Residing in the shadow of the National Park, Susan is realizing her lifelong dream of living and working in the Great Smoky Mountains whose quiet beauty is her inspiration. The name Mountainbird Studio honors the flying palette of color and song she enjoys daily…a gift from some thirty varieties of birds who allow her to share their sanctuary.
While growing up in Memphis she expressed an early interest in art, winning numerous Gold Keys in the National Scholastic Art Awards competition. After studying privately with Beverly Bowden Templeton for two years she was accepted to study with noted Memphis portrait painter Billy Price Carroll with whom she spent three years learning composition, color and technique. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art History from the University of Memphis she began exhibiting and selling her work.
Upon moving to Nashville she continued her studies with clay sculptor Lena Lucas and rediscovered her love of “playing in the mud” creating emotionally expressive figures which were featured in exhibition at the Centennial Art Center and she was selected for membership in the Nashville Artists Guild.
Susan has traveled throughout Europe studying the masters in museums and has always been particularly influenced by the Impressionists. Spending quiet time at Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny on a cool, drizzly May morning was an unforgettable experience for her: that special grey-pink quality of light mirrored the misty atmosphere he captured so masterfully on his canvas.
Due to the strong influence of the Impressionists, Susan describes her painting style as a kind of soft impressionistic realism. She employs lost and found edges sculpting with paint and capturing light as it reflects the soul of her subject…..in the tilt of the head, the expression of the hands, the sparkle in the
eyes, Spending time with her subjects enables her to capture the energy and spirit of the individual on canvas.
Her work is displayed in collections throughout the country. A member of the Portrait Society of America, the Cecelia Beaux Forum, the Townsend Artisan Guild and Fine Arts Blount, she is listed in Who’s Who of American Women and in Who’s Who in America.
She continues to work in various media exploring diverse subject matter and her sense of humor occasionally leaps unbidden into her work. Susan can usually be found along with her husband Tony practicing the Fine Art of Fly Fishing in the
trout streams of the National Park when she is not working in her studio.
I’m told that I was born with a crayon in my left hand so my folks must have been thrilled when I finally graduated from walls to paper. I grew up drawing everything I saw around me and developed a love for all living things, always chasing the light and color that envelops them. Things that are truly alive captivate me and the best way I can explore and discover their true nature is by expressing what I see and feel through whatever medium seems appropriate to capture their energy and spirit. To echo the words of Marc Chagall…”I work in whatever medium likes me at the time”.
Curiosity and close examination of my subjects turn most of my work into portraiture whether I am drawing, painting, or sculpting. The world of humans, animals and their environment at once amuses, fascinates, and humbles me and I can easily get lost in the sensuous flow of the natural world that surrounds me in these mountains.