in a challenge, my first thought in the morning is when and where am I going to do my painting for the day. Then I build the rest of the day’s activities around that.

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

A lot of my painting subjects are seasonal in nature. In the spring I often paint a lot of flowers, in the summer I paint in the field doing landscapes, in the fall there’s pumpkins and sunflowers and in the winter there’s Christmas. My extensive prop collection is very helpful. I’ve gleefully collected from many an antique shop and thrift store over the years. My crowded, untidy, prop shelves can be quite inspiring. There are also my oil painting students and artist friends who often have wonderful ideas to share. Never underestimate the power of collaboration.

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

Easily the best way I have found to keep my art fresh is to take a class, either in person or online, with an artist I admire. The next best is to be willing to paint a large variety of subjects indoors and out. In the end, regardless of the subject, it’s all just shapes and colors, right?

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

Color, unquestionably. I am always striving to be more sensitive to color subtleties and be more expressive. Then of course there is value. So much power and poetry in properly handled values.

What makes you happiest about your art?  

Two things make me happy really, really happy about my art. First is the opportunity to spend so much time observing and soaking in something beautiful. Second is the thank you note I get from a collector who loves their newest painting. :)

I have to say a huge thank you to everyone at Daily Paintworks. It’s here that I was able to first consistently sell my work, giving me the confidence to keep painting and build the business I have today. You guys rock!!

Thanks, Susan!

© 2020 Sophie Marine

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