January 2016 Artist of the Month | Susan Brandsema

Congratulations to our January Artist of the Month, Susan Brandsema! Susan was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! Her painting Almost Home is below. Read more about how the artist how nature, photography and family all inspire her equally!

Babylon, Long Island, NY ~ rsbabylon.fineartstudioonline.com

Almost Home

Almost Home (oil, 11×14) by Susan Brandsema

My artistic journey began when I was four-years-old, in a home filled with framed illustrations by my grandfather, Joseph Franke. One morning, upon discovering one of my mom’s paintings, I decided to “help paint” even though I barely reached the easel. With the touch of my fingers in the fresh piles of oil paint, I “painted”, while imagining myself as an artist, marking the beginning of a lifetime passion to create.

Flashes of lightning and the sound of distant thunder, combined with torrential rain pummeling the windshield, inspired Almost Home. The electric sky was luminous and created the misty reflections on the bridge, the roadway and the windshield, which were so interesting to paint.

Most of my work begins with late afternoon plein air sketches and color studies. Nature provides an ever-changing source of inspiration, with pristine untouched woods, snowy mountains, city streets or quiet streams. When working in my studio, I keep a window open and I love to listen to instrumental music. I also enjoy the company, conversation and creativity of friends and family who occasionally paint with me.

My plein air and studio palettes are arranged the same way, starting with titanium white, then adding both cool and warm yellows (cadmium lemon and cadmium yellow deep), reds (alizarin crimson and cadmium red), greens (viridian and sap green) and blues (cobalt blue dark and ultramarine).

A small plein air painting or study can be finished in just one day. Sometimes, if the light and weather conditions are similar, I will continue a plein air painting for several days at the same location. According to the size and detail of the painting, I will then take it into my studio and continue to work, letting each layer dry before adding to the next.

The difficulty faced with Almost Home was that it was primarily painted from my photograph. After painting the bridge perspective, the roadway and the vehicles, the challenge was painting the raindrops on the windshield. This was accomplished by spraying droplets of water onto a pane of glass and painting the drops from this observation, into the dry painting.

My future plans are to continue painting and drawing every day—in the studio and plein air—and to seek the inspiration provided by nature that brings energizing and endless possibilities for a new canvas.

Painting in nature inspires me to observe the amazing minute-by-minute changes in light, weather conditions, seasons and temperature. My goal with each painting is to choose a focal point, then use color and paint strokes that convey the light, charm and emotions unique to just one moment in time.

I am thankful that my husband, family and friends are supportive of my art career. Many of my plein air studies and paintings are painted at the 80-acre home and property of one of my relatives, and I am grateful that they welcome me to spend days at a time painting there.

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