Thursday, September 03, 2015

Do you like irony?

Do you like irony? I do, even if I'm the facilitator. Irony is good for many laughs... often at myself, I've found.

Yesterday, I did a demonstration for whoever was willing to come to the gallery where I teach my weekly class. Wanting to have everyone leave with something of substance in their hands, I typed up my landscape painting tips the night before. Prominent among the statements was "EVERYTHING has perspective... roads, buildings, trees..." and I even pointed out examples of perspective in my reference photo. (I had graciously given everyone a copy of the photo so they could follow the process.)

I happily threw around color and shapes and did a little re-composing for a better composition. Basking in the compliments, I smugly packed the painting away and deposited it in my home studio. Overnight, the art gremlins attacked it and when I removed it from the box, I wondered what that hump in the middle was with that impossibly large tree!

It seemed, I had completely forgotten my own advice and didn't evaluate the location of that tree in perspective compared to the rest of the painting.  Eke! And I was supposed to be the expert that knew "EVERYTHING has perspective".

Getting to work, I decided to implement another rule I espouse. "When you correct something, you always have more than one choice of what to do." Here, I could have reduced the size of the tree, but I liked the way it divided the canvas and became a nice focal point. Alternately, I could make adjustments that would pull that hill forward so the tree was the right size. I chose the latter, adding another, larger tree and still chuckling at my short-sightedness. LOL.

"One More Tree"   14" x 18"    Oil

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making It Work

"Alongside the Columbia" - Oil - 11" x 14"

"Come spend your life with me. The best is yet to be." 

"My husband and I have been married for 49 years. He is all science and exercise and I am all art and exercise avoidance. Yet, mostly to his credit, it works.

As part of our travels, and thanks to a roomy van, he often takes his bicycle and I have all the painting equipment I want. Whether we join other cyclists or artists, both of us are happy. I drop him off at the beginning of the ride and meet him 4 or more hours later with a wet painting in my storage box and a big smile on my face.

Artists take heart. You can make it work!" --- SFG

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

"Edge of the Storm" - Oil - Pre-2006

"I recently re-organized the photos of my work on my computer. Many go back to before 1998 when I had my first digital camera.

Gradually, while doing this, I realized that, with a few exceptions, all that work – the immense time, effort, and material it consumed – was merely preparation for the work I am doing now. Sure, I will still produce work what will be clunkers to me, but I am much more often satisfied with my current work.

The reasons are somewhat nebulous. The brush strokes may be more confident. The paint may be thicker. The subjects may be more interesting. The composition may be better balanced. Or, in the end, they just may be better executed and look like a mature artist did it.

Doubt assaults all artists from time to time, but we celebrate when we find reason to go on. So we push on. We do it all because it feeds our spirits in a way the viewer can never imagine." --- SFG

"Fire on the Prairie"   2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

When Does a Painting Take Thirty Years to Paint?

"The Dance"  -- 12" x 16" -- Oil

I took a photo of this dancer at a performance at our local mall in the 1980's. I loved the dynamic subject and flashing color. Despite my enthusiasm, I couldn't bring myself to attempt it, so the photo sat in my files all those years. Occasionally, I'd run across it, admire it, and return it to the box. I wasn't ready. As many classes I've attended, as many fabulous instructors I've had, as many outstanding artists I "talked art" with... I simply wasn't ready. 

I was intimidated by the drawing of the figure. I wasn't sure of the composition. I did not have a good understanding of edges. I was unsure of my brushwork and I didn't know how to make it mine. I wasn't ready.

In the last couple of years, I've done quite a bit of experimenting. Playing with mixing and applying the paint differently. Destroying and re-establishing edges. Throwing color around with abandon. Diving into a timidly painted piece and making it a success. Not only has my work improved, in my opinion, but I discovered how to solve many problems in different ways. And, most importantly, I became more adventurous and confident.

After 30 years, I WAS READY.

My Work Is Now Available On

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

On the Clock

"On the Clock" - Oil - 11" x 14"

If you have been following my Facebook page, you have seen a lot of my new work lately. My plan is to continue putting work on Facebook and then elaborate more on them here, with information directed more to artists and those interested in the painting process itself.

I worked on some unfinished portraits today. Last week our figure painting group wanted to do a reclining figure, so this model had light work. I titled it "On the Clock" (11" x 14") since he was paid to snooze. Ha! The unusual perspective was fun.

Here, I was using my limited palette which consists of Daniel Smith Mixed White, Winsor Newton Cadmiun Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue. I choose to use this limited palette when painting away from my studio to lighten my equipment. 

I work in several different ways. In this approach, I start with the features and build the composition out as time allows, rather than determining a fixed composition at the beginning. I stop when the session is over or, more importantly, when the composition is in balance. It's one of those "you'll know when it happens" things.

fine art, oil painting, original painting, Susan Greaves, art collector, art collecting, artist, fine artist, art instruction, Susan F. Greaves, impressionism, impressionist, painting instruction

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

In the class today at O Street Gallery, I will be showing the work of my mentors, like Sergei Bongart. This work of mine shows the influence of the Russian Impressionists, like Maliavin. Curious? Google him.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I discovered the exquisitely simple and purely colored paintings of Carol Marine on eBay. I must confess that I suffered a bout of jealousy, since she was selling far more consistently than I was. Her small delights brought in more bucks, too.

Convincing myself that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, I bought a supply of 6” x 6” canvases and set up an arrangement of cherries and a blue teapot and had at it. In fact, I “had at it” quite a few times. Somehow the colors were never as clean, the planes were not as well thought-out, the drawing was not as precise, and a number of other qualities were missing. I soon returned to painting my own subject matter, my way.

Still not satisfied, and after studying the work of many artists, I have finally fallen into a method more suited to me. It seems to reflect the way I see the world, as complicated and imprecise, as full of the joys of beautiful color and mysterious shadow, as precise and imprecise all at one time. 

And all because I cannot paint like Carol Marine. Thank you, Carol.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wow. It’s been a long time since I posted to this blog. I have been happily involved with our daughter’s move, our new granddaughter and her sister, the Christmas joy, preparing for a show that starts soon, a workshop, teaching weekly classes, and a clearance sale of older paintings.  Who said that being 70 would give you time to smell the roses?

Why do I write for a blog anyway? Admittedly, it is a distraction and just a bit time-consuming, especially when I haven’t been smacked in the head with inspiration.

When I think about it, though, writing for a blog is something like teaching. Each topic I select, unless I’ve had that smacked-in-the-head moment, makes me take time to consider it from fresh angles - as a new student, perhaps, would see it -  and then verbalize my thoughts.  I take a few more liberties and assume blog-readers are not first-lesson painters, but you see the point.

The best teachers I have had could hook their course of reasoning onto something the student was already familiar with and describe the concept from that perspective. Bill Reese (William F. Reese) would tell his students that approaching a painting was like decorating a room. You wouldn’t start with the ash tray. You would paint the walls and put the rug down. Correspondingly, you should begin a painting by considering the big shapes that constitute the composition, which is the framework upon which everything else hangs.

When teaching, I’m sometimes surprised that I can come up with those parallels or use terminology that I don’t normally use to clarify what I am trying to get across a student. The same thing happens when I write for my blog. The result is I learn the most.

Thanks, dear readers, for indulging my learning.