Why does the ground look the way it does? How do you push such energy onto canvas? ~ Susan M. Rose
At age four, Susan M. Rose knew she wanted to be an artist.
How many four-year-olds hear such a clear calling? Children require family and teacher support that encourages their free exploration. A child of artists and educators, Rose is a successful plein air painter with work in high demand. Frequently invited to be a demonstrating artist, she most recently appeared at the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s “Plein Air Fest, Etc.” Later this month she participates in the Driggs Plein Air Festival.
“It was seeing Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ for the first time that was the lightning bolt for me,” says Rose. “My parents knew the importance of an arts education, and I was supported from the start. Passing on that kind of knowledge is critical. We don’t exist in a vacuum. I love being an on-site artist and sharing what I do with others.”
Always an outdoor enthusiast—she says she told her then future husband that if he wanted to sign on with her it meant signing on for fishing, hiking and a lot of time painting—Rose enjoyed traveling around the country in the family camper every summer, for a full nine weeks! Originally from Michigan, she reports that every summer her traveling brood stopped in the Grand Teton National Park area to spend some time. The park, as well as Teton Valley and the greater Yellowstone region, began to feel like a second home.
Now, as an adult, it is Rose’s primary home.
Long represented by Grand Rapids, Michigan LaFontsee Galleries, Rose continues to ship paintings to her home state. Though her studio is filled with recently completed paintings she can’t keep up with demand. Rose’s aesthetic includes the love of Michigan’s windswept shorelines as well as Wyoming and Idaho’s scrubby, wild landscapes–each brushstroke is a “connection to the world around her.” In her practice, Rose generously contributes time and artwork to conservation institutions such as the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, the Teton Regional Land Trust and the Jackson Hole Land Trust. A series of snow scenes from this past winter were spurred by a Land Trust Wyoview assignment: paint a property in each of the four seasons.
“The property I was assigned was Karns Meadow, and I went out to paint after one of the first snowfalls. I was attracted to the intense color and light of the fresh fallen snow. The lighting was dramatic. ‘Resounding’ is the manifestation of a morning of crisp, cold mountain sunshine, and hoar frost across Teton Valley. Looking out our back porch I felt compelled to paint the warmly lighted sunlit snow on the shrub that contrasted so powerfully with its cool shadows.”
Rose’s brushstrokes, compositions and use of color and light run the gamut from soft and almost imperceptible, to emphatic and energized. She labels her painting style as impressionistic Realism; just as the founding Impressionists, she aspires to take viewers on emotional journeys. When she paints large-scale, her subjects become more abstract; these works, she notes, are based more on sense memory than immediate impact.
And there is music in the land. In the world of aptitudes, a fine sense of rhythm and ability to decipher between small shifts in pitch are profoundly connected to the
knack of discerning small changes in color values. Organic shapes are free and irregular; simultaneously abstract and realistic. Rose is looking for the underlying melody of the scene before her. Painting is making music with a brush; music is creating a painting with sound.
“All over the valley there are beautiful areas to paint. Fox Creek, the Big Hole Mountains and the Teton River, which is the life blood of this place,” says Rose. “But I’ve found some of the most special places along the road near my house, in my back yard, and in Karns Meadows. The most beautiful winter scenes are right on the State Line road. Wherever I go, it’s about being connected to the area and my love of earth science. Why does the ground look the way it does? How do you transform a three-dimensional entity to a two-dimensional surface? How do you push such energy onto canvas?”
Rose is represented at The Local Galleria in Driggs, Idaho. She next appears at the Lynn Thomas Memorial Art Show in conjunction with the Sublette County Fair in Big Piney, Wyoming. Contact her at [email protected]. To see all of Rose’s upcoming events and artworks, visit www.susanmrosefineart.com
NEXT WEEK: ART FAIRS DISCUSSION!