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Thalo Spotlight Artist Suzan Savage

Thalo loves to promote artists and each month, we spotlight a member of our community!

This month we are pleased to have Suzan Savage as the thalo spotlight artist for September 2020!


"Summer Posies" - 12X12, Acrylic - @zanart01


Thalo Team:  Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?
Suzan Savage: Sure! I paint to further understand the wonders of the world around me. For myself and others yes, but also for my students, in hopes of inspiring their own exploration of the wondrous in what they see. My genre varies widely, but I am always drawn to capture the essence of my subjects with quick bold strokes and many layers of color and texture. I am more in tune with an impressionistic approach than worrying over minute detail! My tool of choice is often the palette knife. It's an excellent tool for fracturing color and light, lending animation in my pursuit to capture the essence of whatever I may be working on. I also enjoy process and experimenting with various mediums and techniques. Exploration and experimentation... What a wonderful meditation painting can be!

What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?
It’s about finding the essence – distilling the essential nature of the subject to a simpler
arrangement of light, form and color. Sometimes there is a story to be told, whether in my
composition or from the viewer imposing their own experiences. Sometimes, the piece simply is. If my work motivates the viewer to look more closely and find a connection in what they see then I am happy.

11X14, Acrylic - @zanart01"Walk in the Rain" - 11X14, Acrylic - @zanart01

Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?
It is impossible to pinpoint really. I am constantly inspired by the amazing artists that cross my path whether from study of the masters of the past or newly discovered artists of present day... However, I will say that the Impressionists (particularly Monet and Degas) have always had a strong influence on my process.

Where do you like to present your work, and why? (Galleries, website, social media, etc.)
My primary focus has been guiding others in their artistic journey through workshops and
classes for about 12 years now, so I haven’t pursued showing my work at galleries and shows in a while. When I did, I enjoyed it most when I could interact directly with those interested in my work - most often sculptures and vessels in clay at the time. I did this primarily through gallery shows and art festivals. Today I do most of my marketing and sharing of work through my websites and social media sites. This may very well change in these unprecedented times as class venues have become limited and I focus more energy on creating pieces for potential collectors rather than primarily for classes...

Do you feel like your work has evolved? If so, how?
Definitely! I think that is the very essence of artistic endeavor - evolution. In the early years of my journey while attending UT Austin in the Fine Art Dept, I was very much taken by
Expressionism. It perfectly suited my thought that art best conveys meaning through
exaggerated line and emotion and must tell a story. I incorporated this notion into my work as much as I could at the time. Now I find the most satisfaction with a gentler touch capturing the beauty in the world around us rather than feeling the need to impart profound meaning. There is still a love of line and process with an emotional connection, sometimes with a story, but it is of a less chaotic variety!

11X14, Acrylic - @zanart01"Abstract Sail" - 11X14, Acrylic - @zanart01

Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?
I would advise exploration and experimentation without concern of the end product. Let the
process be the goal! It has always served to give me a broader understanding of the mediums I use and encouraged freedom in developing new techniques. This leads to another piece of advice that I learned the hard way and often share with my students – Its’s ok to embrace your perfectionism, but as a tool, not a goal!

What are you working on right now and why?
I am revisiting some of the paintings I had set aside unfinished, usually from a demo, with a new purpose in their completion. Without the constraints I place on myself for a work created with class in mind, I can tweak them to my heart’s content! This is extremely satisfying and also allows me to address the circumstances of the challenging times that have motivated me to spend as much time marketing my work for potential collectors as for my classes.

What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?
A few years ago, my Mom gave me an age stained, well-worn drawing of a cow that I did when I was 6years old. She’s trotting away - udders, spots and all. I have no idea if I was proud, I wouldn’t have known at the time how unusual my depiction was for a child of that age, but I am sure I had joy in the drawing of it. I have it hanging in my bathroom – it makes me smile for many reasons now!

12x16 Acrylic - @zanart01"Amalfi Coast Dwellings" - 12X16, Acrylic - @zanart01

Do you take commissions? Why or why not?
On occasion. I have taken many in the past and have always enjoyed “bartering” as well, but it is not currently my focus...

What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)?
I am fortunate in that my artwork is an intricate part of my life through my business ZanArt, but I am also an avid gardener. Of course, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, but I am seldom not involved in some type of project that involves my artistic side – after all color, texture and design permeates so much in our lives.

How do you overcome art blocks?
Sometimes all it takes is allowing myself to take a break without guilt! I have seldom gone for
very long without at least engaging the creative side of my brain in some manner and that helps me realize that the ability is still there and that will often kick me back into gear... I also find it very useful to ignite my usual thirst for artistic play, even if it’s not present at the moment, by experimenting with a serendipitous medium like alcohol inks - working without regard to an end product can redirect my leaning toward perfectionism and overcome the fear of inadequacy that I think is at the bottom of many of our art blocks – most certainly mine...

11X14, Mixed Media - @zanart01"Floral Fantasy" - 11X14, Mixed Media - @zanart01

Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?
One thing I have learned, especially in these uncertain times, is the future is unpredictable!
However, I hope continued exploration and experimentation will bring me new insights and more joy in my artistic journey.

Is there something that you would like to share with us that we have not covered, that pertains to you and your work?
Yes, I want to give celebration to the invaluable joy and evolution sharing my methods with my students has given me and my work. It is a truism that a teacher learns as much, if not more, from their students as their students learn from them...So, I am extremely grateful and proud to consider myself Artist, Teacher, and Student!

If you have links for your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that you would like to share, please include these addresses below.
I hope you will visit me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Fine Art America and ZanArt Classes to see what's going on in my world. Please feel free to comment there and also share what is going on in your world if you wish.