Sketches of my new family in Istanbul

Bedriye, Halide, Hande, Sacide, Nilgun, Neslihan, Aslihan, Nadide

This series started as a quick sketch of Aslihan, Ugur's beautiful 12 year old niece, second from the right on the bottom. Within a day or two it became a series of all the women in the family... except Ugur.  Guess I'll need to rectify that soon, right?

I love to sketch. These days, sketching has become simply a cursory prelude to a painting, though.  I need to remember how delicious it is to simply sketch.

Robin- the finish of a commissioned portrait.

Robin, oil 16 x 20
I'm so pleased with this portrait. Robin was a firefighter who lost her life fighting a fire in 2008.  She left behind two little girls and loving parents. Her mother commissioned the portrait and was gracious about waiting several months for my schedule to allow me to paint Robin for her.

Robin's smile must be missed every day.  Every time I paint a portrait I feel as though I've gotten to know the person I've painted...  I spent so many hours looking into her eyes, I felt privileged to have been smiled at like that.

My love to Robin's family.

See the start of this portrait in previous post.

I'm alive and well, and starting a new commission...

Start of commissioned portrait- Robin.
July was the last time I posted, for heaven's sake. Thank you to those of you who wrote to check on me.  Between my daughter, the gallery and commissions and traveling, some things had to wait, and my sweet blog was one of them. I'm so glad you came by!

Yesterday I got to start a new commission- a lovely woman named Robin.  I decided to broadcast live as I painted so I could have some company through the process. Several friends popped into the chat room to watch and talk with me- always wonderful. This image above is a work-in-progress image just two and a half hours into the 16 x 20 oil. It's fairly thinly painted so far, as my objective was just to map out my values and work toward her likeness, and get the white of the canvas covered.

If you'd like to watch the broadcast of the beginning of this portrait, it's in two parts:
part 1 (about 45 minutes)
part 2 (about 57 minutes)

I'll try to post the image of the completed portrait when I've finished.

Over these first 14 months we've owned the gallery, Ugur and I offered each of the gallery artists a show- a chance to showcase their work by showing more pieces than we are usually able to show, and we've had a reception to kick off each exhibition. Right after Thanksgiving, it'll be OUR turn.  Wait!!!  That means we need new work.  (She panics.)  Between now and the end of Thanksgiving, I actually want to experiment with new subject matter and new painting processes, and right now I only have sketchy ideas for those new paintings. It's kind of exciting, actually. Only part of the excitement is panic.  (Ok, a big part.)  But I'm actually very interested to see what will happen when I step out some of my patterns of limited thinking.  I'll let you know how it goes!

"If I Weren't So Stingy..."

Glorious Gold
This is how one of Julia Cameron's questions begins in her book THE ARTIST'S WAY. The question is: "If I weren't so stingy with my artist, I would buy her/him..." The reader is supposed to finish the statement.

Boy, that really struck home when I read it the first time many years ago, and each time since.
Reclining Nude
I'm awfully stingy with the child-like personification of my artist self. Although sometimes I take her shopping and buy her new tubes of paint, that's usually prompted by a great sale, not by timely need.  I can't tell you how many hours I've spent comparing cool travel easels online, deciding which accessories I could live without and then end up not buying one at all. I still own- and use- the wooden French easel I bought when I was 21.  I turned 56 today.  A little subtraction will reveal how many years I've traveled with that box.  All the hardware desperately needs replacing.

It took me until this year to buy the metal spirits can with the clamp-on lid I've wanted since I started painting in oils.  And I only got it because it was in Jerry's Artarama's Deep Discount Super Sale. 

Stephen and Ben Wenzel

Just today I dug all the sticky tubes out of the disreputable lunch bag I've been using to hold my paints and organized them in a VERY inexpensive (No, really- $6.98) plastic tackle box from WallyWorld. Well, at least I don't have to scrabble around and dig through the tubes to find the one color that's sure to be on the bottom and be the stickiest of all. 

My frugality is a sickness. And it's deeply, deeply ingrained. 

In contrast, I see fledgling art students come to their first class or workshop outfitted to the teeth. They've researched and bought the best. The best easels, best brushes (I could eat for three months on what some of those brushes cost), the best paints and a shiny new spirits can with the clamp-on lid. And they've never painted anything yet!  I sometimes wonder if they think the expensive supplies will paint the painting FOR them.

Online Workshop Painting
Somewhere between my stingy sickness and the stupendous supply splurge is some kind of healthy approach to equipping our child-like artist selves.  We need toys.  Okay, it's more like: WE NEED TOYS!  I know, I know, a cardboard box could entertain us as children for hours, but eventually we needed crayons and fingerpaints and an Etch-A-Sketch and a computer with image-editing software.  We need time to make messes and "waste" paint.  We need a palette knife so we can ladle on the gooey goodness of great color.  We need canvas and gesso panels and we need them in every size.  We need to scrape off the old dried-up paint from our palettes and squirt generous dollops of each color onto our fresh surface well before the time we actually need that color.  We need a few decent brushes. We need paint that does not have the word Hue in the name.  (Ok, I still have a few of those...)  We need to SHOP.  

Let's wrestle to the ground and hog-tie our sickening stinginess. This year I'm going to buy a great travel easel.....   I am, SO!  
Happy Birthday to my child-like and worthy inner artist!

Finding Time To Paint (Write/Sculpt/Create anthing...)

I was going to paint today. No, really. I was.

The cute couple who are the subjects in my current portrait commission are on my easel right now looking at me as if to say, "Come paint our hands now. And how about clothes, for Heaven's sake?" I've looked back longingly and apologetically in return, but have not painted. I've vacuumed the gallery, taken photographs of two children for a portrait later in my schedule, sold a print, a bracelet and some cards to visitors, discussed the possibility of representation with an inquiring artist, eaten lunch -a bite now and then as I could dash into the kitchen between visitors, and I've composed this newsletter to send out to you. I haven't painted.

I think I know why:  I was taught to do my chores first and then play.  Like I was taught to eat my spinach and clean my plate before I could have dessert. 
Because painting is the funnest thing ever, I think I have to earn it.  I have to deserve it- I have to do my chores and eat my spinach first.
But what if you make a living doing what you love?  The rules get all tangled up in our heads.  Is painting (writing/sculpting/playing music/designing, etc.) now the play or the chore? I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I wouldn't want to paint for my living, because then it would be work, not play."

It's never worked that way for me. Painting is the funnest thing, whether I'm painting a commissioned portrait or painting something of my own conception.  Getting paid to do it is an added layer of joy, not something that transforms the process into drudgery. So, what's the solution, you ask?

I think paintings get done when I schedule them in like they're important, too.   Women especially "get" this, I think.  We're learning to schedule ourselves into our own days along with the tasks of home and work.  It's intention backed up with actually writing it down.  Between "Do the laundry" and "Bank," you write "2:00-3:00 Paint." 

To REALLY make sure we do it, we can tell a friend what we intend and then plan to call that friend to report in once we've done it.  Learning to be accountable to ourselves is easier when we use our natural urge to be accountable to others.

Deadlines are fabulous motivators, too.  Painting for a specific competition or for someone's birthday gift or because you agreed on a certain due date with a client... all can light the fire under us to align ourselves with our easels and get started.  Waiting for the muse isn't smart. The muse shows up when we've got a smudge of Cadmium red on our right cheek or when we've lost track of time because we're typing fast and our brains are full of the story we're telling.

So... it's time to close up the gallery and I'm packing up the cute couple to take home with me. I've promised them hands and clothes. And I keep my promises.

One-Day Online Portrait Painting Workshop July 2, 2011

Study with Susan Carlin… from home.
Move your portrait painting skills forward with a
One-Day Online Portrait Painting Workshop
Saturday, July 2, 2011
$60. tuition includes video pre-instruction, day-long workshop, two assessments of your work-in-progress during the workshop, with suggestions for how to proceed, and one assessment-and-suggestion session a week following the workshop. REGISTER NOW!

With registration, and at two weeks prior to the workshop, you will receive:
• a high-resolution image file of the workshop reference,
• a supply list,
• the address and password for the website where you may watch the pre-instruction videos, and where the workshop will be held.
The day of the workshop you will receive:
• instruction in the art of painting a portrait,
• two assessment-and-suggestion critiques of your painting, if desired.
One week following, if you take that time to put finishing touches on your painting, you’ll receive:
• a third assessment-and-suggestion session.
By registering early, you’ll have plenty of time to carefully complete your sketch on your painting surface in preparation for beginning the painting on the day of the workshop.
At 9:30 Saturday morning, July 2nd, I will discuss my process as I start from a white canvas panel and paint the portrait as you follow along and paint from the same reference.
At midday, you may take a digital photograph of your painting and email it to me so that I can put it on screen and discuss what is working well and how you might improve it when you resume painting. At this time you’ll see the paintings of the other artists attending the workshop, and get to know them better through the chat as we discuss each other’s efforts.
We’ll paint again until 4 p.m., completing our paintings. Again, you’ll send me a photo by email for assessment and suggestions. When we’ve completed those, we say, “goodbye and well done!” A week later, July 9 at 10 a.m., we meet up again for another assessment-and-suggestion session for those who’ve painted further on their portraits that week. We celebrate our accomplishments!

What you won’t have to do when you register for this workshop:
• Pack up your art supplies and carry them anywhere. (Savor this one… Ahhhh…)
• Find someone to feed your dog or cat… or spouse.
• Drive to another city.
• Pay for a hotel room.
• Dress up. Or dress at all. (Stay in your jammies… who will care? Ahhhh….)
If you would like your final painting’s image to be posted on my blog (with or without a link to your site), there will be a $10. fee option at the end of the workshop. I’d love to show off your work!
I hope you’ll join us for a fun, heart-racing day of painting your socks off!

Living An Artist's Life

I admit it.
I've never been so happy. People notice. Sometimes folks ask me about my life and then squint at me while I answer, like they're seeing through some dense fog, trying to imagine such a thing as doing what you love... and making your living doing it. I’ve watched one or two walk away obviously unconvinced. It just "does not compute" for some.

I didn't always do what I loved, though. I held myself away from this challenge and this pleasure and the artist's life for years and years...

I told myself I’d get back to my art when I retired, when my daughter was grown, when my To-Do list was all crossed off, when I could build a studio first, when I could find a whole, uninterrupted day/week/month to devote to it, when I owned all the right supplies, when I could be guaranteed up front that I would be successful at it, when I knew for sure that I had something unique to offer, when I could stop being afraid of failing, when I could stop being afraid.

 All those excuses, all that fear only served to keep me doing the thing I was less passionate about and kept me afraid. This fear starts early. I have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of third-graders as the representative “fine artist” in an arts program of a local school district, and I can count on at least one child per class asking, “What if you make a mistake?”

Oh my. This is the truth of it: almost every other brush stroke is a “mistake.” You lay one down, you assess how closely it came to the value/color/direction/ thickness/sharpness you had in mind. If it varied too far from your intention, you mix more paint and lay another one on top of it. Then you assess that one. Then you repeat that sequence until you have a finished painting.

It’s just paint.

Or is it? When you think of what painting (writing/drawing/sculpting/playing music/etc.) represents to someone who is a ‘derailed’ artist, or an artist who is learning a new medium, or a new artist, or someone who is not sure she CAN BE an artist at all, it’s a whole lot more.

It’s being willing to step outside of the safe, the ordinary, the approved, the sanctioned, the tried-and-true, in order to take risks and be vulnerable and unique and authentic and experimental and audacious , expressing to yourself that time spent making art is valuable… valuable to you and perhaps even to others down the line.

When I started to paint again and then to show my new work to friends and patients, then to strangers, and then to take commissions and then to enter shows and then start a blog and a website to show my work to a wider circle yet, then to open a gallery… the very process of facing my fears, one brush stroke at a time, has made me braver. Every painting has made me a more experienced painter.

I’m now voracious in the never-ending process of adding to my skills and the range of paintings I make. I see potential paintings everywhere and in everyone. There isn’t enough time in the world for me to paint every painting I want to make.

Over this last year and a half I’ve been facing an enormous fear. I’m learning to dance. I’m taking classes, I make mistakes, I make a fool of myself, I apologize to everyone I dance with, but I’m learning. And sometimes I can make it all the way around the dance floor or get through a whole song and feel the magic of turning in step and moving to a beat and cooperating with a dance partner. I still feel fear, but I dance all the way through it. Isn’t that the way of it?

I encourage you to live the artist’s life: Create something for yourself today. Lay a stroke down. Write a sentence. Play a note or two or three. Dance a little. Dance a lot. Feel the fear and then do it anyway. You’re the artist of your life.

Life is good.

New Website Up! Reception: Constance Seiler & Tim Olson Sunday, May 1st

Howdy! I'm so proud of Nueva Street Gallery's new website. Ugur did an incredible job designing and piecing together all its thousands of parts. I hope you'll take a minute to poke aroud and see the artists' work. I think you'll really understand why we're so happy to be there each day. If you fall in love with an artwork, there's a way to make it your own.
THEN I hope you'll plan to come to our reception for two of the gallery's artists: Constance Seiler who designs and makes beautiful jewelry, and Tim Olson who creates magical mixed media artworks. Artists, art, refreshments and champagne on a spring Sunday afternoon in San Antonio's La Villita by the Riverwalk... Can it get better than that?
I'm busy at my easel with a full list of portrait commissions these days. I've decided to release myself from the rigid schedule of Wednesday evening online painting broadcasts, and go to a looser, as-the-spirit-moves, impromptu approach. If you'd like to be notified when I'm online painting, please subscribe on the Studio page on the new website, or on the Calendar page on my personal website. I hope you'll join us sometime... it's always fun.
See you online and on May Day!
507 E. Nueva St.
San Antonio, TX 78205

Salon International Opening

When I arrived for the Awards Banquet on Friday evening, I was delighted to find it had been sold that day. Don't you love a big red dot on your title tag?! What a nice way to start the night!

Daniel Greene was the judge of this year's Salon. He gave an inspiring speech during the banquet.

Saturday morning, Mr. Greene offered his critiques to those of us who took advantage of his observations. This is the master's hand commenting on Wide World. Doesn't she look a little apprehensive? Imagine what the artist was feeling!

The reception Saturday evening was just wonderful. Good friends came to help celebrate - Thank you! I also loved celebrating with the other artists - some old friends, some new- and taking in the the beautiful paintings. There isn't any way to absorb them all in one day or two, so I'll being going back several times before the ending of the show on April 22nd- to try to really see each of them. If you can make it to the Greenhouse Gallery before the end of the show, I really recommend it. You can also see the paintings online here.

Wide World is one of the 22 paintings from the show which have sold so far. Cool, right?

Workshop Report: Pictures of Pitchers

Wow! What a day! We had a great group of artists-from Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Connecticut, Texas and two from Canada. I'm so proud of each of them and the terrific work they did on Sunday. We're all going to finish our paintings in this next week and meet up online for one more show-and-tell/"assessment and suggestions" session, but I thought you'd like to see how we all did by the end of our workshop day. WooHOOO!

Champagne Reception- Nancy Bandy: Cloud Nine

Please join us for our reception of Nancy Bandy and her newest pastel landscapes... Or CLOUDSCAPES, if you will. Heavenly.
Thursday, March 24, 5-8 p.m.
See you there!

Online One-Day Painting Workshop and Online Broadcast Schedule Change

Register for my Online Still Life Workshop by clicking HERE.
Sunday, March 20, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. $50.

Paint along with me as you watch me paint in oil from this still life arrangement. You can ask questions along the way, and twice you'll have the opportunity to email me a photo of your progress so I might offer my assessment and suggestions, and therefore see the other painters' paintings, too.
Before the workshop, I’ll send you a supply list and the high resolution image file of our reference and you’ll have time to complete your drawing before we start painting.

I'll spend some time discussing principles I consider when setting up a still life and we'll paint the whole painting together in the course of the day. You’ll have access to the video recordings of the workshop afterward to review.

You just need good internet access next to your easel and a digital camera to send me your photos.

Where else can you spend time painting with others, learn a lot, have so much fun, not have to carry all your equipment and supplies somewhere, and do it all in your jammies, if you like?! No matter your skill level, I think you’ll learn a little something and have a good time, so I hope you’ll join us. Register.

A change in my Online Broadcast schedule…

I’ve been painting at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays for quite a long time now. Starting tomorrow, I’m going to try out a different schedule: 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays, broadcasting from the gallery. I hope you’ll come by and chat with me while I paint!
Below is the painting I’m working on now… A landscape, for goshsakes! It’s a cliffhanger…

Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful spring.


210-602-8562 cell

Nueva Street Gallery

210-229-9810 gallery

Champagne Reception: Patty Cooper at Nueva Street Gallery March 3, 5-8 p.m.

We're celebrating this Thursday, March 3, 5-8 p.m...

Patty Cooper's newest oil and pastel paintings.

The colors, shapes and textures of plants speak straight to the soul.

Come hear what these Talking Flora are saying!

Cell phone: 210-602-8562

Gallery: 210-229-9810
Nueva Street Gallery
507 E. Nueva Street
San Antonio, TX 78205

March 20- Online One-Day Still Life Workshop

(My painting from last year's online still life workshop.) I'm offering a one-day online still life painting workshop on March 20th, a Sunday about a month from now. The arrangement will be considerably less fussy than last year's reference. I'll spend some time discussing principles I consider when setting up a still life and we'll paint the whole painting together in the course of the day. Twice you'll have the opportunity to email me a photo of your progress so I might offer my assessment and suggestions, and therefore see the other painters' paintings, too. You can ask me questions along the way and have access to the video recordings of the workshop afterward to review. The cost is $50. Where else can you spend time painting with others, learn a lot, have so much fun, not have to carry all your equipment and supplies somewhere, and do it all in your jammies, if you like?!
I hope you'll join us! Susan Cell phone: 210-602-8562

2011 Salon International entry accepted!

Well, I can breathe again. I'm thrilled to let you

know that Wide World was accepted into this year's Salon International! There are so many amazing artists in this show and the paintings are inspiring- it's an honor to be juried in!
You can go HERE to see which works were accepted. This is the first year the Greenhouse Gallery has created links to the paintings' images. I've been enjoying looking at them all. Daniel Greene is the judge this year for the competition. I think of him as my first portrait painting instructor since it was his book that I poured over and his skill at painting that I aspired to when I began painting at age 20. (Over 35 years ago, my friends.) The show opens April 2nd and runs through April 22 at the Greenhouse Gallery here in San Antonio. I hope you'll make time to go. Then come visit Nueva Street Gallery while you're here! (Our new website is almost ready to launch. I'll post a link as soon as it's up, I promise.)

I was informed Wednesday that I've worked on this portrait of John Pototschnik on and off for two years. That's some sort of a record for dawdling for me. I mean, I can dawdle with the best of them, but two YEARS??! This is the current state of its progress and I hope to show it in its finished state very, very soon.

San Antonio woke up to snow this morning. You read that right. Snow. I had icicles hanging from the edges of my car. No, really. I think it last happened the year before I moved here- 1985. I've seen ice in San Antonio before, but not snow that stuck and stayed. A friend texted at 3:45 a.m.: SNOW! A quick pull on the blinds' cord revealed a beautiful scene outside. Kind of magical, really. Like hearing someone yelling "Northern Lights!" outside the RV in Michigan one night around 2 a.m., and going out to be gobsmacked by undulating curtains of color and an iris of slowly pulsing light directly above.

I wish you magic in your day today. Snow, Northern Lights or 'just' the smile of someone you love.

Wide World- completed and submitted

On New Year's Eve I posted my start of this painting, and promised to show you when I finished it. The deadline for entry into this year's Salon International was Friday, and I got it submitted in the nick of time. Perhaps it's not smart to mention this. What if it's not accepted? After years of competitions I've seen one of my paintings get Best Of Show in one, and not even get accepted in another, so I understand the capriciousness of it all. Still, I am holding my breath. I'll let you know.

About 10 days ago we had a reception for Carol Marine and her beautiful paintings at Nueva Street Gallery. At one point during the reception we did a short (14 minutes, I think) broadcast of talking with her and some of the guests, showing her paintings and then doing a short tour of the gallery and the other work we have right now.
Please just know that it's not a polished video, just an unedited, fun record of part of the party. You can watch it here if you like.

Today started grey and cold and... a Monday. I wanted to stay curled up under the blankets, honestly. Now it's beautiful and clear and 63 degrees in San Antonio, with many happy travelers and convention-goers coming in and taking home art that makes them even gladder to have visited our fair city.
Always a good lesson: A day can always get more beautiful, a friendship can deepen, you can learn something valuable, you can be a bright spot for a stranger and you can cross some items off your to-do list and feel more accomplished by just showing up sometimes.

Hope you have a magical day!

Carol Marine Reception

When I first became owner of Nueva Street Gallery, I started visualizing someday showing Carol Marine's paintings. Someday has arrived!
Please join us in welcoming Carol at a champagne reception for her and her delicious paintings on Thursday, January 13th, from 5-8 p.m.
Take a break and come spend a day - or several - in San Antonio, enjoying the Riverwalk, La Villita, and Nueva Street Gallery.
We'd love to see you!
Cell phone: 210-602-8562
Gallery: 210-229-9810
Nueva Street Gallery
507 E. Nueva Street
San Antonio, TX 78205