Every day I will be proud of my creative choices

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Radio Interview

Leslie Saeta

A Conversation with Susan Lyon

by Leslie Saeta

Portrait drawings

I met Angel through a local artist friend of mine, she was his niece and was staying with him for a while. When I met her she was 11 and very shy. I was immediately attracted to her big dark eyes, I felt giddy and knew I had to paint her. She was a little a nervous when she came over for a photo shoot., it can be strange for anyone at any age. I asked her to look this way and that way and think about happy thoughts. After a while she really warmed up to the experience and I got some amazing photos of her. When she saw some of the prints I made for her I could tell that she had never seen her self that way. I hope it gave her a little bit of confidence because she is a sweet and beautiful young lady. I did this drawing on Rives paper with pastel and pastel pencil.

This is Angel again, I couldn't resist the way she was looking at the viewer. Her eyes are mesmerizing. She was wearing a light winter coat at the time so I went and got a white scarf for her to play with. Even though you don't see her mouth I like the emotion in her face. This was done on Rives paper with pastel and pastel pencil

Nicki is another niece of an artist friend of mine, Sharon Grubbs. I had the dolls I wanted to paint and draw, I just need a great little girl. I asked around if someone knew of a girl around the right age and Nicki's name came up. I had Sharon bring Nicki over to my home studio for a photo shoot. I never art direct children, it won't help, you just let them do what comes natural. She was a star and I had a great time with her. I loved her hair and wanted to emphasize it. I accentuated her face and the doll leaving her clothes and background simple. That is difficult for me to know home much to leave out. I like it when there is a play on detail against simple areas, that way I let the viewer's eye fill in the spaces.  This was done on Rives paper with pastel and pastel pencil.

Willow is my niece, ( I see a pattern here) I let her play with a scarf also. I believe it's nice to have something move the eye around in the composition. She is 2 in the drawing and probably one of the only times she was sitting still. I did this drawing on regular sketch book paper with pastel pencil. It was frustrating to me because the paper stains easily and didn't allow the pastel to rub like I like. I got through it with a lot of patience. It's good to try all kinds of paper's, you never know when one will click.

This drawing is titled  "Timeless Beauty"  Andrea has the most amazing face. She posed for me regularly for about a year until she got a full time job. I still hired her now and then on the weekends. She is African American / Korean; I could paint or draw her forever, unfortunately she has moved to Texas to follow her bliss. This is another example of leaving as much as possible out of the drawing to let the viewer fill in the spaces.
This was done on Rives paper with pastel and pastel pencil

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mr Parks daily handouts

Mr Parks was a wonderful teacher, over the years he taught some of the best know artists of today. I had him for one semester before he retired from full time teaching to only teach on Saturday's. For a year my Father, Scott and I took his Saturday morning drawing class. We stayed in touch with him over the years and he came to Scott's and my wedding reception at the Palette and Chisel. Everyday he would post a new saying on the door, something he got from a book, something he made up or maybe a newspaper clipping that caught his eye. One that I repeat to friends and students all the time is  "Nothing great was ever created without enthusiasm"

A lady who also had Mr Parks as a teacher sent me this photo of him during WWII while he was stationed in Japan. He is the one on the right wearing the glasses


This drawing was done with a brown pastel pencil on a cool toned Bristol board paper, it is 15" by 20". I rarely ever use paper like this because it is hard to erase. I'm not sure what got into me that day, probably just the fact that I have so many different kinds of paper in my studio that I thought I should try it.

Well, soon after I started the drawing I knew I was in for some frustration. I know I shouldn't always do the same thing all the time, so even though I struggled with erasing, and that the pastel wouldn't smooth out like I like, I'm glad that I tried it after the fact. I have to remind myself to experiment.

This reference was taken on a trip to Africa that Scott and I did in the summer of 2008; this town was at the bottom of a huge Volcano in the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania. We had just finished our trek and had stayed over night down the lane the night before. I was completely mentally and physically exhausted and really just wanted to sleep and not have anymore adventures. Our guide mentioned that just around the bend is a small village and that it was having a market that day. I didn't want to go, but what the heck -- you are half way around the world.

I was not prepared for the amount of people, let alone everyone in traditional outfits. These people were in the most unbelievably beautiful clothes, the fanciest that we had seen all trip. The men looked like models; it was interesting that the men were much more attractive then the women. In fact the women usually didn't have hair (sometimes it was very difficult to tell the men and women apart) although in this area the men took a lot of pride in their appearance, some had shoulder length or longer hair that was finely adorned with braids and beads.

There were two other couples, mainly from Europe walking around from the camp ground that we stayed at. The local children were insistent about selling us bracelets and following us around. There was some antagonism towards us, but for the most part it was a very friendly atmosphere. I let a girl of about 11 go off with the camera to take photos. I loved looking through the footage afterwards, she had some really artistic compositions, like close ups of fabrics and unusual angles of people talking. The locals didn't care if she took photos of them so it took pressure off of me. I did the drawing above from one of the photos she took.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quote's I love

Learning is finding out what you already know
doing is demonstrating that you know it
teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you
You are all learners, doers, and teachers

There is no such thing as a problem without
 a gift for you in it's hands
You seek problems because you need their gifts

In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom
It is not always an easy sacrifice

"Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

                       I'm painting Hope the niece of Patty Bailey Sheets ( a friend and artist I paint with) she posed frequently for about a year. Here she is in a traditional outfit I bought in Prague. ( I found this shop in the basement of a building in the old section of the city and was amazed that they had hundreds of real - not costume - outfits that women actually wore. I could only buy 3 full outfits due to luggage space. Behind her hanging on the wall is a painting that Scott had done of her from a previous sitting. This photo was taken around 2003.

                         This photo was taken aound 2004, here I am painting a still life of Roses and Lemons ( the painting is in my book) I'm using a combination of side north light from the big window and daylight florescents blubs from above.

                          You can see from this photo that I am using the big Hughes easel now, I totally recommend it. It's especially nice when you are doing long horizontal paintings, I used to have to move my easel and palette around so I could get the same angle when painting long horizontal still lifes's, with this easel you can move the canvas easily with a light touch of the finger.

I bought the large gymnastic mats from the local YMCA, they are perfect for standing and walking back to see your painting. The big spot light with the angled boom has a powerfull 600 watt bulb. It's nice for when you don't want the tripod to get in your way, you can have it behind you. I usually use this light set up for my downtown studio on Trade for when I have figure models.

Ths is the front of my studio, the view from my deck. Scott dug out the foundation and did the roofing by himself. We hired a couple of guys to do the framing, then we did everything else. At the time we didn't have a lot of money so we tried to make it as simple as possible. It's just a big box with out a closest or bathroom. I do have a loft space for storage. The size is 20 by 24 and has 14' ceilings.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


                     She is the same model as the drawing I did for the Strathmore ad. Her name is Yanca and she is 11 years old. What a beauty ! She's posed for me and my artists friends a couple of times and she's quite good at sitting still. One time we set up a labtop in front of her on a box and she watched an animated movie. The painting above is 6 by 8 inches, it seems that something so small should be fast to finish, but they can take just as long as a life size painting for me.
                           This is a drawing I did of Yanca from life at one of our model sessions at my trade st studio in Winston Salem. I used heavy weight Rives paper in cream with a Sanguine pastel pencil, the size is 16 by 12.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Artists that inspire me

In no particular order  - I will add to this post on a regualar basis

Edgar Payne Composition of Outdoor Painting-

J. W. Waterhouse

The Art Spirit-  Robert Henri

Frank Benson

Carlsons Guide to Landscape Painting-  John Carlson

George Carlson

The Paintings of Richard E. Miller "A Bright Oasis

Kevin Macpherson     www.kevinmacpherson.com

The Paintings of Edmund C. Tarbell

"Figure Drawing, Head and Hands" and "Creative Illustration"-  Andrew Loomis

John Singer Sargent

Anders Zorn

Carl Larsson

Dennis Miller Bunker

Joaquin Sorolla-  Hispanic Society,  NY

Nicolai Fechin

Gustav Klimt

Cecilia Beaux

The Art of Thomas Wilmer

Alla Prima, Figure Painting and Landscape Painting-
Richard Schmid   RichardSchmid.com

Sacred Paint-  Ned Jacob
George Bridgman
The Human Figure   John Vanderpoel

Alphonse  Mucha

Abram  Arkhipov

Filipp Maliavin   ( I've seen this name spelled many different ways )

Ilya Repin

Valentin  Serov

Clarence McGrath    ( I first saw his work on a card that an old gallery in Scottsdale had from the 1980's, I had never heard of him before and was blown away !!! He traveled and painted other cultures like I hadn't seen before. I tried to find him on the website but just got a few small paintings that were at an auction house. One artist who is in his 50's had known of him about 30 years ago and didn't know what had happened to him. I'm truly sorry that his work is not being honored and remembered)

Nancy Guzik
Dan Gerhartz

Michelle Dunaway
Mary Whyte

Quang Ho

Daniel Sprick

John Asaro

Bettina Steinke

Dean Cornwell

Carl Von Marr- West Bend Gallery of Fine Art, West
Bend, WI

Frederick J. Mulhaupt- North Shore Arts Assoc.
Gloucester, MA

The Art of Scott L. Christensen- http://www.christensenstudio.com/

Edgar Payne Composition of Outdoor Painting-

Friday, May 13, 2011

pastel of Yanca

This is the ad for the cover of Strathmore pastel paper. I've used Strathmore papers for a long time, my favorite is the 400 series for quick sketch and portrait sketches.