Today I am thrilled to interview one of my all time favorite artists, Susan Kuznitsky in our Creator Spotlight.
Susan is a nationally recognized and award winning artist living in Portland, Oregon. She has written articles for professional art publications and websites and teaches online and in person workshops and lessons. I adore her use of color and skilled depictions of light!
Jump Ahead To:
Susan got her start in creating art as a freshman in highschool when her mother suggested they attend an art class together at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Navigating the tumultuous and confusing teen years during the Vietnam War era, and all the social upheaval of those times, finding a home with creating art was a guiding light for her.
Having direct access to the Art Institute of Chicago was a huge influence, as they have a large collection of Mary Cassatt, Degas and other fine impressionists in their permanent collections. Susan was able to study these masters up close and often. Her style is very much influenced by the impressionists. She was also able to study with Richard Schmid, another contemporary American Master Oil Painter.
Susan did what I wish I had done: she opted to study in an apprenticeship style learning environment for several years as opposed to attending a college or university! The academic world has been deeply entrenched in the modern conceptual art movement and finding skilled instruction in traditional realistic techniques and traditions just wasn’t possible at the university level. (I totally wasted two years of my life trying to chase down ANY professor who could actually paint or draw in a realistic style). Instead, she was extremely fortunate to become the studio assistant for Albert Handell, long regarded as an American Master of pastel painting.
“Albert not only taught me about pastel painting, he taught me how to teach. I was privledged to walk along side him every day as he walked from student to student while critiqued, helped and taught his students. It was a priceless education!”
Studio vs. Plein Air
Susan is skilled in both areas of creating. Her home studio is a separate building behind her house where she can create undisturbed in peace. However, she firmly believes that artists need to paint outdoors to really learn color and light. “Photos lie, unfortunately, but they do!”
Susan’s color mastery is just gorgeous. I could just bawl when I see her work, the joy of the color is just delicious to the eye.
Here is one of her demo videos as a Art Ambassador for Dick Blick Art Supply Store
Susan has won many awards and exhibited often. Her most recent award was winning Best Of Show, juried by Richard McKinley, in the Pastel Artists of Oregon Competition. Pastel Artists of Oregon is a branch of the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS), a prestigious organization that promotes the fine art of pastel worldwide.
Her work was included in the Pastel Journal Magazine’s 22nd Annual Top 100 Competion. Imagine being selected from thousands of entries from all over the world! Here’s her winning entry:
When asked if she has a favorite subject, the answer is “It doesn’t matter! I look for light!” Just walking around her neighborhood gives her endless inspiration during the ‘golden hour’ of warm afternoon light.
Advice For Artists Starting Out
Susan’s best advice is to purchase quality art materials in a decent amount from the very first. Then find a good teacher. Unfortunately, being a great artist doesn’t mean you can teach it. Susan is a great teacher! I should know, she was my very first pastel teacher. Her teaching was life-changing for me. She doesn’t hold anything back, and will answer any question with tact and thoroughness.
Finding Her Art
Susan takes commissions and her paintings are for sale on her website SusanKuznitsky.com
Check out her youtube videos and consider taking lessons from her with one of her many options for learning!