Susan Underwood 

Susan is open to inspiration from various sources and paths to finished work can follow from things she sees when she’s out and about, an image in a book or magazine, an exhibition or from an idea which comes to her when she is thinking quietly. Her work comes about through practice and sometimes the materials she is using influence her intentions. She often sketches out ideas in pastel first and might discard up to twelve trials at a finished piece. She used to always work flat on table, then found that she could really get the brush to flow over the page when using an easel.

She attended classes at the Carlton Centre where she was encouraged to look at books to find images to use as a basis for drawings. This provided a useful starting point for her and allowed her to realise through initially making literal representations, that she could progress more naturally in her own direction. She felt she wanted to try and breathe a little life into her pictures and produce something  which has the essence of the apple or whatever subject matter she is depicting. She likens her method of using paint to working in sculpture. It feels to her that she is moving the image with the paint; and when creating a form, she is




Susan enjoyed art at school then later in evening classes. Meeting art therapist Karen Huckvale re-ignited the interest and a gentle development of art practice took place. This blossomed at the Carlton Centre some years later with three terms facilitated by Will Smith and Paul Bent. A group exhibition at the Winter Gardens introduced Susan to framing and showing work. Susan has continued under her own direction since then, including attending workshops by Nicki Heenan and Tina Dodd. She has exhibited at the Quarry with the help of Alison Clayton followed by two solo exhibitions at the Blakehay. Aaron from Weston Super Frames has also been a support with his framing advice. The work spans a few recent years and shows the changes in her work

thinking of it three-dimensionally as she paints it and thinking about its environment. While she was painting ‘Daffodils’ for instance, she was thinking about how the wind was moving them very gently and how they were responding. She didn’t paint each individual stalk as it was in the field but created an environment by putting down characteristics of the flowers, the lovely lines and adding the leaves at the end. Learning by experiment and finding solutions for herself to problems or questions that arise, she likes to concentrate on her work in a quiet space. Just sitting and quietly thinking brings out what is within her and ideas will come to her attention which she then creates from her imagination.

When she sees something which could lead to an artwork, it lodges itself in her brain and she feels the need to do something about it. Just sitting quietly, an idea may bring itself to her attention and then she would draw from her imagination using her knowledge of the subject to guide the form of the picture. For example, ‘Taking a Nap’ came about as she was taking nap and the thought of the young lady lying there came to her. She is aware the drawing is not anatomically correct, but she liked the lady’s attitude. In 2016 she decided to draw a red flower and found that in her first couple of sketches she automatically left part of the picture space empty. Wondering to herself why she had done this, she did another drawing filling the page this time, but it didn’t look right because of something to do with the balance of the picture. She will often do things without quite knowing why, just that it instinctively feels like the thing which needs to be done. For instance, in ‘Tree Trunks’ where she took a large flat brush and washed over the upper section of the painting and left it like

that - because it just looked perfectly good to her.

While at the Carlton Centre, she made a painting which involved a winding stairway passing under an archway and climbing up hill through the town. This picture did not reach resolution. Later she decided to give it a second experience. This time she was drawn to placing the steps in a countryside setting. She considered carefully how to create the rocks on either side which became quite dominant and the focus of the picture. She included the arch to show the passage from one location to the other and to mark the ascent. The viewer can visually climb the steps and look down to the trees in the dell below, but where do they lead?...