“Sometimes I allow the power of … images to speak for themselves through color and texture. Other times I am more interested in putting recognizable images onto canvas, and that is when I head outdoors and record impressions of what I see. The result I am aiming for is an image that says something powerful but that is painted in the most economical way. This is probably where I feel the happiest and most challenged as an artist.” ~ Susan M. Rose
Teton Valley artist Susan M. Rose has said that the “act of creating brings balance to [her] life and allows her to enjoy the abundance of nature.”
Translating our three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface is where the magic happens for her, Rose has written. And of course, once her paint is on each canvas, that two-dimensional canvas expands and becomes its own macrocosm.
Whether she is painting en plein air or working from memory and photographs in her studio, recreating the atmosphere of places she loves, many of which are just outside her Victor, Idaho back door–is what Susan Rose strives to do. And few in our area are as successful as she.
While we’ve been focused on the ills of the world, Rose has been fighting, bravely and gracefully, her own private battle. Months ago, she received a devastating diagnosis: metastatic lung cancer.
Unable to paint for many weeks while she traveled to hospitals and treatment centers, Rose recently returned to her studio and the outdoors. Though her prognosis is uncertain, she has, through the better part of a year, been celebrating the life she shares with her family, continued to contribute to her community and reveled in the love she has for painting and her fellow artists.
“My art has always been about finding balance and balancing out the rest of the noise in my life. With this new diagnosis I couldn’t keep up my formerly intense routine of painting eight hours a day, up to six days a week. I had to make peace with that, accept a more compact schedule, turn out the noise of politics and Covid, and the physical pain I am dealing with,” said Rose in a recent phone conversation.
“I decided to surrender to that, and there’s a certain amount of surrender to having this diagnosis. That’s part of what I am doing with these paintings.
The word “balance” kept returning to me. It’s all about that word. The fall paintings in this show are a continuation of a series of winter paintings I’ve worked on—there is a lot of “noisy” subject matter I love, the tangled bushes and grasses. But they are balanced by quiet spaces. I’m looking at what to leave in, what to take out. I usually have a very clear idea of the direction I want to go in with a painting, but sometimes I surrender to an intervening intuitive process. And that’s a serendipitous moment, when art magic happens. And I don’t listen to music while I paint, as many artists do; I don’t hear it, I’m so in the flow of my work.”
Now through January 31st, 2021, a selection of new and recent paintings by Susan M. Rose, “Fall Into Winter,” is on exhibition at the City Center in Driggs. In lieu of a public opening, all of Rose’s works are available for sale online. At her request, sales help benefit the Downtown Driggs Association and the Teton Regional Land Trust. A portion of sales will also help offset sizable medical bills.
Across Idaho and Wyoming, Rose’s colleagues are thinking about her and sending their thoughts about Rose and her work. Influencing many with her intelligence and egalitarian nature, befriending all with her winning smile and ability to share, she is also an artist whose painting style is immediately recognizable and sought after by collectors.
“I first met Susan at Trio Fine Art in Jackson. She came by one day and introduced herself – we (the artists at Trio) had been working with the Jackson Hole Land Trust on the View 22 project, raising funds to preserve open lands. Susan was working on a similar project in Michigan,” recalls Jackson artist Jennifer Hoffman Gessler.
“I liked her enthusiasm and passion from the minute I met her. Each time she returned to Jackson, she would stop by the gallery to see what we had on the wall and to chat some more. I always looked forward to those visits. We once did demos at a Wyoming Artists’ Association event, and I had a hard time concentrating on mine because I just wanted to go watch Susan paint.
Her paintings are always recognizable by her sensitive brushwork and the poetic distillation of the landscapes she depicts. You can see how she is drawn to intimate moments of light or pattern or color – and she draws the viewer right into her vision.”
Charmian McLellan is a Wyoming artist and former workshop student of Rose’s who has gleaned invaluable knowledge from studying with the artist. She considers Rose to be that rare artist that not only does, but imparts.
“If I come away from an art workshop with just one thing that will stay with me and help me to improve my painting skills, then it’s all worthwhile. How rich I felt when, after studying with Susan, I emerged inspired by her teaching. She is always ultra-organized, generous with her time and materials, diligent about helping each and every class participant, and her painting critiques are spot-on. Not only is she a fabulous artist, but she is a talented, dedicated and valued instructor as well,” says McLellan in her praise.
Rose is a valued National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA) participating “Plein Air Fest, Etc.” artist. The annual fundraising event grows funding for the Jackson museum’s arts education programming. Rose’s paintings always sell at this much-anticipated event, and that is surely due to the obvious skill with which she captures the valley scene before her.
“The first year of Driggs Plein Air her paintings stood out to me,” Fox says. “Susan painted a scene of the Elk Refuge irrigation sprinklers, and it just looked great. She has such a wonderful eye for noticing something wonderful and then making it shine through her intentional and colorful brushwork.”
A couple of years ago, someone challenged me to list my top 25 favorite paintings of that year… maybe I should do that again,’ he commented on the post. ‘If so, the piece in the middle would be on my list for 2019 (or maybe the one below it…tough choice).
“I am not a fan of winter, but I certainly am a fan of Susan’s paintings,” writes Jones.
“I don’t recall the first time I met Susan, but I know it was out painting. She was smart, warm and curiously regal–the kind of person you immediately take note of,” writes painter Erin C. O’Connor. “In all the years we’ve been crossing paths, whether at a show or gatherings or simply by chance, she has held true to that first impression. And WOW, can Susan paint! Gorgeous sweeps of color, confident brush strokes. Skillfully drawn subject matter. There is something in her work that, like Susan herself, is undeniable.
Susan, you create so much more than paintings. You have created a heartfelt wealth of friends, and we carry your smile within ourselves each day. Keep creating. Keep manifesting. We’re so grateful for you.”
“The light, vibrancy and exuberance of Susan’s artwork is only eclipsed by that which she carries in her soul and spirit. Like her paintings, her ready smile refreshes and brightens any environment. The spontaneity, immediacy and freshness of her brushstrokes speaks of a soul attuned to and in step with the dance of the Natural World. It’s hard to tell sometimes where Susan ends and her paintings begin – but the World, and all of us who call her friend and peer, are all the better for both!”
And, from friend, neighbor and fellow artist Scott Christensen:
“Your beautiful mind has tirelessly uncovered inspired visions for the art on these walls. The artistic gifts that occupy your soul are very much your own.
It has been fantastic to see how awake you have become in the spirit of these stunning unique pieces. As artists the difficult part is learning to see beyond the surface of an idea to really try to portray what makes us feel alive. These works you have given us show this precisely. Beautifully done Susan!
Thank you for what you do for the artistic vision of this valley, and your engaging personality that moves us always toward a spirit of life, love and giving, from your friend, Scott.”
That TALENT! Rose’s light and incredibly fresh take on our landscapes jumped off the page. Her ability to present what we instantly recognize, all the while flirting with abstraction and painting fully impressionistically, is singular. She created an entirely new palette. We embarked on a Facebook conversation, and what a joy it was to meet her on that sparkling, blustery day above the National Elk Refuge. I know I speak for many when I say to Susan, “I wish I could be just like you!”
View, and please purchase, Rose’s “Fall into Winter” exhibition and sale works here. Your support helps offset medical bills and contributes to the Driggs Downtown Association and Teton Valley Regional Land Trust, two of Rose’s favorite non-profits.