Susan Williamson has a passion for farm animals, getting to know them intimately through her painting. She shares that she had an awakening during an encounter with a bovine and has never looked back. “My goal is to depict these non-human animals as the sentient, beautiful beings that they are. That’s it.” Susan mostly paints cows, but she says all farm animals have a place in her studio. She looks into their face, at their stance, or patterns in the coat and paints from her own photographs.
Susan recalls a childhood full of drawing and painting, taking breaks for family and the corporate world. Once she left her full time job at an engineering company, she began her own education, taking classes with artists like master watercolorist, Jim McFarlane, and reading art books to enhance her knowledge. Early on, Susan explains that she chose her materials based on the instructor’s materials list or articles in magazines. “In the beginning, I tried to save money and cheap out on materials which made the process more frustrating and gave me less satisfying results. Maybe it was a combination of poor quality materials and a learning curve, but most of the paintings were thrown in the trash. Using high quality materials is so much more satisfying. . . more pigment, more tooth, effective brushes all make a difference.”
In her current work, Susan uses both pastels and oils, and often works on Pastelbord, which she discovered in a workshop with Stan Sperlak, pastellist and instructor. When choosing her painting materials, she considers the final outcome of the piece and the subject. “Pastels offer much more control for me and if the desired effect is more detail, I use pastels. I use the largest brush possible with oils, which makes for much less control and more suggestion,” she explains. All of her work, however, requires an underpainting, which is where Pastelbord shines. “I always do a wet underpainting on Pastelbord and what a relief it is to not worry about buckling or ripples. The finished painting really glows on this surface. The pastel pigment really sticks, too.”
Susan has a few upcoming shows including Historic Yellow Springs and a fundraiser for the local SPCA: The Traditional Artists Show. There is also much more of Susan’s work and intimate animal portraiture on her blog: Mud, Manure and Paint. or through her website and store: susan-williamson.artistwebsites.com
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