Monday, June 11, 2018

“I lived the life I chose to live”… to paraphrase the great thinker Charles Krauthammer.

In 1986, I was chosen as an “Emerging Artist” by American Artist Magazine. At the time, it was the leading art magazine for both artists and collectors in the country, so I was delighted to be chosen from a field of over 1400 artists. It seemed to say that the art world was ready for me. I hoped the recognition would pave the way for my work to be seen and accepted broadly. But, I was not ready for the art world.

As a member of the one-foot-in-the-past-and-one-foot-in-the-future generation of women and fortunate to be able to choose, I set my own priorities. Seeing my children nurtured and successfully launched and sharing a good life with my hard-working and adventurous husband was matched - successfully, I think - with time spent in my beloved studio, growing and learning to be the best painter I could be.

I was fed by recognition of my peers and acknowledgement by friends and collectors. My students offered listening ears and much joy.

After many years and self-scrutiny of my work, I’m convinced that it is nearing its peak. Now, I’m ready for the art world. I can communicate my message and communication is the real purpose of art. Completing that cycle of communication between artist and buyer, when someone comprehends the message and wants to live with it indefinitely, is the culmination of my last 40 years’ effort. 

This is a heartfelt thank you to my collectors. I hope you find my latest work as satisfying as I do. If you have not seen my work recently, visit my Facebook page at (it’s public) and see why I have arrived at this philosophical point.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


The other day, I posted a video of Jim Neighbors singing “The Impossible Dream”, the soaring anthem from Man of la Mancha, and got many responses, most of them from artists. It got me thinking…. Why did it resonate so clearly with those with an artistic bent? 

Aren’t we, as artists, whether painters, musicians, authors, or performers, chasing that “impossible dream”? A dream of perfection? The allure of exceptional beauty? The grace of the best we can give? 

Is excellence our “quest” and art our “star”? Do we see art as a “heavenly cause”? Do we feel a curious peace when our work is its best? And one only need read Kiplings’ poem “When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted” to understand how artists relate to the line, “…lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest.”

Something inspires that “quest to follow that star” to try to do the impossible. Something gives artists courage to persist and keeps our “heart striving upward”.

Perhaps, buried in our subconscious, we connected with the contrast between the bumbling, self-conscious character of Gomer Pyle and the hard-earned ease and magnificent talent of Jim Neighbors’ performance. All artists are faced with uncertainty and doubt, but sometimes, in the midst of the long struggle - and if we are lucky - we feel God take our hand and we create something otherwise unreachable. 

Continue the quest. We will “make the world better for this”.

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.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My Life

"Autumn Vibrations" - Oil - 11" x 14"


Is it exciting? What can I say? The most exciting thing in my life is my art. That's a good thing if you consider that I've been married for nearly 48 years, have two remarkable kids, one wonderful daughter-in-law, one very special granddaughter, plus another grandchild on the way. Now that my adventurous husband is retired, we travel a lot, usually visiting family and friends who, fortunately, are scattered all over the country.

All these things are great blessings and more than I deserve, but they are nothing that makes my life extraordinary. I have the usual too-busy days, frustrating encounters with my computer, and disappointment when the dryer turns my favorite pants into high-waters. But these are not really exciting.

Perhaps all this banality is what lets me ramp up my senses when I step up to my easel. When I'm painting, I have to look, really LOOK, at my subject and take note of its color and texture. I must HEAR the melody of the color relationships and the staccato accents of more intense color and contrast. I must FEEL the way the eye glides over the soft edges or halts at a hard one. (I haven't figured out how to impart SMELL, but I get a somewhat puzzling sense of peace around oil paint.) Two hours of painting can work on me like a visit to a theme park on a six-year-old.

What can I say? It's a great life!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You Merry Christmas

"Pitcher and Poinsettias"      16" x 20"     Oil

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

For a really fantastic year for
GreavesArt and the Good (Art)Works Effort

We have raised 
for worthy causes
this year.

May 2014 bring peace and prosperity to all.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Continuing the series of painting done in Taos....

The weather was outstanding the entire week Alla Prima International spent in Taos, NM. However, one morning was overcast. We stayed near the hotel and I painted from an upstairs balcony. This view was of a neighbor's large tree and the field of purple asters beyond. 

Unfinished painting after plein air session

Evaluating the painting later, I felt the left side beyond the tree was confusing. The light roofs of sheds below the tree slope were not explained well. Further, the fence was incomplete. I decided to extend the road across the canvas behind the tree to unite the left and right side. A little more work on the tree and the fence topped it off.

Finished painting

"Tree and Asters, Taos"   11" x 14"  Oil

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Our Lady of Sorrows" 14" x 11" Oil

Our Lady of Sorrows is located 1.5 miles southeast of downtown Taos on Witt Road. We passed it daily as we returned to the San Geronimo Lodge, our headquarters. Of course, that meant we had to paint it and I did two paintings in its vicinity. This one was from the back of the church looking at a brilliant tree across the street. I counted a total of 7 crosses on the church and in its yard and couldn't resist one more (the one carried by the priest).

Evaluating the painting, which had been smeared as I put another piece into the wet painting storage box, I saw that the shadow on the side of the church was too neutral, giving the area a "dead" look. Also, there was no good center of interest. The tree wasn't enough to pull together the tower of the church and the large tree on the right. The crosses did not stand out enough and the main tree needed more definition. The tree on the right was not substantial enough and the cast shadow from that tree was too dense. Boy, this one was a mess!

Unfinished painting after plein air session

Going to work, I warmed the cast shadow on the side of the church, accounting for lots of reflected light and warmth. I defined the crosses by cooling the shadow side and painting the edges that caught the sunlight. To give the distant tree more substance, I enlarged it and added more brilliant foliage. Using the technique of marbled paint - not-fully-mixed pigments - I worked on the right-had tree and added some branches. Knowing that shadows have light reflected from the sky, I adjusted the overly-dense shadow at the bottom right.

The center of interest was still not strong enough to carry the work, so I added two figures turning the corner as they went to mass. The priest's standard gave me the chance to add another cross. Saved! Appropriate for a painting of a church, I think.

Finished painting

"Our Lady of Sorrows, Taos"   11" x 14"  Oil

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Taos Casita" 11" x 14" Oil

This is one of the first paintings I did on location last month in Taos, New Mexico. Evelyn Boren, a member of Alla Prima International as I am, showed us these charming casitas in downtown Taos. This one had an especially picturesque garden and the morning lighting set it off. I wanted to show the effect of the light on the adobe where the bouncing light intensified one plane and left the color perpendicular to it cooler. The colorful door and window were pleasant, as well.

Unfinished painting after plein air session

I saw, when I evaluated the work later, that there was some confusion in the foreground about what was in light and what was in shadow. (I'm baring my soul here.) I spent some time perking up those flowers and even added dark centers to the sunflowers behind. Just a little work on the door, window, and treetops finished it up.
Finished painting

""Taos Casita"   11" x 14"  Oil

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Bridge to Faith" 11" x 14" Oil

Continuing with the series of paintings started on location in Taos, New Mexico....

After I had finished working on site on "Delivery" (see previous post), the day was heating up and I looked for a shady spot for my next attempt. I found it by the rickety old wooden bridge that lead to the near-ruins of what was once a thriving parish near Taos. I liked the mysterious nature of the building showing beyond this wild cluster of bushes that had grown up in the streambed. The scene had further depth because of the field and mountain beyond the church.

Unfinished painting after plein air session

The first thing I wanted to do, when I was back in the studio and evaluated the work, was to solidify and enlarge the grouping of shrubs, serving almost as a barrier to faithfulness. I used a large brush loaded with dark green and dipped in other pigments as well. The result was a riot of color. I added similar notes to the tree on the left, but subordinated them.

Next, I eliminated the long shadow on the bridge since it combined with the shadows in the streambed and pointed out of the bottom of the canvas. I softened the far edge of the bridge and made the surface cooler like weather-worn timbers gone silvery with age. Then, I repainted a few shadows on the bridge.

I needed just a little correction on the bell tower to finish up.

Finished painting

"Bridge to Faith"   11" x 14"  Oil

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Road to Arroyo Seco"

After our day in Arroyo Seco (see previous post), we wanted to paint one of the scenes we had seen along the road between Taos and Arroyo Seco.

This long view included a stalwart mountain and an ancient house or shed whose near walls had given way and the roof that had partially fallen in. The backlit trees were nearly haloed when we arrived and were further along in their seasonal change. Chamesa and sage dotted the foreground.

Unfinished painting after plein air session

When I returned to the studio, I knew that this painting needed only a bit of work. The top of the structure was the focal point, so I made sure the sunlit boards contrasted well with the dark tones below and the trees nearby. I unified the treetop foliage and boosted the foreground blooms. I added holes the color of whatever was behind the trees and drew in a few more branches. Lastly, I added small color accents like those already in some spots, mostly red or blue, so they were distributed rhythmically around the painting.

Finished painting

"Road to Arroyo Seco"   11" x 14"  Oil


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Old Hotel in Arroyo Seco"

Another day of my recent trip to Taos, New Mexico, we ventured to Arroyo Seco, a quaint hamlet that has colorful shops, cafes, and hotels on the main street and a church and adobes on the lanes to the north. Since this day was pretty warm, we looked for shade first, as I often do. If I'm comfortable, I paint better. I set up my easel just off the main road in the shade of several trees and it as foreground in this view of an old hotel. Its crisp white trim and adobe walls were nicely lit and there were trees on the near side that were morphing into autumn hues.

The first thing I discovered was that I was out of 11" x 14" Raymar canvas panels, but my dear friend Geri Acosta loaned me one of her Gessoboards. The surface of these boards is much more absorbent and the paint won't move around as well as I am used to, so I knew that I had two choices. Either paint broad and thin or paint thick enough to overcome the absorbency problem. I did a little of both. The foreground shadow was painted thinly and the building and trees got a heavier dose.  

Unfinished painting after plein air session

When I looked at the painting back in the studio, I felt the purple shadow was too strong and detracted from the rest of the painting. Additionally, the spot of light within the shadow jumped out too much. The dark accents were not well distributed and the work lacked contrast in the architecture. The tree tops on the left lacked interest and form.
Finished painting

""Old Hotel in Arroyo Seco"   11" x 14"  Oil

Working in the studio, I reinforced the lights and darks. I put darker lines at the eves and clearer and more carefully drawn shadows on the columns, downspout and balustrades. 

I wanted a better "storyline". A storyline is detectable in most strong works and is a line that leads the eye from side to side in the painting. It must not create a painting with two halves, but should traverse in an interesting way, letting the viewer's eye pass over it in places to explore the entire scene. I used this device from right to left along the front of the low adobe wall, by the front and side of the building, and through the shrubs and trees to the right.

I softened the top edges of the trees on the left, changing the value and color slightly to add form. Since the foreground shadow of the tree would have more blue reflection from the sky the farther it went from the base of the tree, I used that to temper the strong purple. Lastly, I darkened the light spot in the front shadow so it no longer grabbed the eye.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A New Series

Hi everyone. I've had a break and am happy to have something new to offer.

I have been painting on location more this fall, in Taos with Alla Prima International, and elsewhere, so I have a pile of partly finished paintings. I thought it might interest you to see the changes I make as I take a fresh look at the works and make changes to improve and complete the paintings.

To do this, I first look for faults in the composition. All the refinement in the world won't help if the composition is weak. Also, it is easier to make myself make big changes at this stage than after I've labored over its details.

Now, let's look at the first one.

The "Alla Prima Donnas", as Rose Hohenberger dubbed us - it's an all-female group, after all - went to the site of an old mission in Taos on this October day. I set up my easel for the first painting of the day near where we parked with a view of the back of the decaying structure. I was attracted to this tree just screaming its joy in the cooling weather, though only part of the tree was yellow. A single-rail fence marked the boundary for the parking area and a dip was between me and the yellow tree. This dip had tall weeds in shadow close to me and a railing for an unseen deck of the house that was out of the picture on the right. This railing would add structure to that area.

Unfinished painting after plein air session

As I evaluated the composition of the plein air work, I felt there was too strong a diagonal across the piece and decided to counter it, somehow. The yellow tree was painted as it was, with only the branch in its fall color, while the rest was still green. This looked as if the tree was unbalanced and about to topple to the right. The wall of the building had no windows or doors and offered nothing of interest for the viewer. Most of the lines in the composition lead to this building, but why go to a blank wall?

Finished painting

"Delivery" - Oil - 12" x 16"

To reconcile the leaning tree, I moved the calendar forward a bit and painted the entire tree yellow, the left-hand portion in shadow. I darkened the yellow leaves at the top of the painting and softened those edges. Since the big gap in the trees over the building looked improbable, I extended the foliage over that area. 
To describe the dip as a slope, I placed a figure of the correct size for the scale of the distant building as if he were walking up a path. His vertical form also broke that severe diagonal. Lastly, I added a window to the building, giving it more depth and interest.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Promise" 12" x 12" eBay auction ENDS FRIDAY at 6 PM PDT

"Promise" - Oil - 12" x 12"


"Painting these small, square florals has been a special pleasure to me. It is a challenge to give a new take on the subject and express its vitality. Yellow is a special challenge, but I think this one caught the mood and drama of densely grouped blooms.  The blue ceramic jar offered a contrast in texture and one of my favorite interior decorating combinations, yellow and blue. The title, 'Promise', reminds us of the renewal that comes with each spring."  --- SFG

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

"Ghost Ranch Icon"

This auction ends TONIGHT at 6 PM PDT.  Benefits MY STUFF BAGS FOUNDATION.

"Ghost Ranch Icon" - Oil - 11" x 14"

"I felt the weight of responsibility to produce a good painting when I stood where Georgia O'Keeffe painted one of her more famous works. Ghost Ranch is a wondrous setting and these spires are typical of the region's geology. Sunshine and deep blue skies enforced the vivid colors." --- SFG 

Sunday, August 04, 2013

"Sedona Fire"

Some paintings are a little special to the artist. This one fulfilled a goal of having a consistent design throughout the painting, especially in the sky. Auction ends Monday at 6 PM PDT. Benefits MAKE-A-WISH.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to work... "Farmer's Market"

"Farmer's Market" - Oil - 16" x 20"

"It was market day when I visited Carmel. Trucks and vans spilled tons of bright and fresh vegetables on artfully arranged tables and vendors waited for the rush. Vigorous paint application and rioting color make this painting take life. " --- SFG

This is another experiment with paint, color, and texture. We all need to break out of our comfort zones!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Catching Up...

I need to do some catching up, especially if you do not follow my FaceBook page. 

I met my daughter in New York City for my first ever visit. My main goal was the Hispanic Society museum, dominated - rightfully so - by Sorolla's masterpiece murals. Viewing the murals has been on my bucket list for years and one of the reasons for this trip. My daughter and I had a FABULOUS trip! 

(Click on pics to enlarge.)

This painting of Tiffany was on the wall to the right of the scene of the oxen and boats above.

This is the main hall. The paintings above are on the far wall.

There is a separate, huge room for the murals which encircle you.

TIP: Don't go to the museum in hot weather. It is not air-conditioned and they close early on the worst days. We had taken the subway up to the museum, only to be told that they were closing. Had to return the next day in the swelter of a twenty-year-record heat wave. It was 100 degrees and 90% humidity, BUT IT WAS WORTH IT TO SEE THESE MASTERPIECES.

I am VERY CONCERNED about the lack of temperature control for the paintings. I could see crazing when I looked closely. These were first exhibited there in 1909.

Here are some closeups of the murals. This artist was fearless!

One more breath-taking painting in that museum...

Monday, June 24, 2013

DOLLAR AUCTION WEEK: "At the Water's Edge"


Title: "At the Water's Edge"                  
Size: 12" x 16" 



Comment: "I love color, but light against dark or dark against light is essential. This simple floral illustrates the principle beautifully. Lilies are always classic."  --- SFG

Title: "Double Down"                  
Size: 12" x 12" 

Friday, June 21, 2013

DOLLAR AUCTION WEEK: "Mill and Mountain"


Title: "Mill and Mountain"                  
Size: 11" x 14"

"This has always been my favorite painting of McCloud, California, near Mt. Shasta."  -- SFG

Thursday, June 20, 2013

DOLLAR AUCTION WEEK: "Summer Showers, Mt. Shasta"


Comment: "Shasta loses much of its snow in summer, but cloudbursts like this one maintain its drama. If you are familiar with my work, you know that I am often painting an atmospheric effect, along with the obvious subject."  --- SFG

Title: "Summer Showers, Mt. Shasta"                  
Size: 24" x 24"