Wednesday, October 26, 2011


24x36" oil on cradled hardboard

Meet Max and Jake Buzz. They're brothers. Max is always trying to ditch Jake and Jake is always trying to catch up. I'm developing a real affinity for these furry critters, especially since it finally dawned on me to paint them on a smooth surface. Um...duh!

Time for a list. I'm callin' it The Obvious List. Just a few things that were starin' me in the face, keeping me from seeing the oft-mentioned forest for the trees. Like painting highly detailed subject matter on a smooth surface instead of course cotton canvas for example. Here are three really obvious things that I've learned in my seven years as a full time artist:


Don't use them! There you have it! I've tried everything from tenderly washing, conditioning and gently blowing them dry to chanting incantations over their lifeless little bodies, their once lustrous uniform hairs pointing everywhere but north. I've rinsed them in safflower oil or not rinsed them at all. I've spent countless dollars on conditioning soaps, brush-washing machines, and so many chemicals— a lab coat was required. Then a few days ago, I needed a nice crisp zero for detail. My eyes went immediately to the "new brush can." There, glistening in the sun was an entire collection of brand new brushes. I thought I was saving them for that special painting but that wasn't it. I was just saving them! From the inevitable! If someone dipped you in oil paint, dragged you around a canvas and submerged you into a variety of mediums so harsh they require face masks and air cleaners for general use, and then washed you vigorously every day, how long do you think your "do" would hold up? It's a lost cause. There is no way to make them last, period. Use them until they look like crap and then move on.


Ignore them! Period. I've been defending my preference for using photos for reference over live models and still-life set ups for a while now and I suddenly realized that that was the problem! I needed everyone to agree with me and instead of seeing my inability to embrace my choice and not worry about it, I saw everyone who didn't as the problem. And as far as mean spirited comments, they say everything about who is making them and absolutely nothing about my work, except of course when they come from moi, which is most of the time. And they can be helpful. You can't get angry at something you don't believe in.


Stop it! I don't enter competitions or approach galleries so I can't wax poetic about that kind of rejection, but I'm really accomplished at the other kind. We were watching an NFL show the other day and one of the well known coaches has a segment entitled..STOP IT! He reviews whatever a player, coach or owner is doing that he doesn't agree with and just looks at the camera and delivers a snappy...STOP IT! How simple can it be? Feeling inferior Suz? Feeling a lack of creativity? Depressed, lost, wallowing in self-pity? STOP IT! I know, I know... but really, it is that simple! I can curtail the time I feel badly by deciding not to. I have emergency plans in place and the minute I feel myself goin' down the rabbit hole, I revert to plan B. It really is all up to me. The call is coming from inside the house!

I'll be adding to this list as the obvious dawns. Clearly, that doesn't happen often.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Great points Suzanne, and I too prefer a smooth painting surface (except for pastel perhaps). Love your bees!

  2. great painting Suz, the positioning of the bees on the canvas just works in a unique way. and as for the points in your post, they made me laugh except i didn't really get the thing about the rabbit hole... i often go there to reflect and come out having learnt.... my time out to progress;)

  3. I love Max and Jake! You are the "Master" of bugs! LOL. Your post was incredibly amusing! Loved it.

  4. Your Bees are the best bees ever. You are Queen Bee of painting bees and your works are the bees knees:))) Love this painting!! Your works always leave me in awe of your masterful talents!! Also love the pep talk from coach Suzanne--needed to hear it today. I had someone inquire about the price of a painting of mine and I immediately went into a tornado of insecurities!! My price is way to high, I should discount, It's an older piece, my work is so much better now. Why is it I feel the need to apologize for my prices or my work. So I'm going to "Stop It" and get my business head on! Great painting and post, you're the whole package:)

  5. Gunkie!!! Love the Bee Brothers; damn they're cute! And I might have your list tattooed onto my arm ... or my leg, especially if there are going to be additions.

  6. Girl- you can flat out paint. The oh so sweet detail that is just spot on is unbelievable in these bees! Wow! Love reading the post. Good for all of us and your honesty is humbling. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous artwork and the heartfelt "stuff" too!

  7. What wonderful advice, dear Suzanne! And what a gorgeous painting.

    What? You didn't make the Buzz Brothers sit still for you while you painted them from life?

  8. Sure, you are the Quenn of the bees, they are lovely, and your post is hilarious, thank you!

  9. Great post. Great bees and reminders of the obvious.

  10. I love the little bees, and they look like they could be my friends..they look soooo REAl!

  11. Gorgeous gorgeous, Suz. As always.

  12. Suzanne! Your bees are stunning, stunning....did I mention STUNNING!?? Geeeeez, they're so darn soft I want to pet them! Gorgeous rich warm color.
    Ahhhh, you are SO GOOD my friend. You even got the bees' knees!

  13. Hi there Suzanne!... Some great points made regarding... the Self taking responsibility for mapping... sailing and maintaining of one's own creative voyage!

    Despite having huge egos (necessary I believe in the business of creating)... most artist's egos in true fact... are easily bruised either by the criticism thrown at them from all sides... or worse yet.. from the Self-inflicted body blows that come out of unrealistic goals and comparisons to the work of others.

    A true artist... in my humble opinion... is one who simply has a passion for... and deep love... for "the work"! While he or she might look about them and see influences that might perk up their own process... most of the time these "worker bees"... are simply content to come and go on short gathering flights from their "hive"... all the time building their cache of "honey"... from the "nectar" they gather... from the beautiful "flowers" about them.

    Most live and die... unknown for their work and the "sweetness" they bring to others.They don't even get paid minimum wage for their efforts! They do it (the work)... simply because... it's what they were born to do!

    Isn't that just what we all are Suzanne?...Worker bees.... just doing own our job... their own way... by choice... "Daily"?

    I thought you might enjoy this silly analogy here... sent from an "old drone"!! ... but I won't drone on! HA HA!! Back to the easel!

    Love yer furry fellas Suzanne!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

    PS About the brush thingy! If you can ever answer that question... you'll also know... "where old elephants go to die!" Just too em!

  14. Love your bugs, the painted ones, and the observations...but especially the painted ones. I too seem to have a brush fetish, but there ain't nothin' better than dippin' a new one in the goo.

  15. Hell! Excuse me, I would love to see one of those negatallions paint a bee LIVE! Or maybe I would, it would be their last!

  16. Oh and Negatallion: one who speaks negatively thinking they are the stud muffin of advice!

  17. Suzanne I am inspired by your paintings. I am encouraged and educated by your words of wisdom and I am humbled each time you comment on my blog. I am honored that an artist of your stature would even recognize a novice like me. Thank you for your art, for sharing, for taking time for an underdog like me.

  18. I so agree with everything you have written, which makes me more confident in my own conclusions.
    It's funny how obvious some things are once you have figured them out and wondered why the proverbial light bulb hadn't lit up sooner!!!!

    Love the brother bees so cute and furry almost huggable.


Your visits to my blog and the comments you leave here are an integral part of my creative process. They are helpful, supportive and well, let's face it, they feel really good! If I don't thank you personally, please allow me to thank you in advance for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts, they mean so much!