I have never met Susie personally (for now!) but just by exchanging letters and getting to know her art, I somehow started having that pleasant and quite rare feeling of being on the same wave. We both are passionate sea lovers constantly immersed into the chaos of being mothers to quite a lot of children. We both have to balance our creative lives and family responsibilities on every day basis. Marketing background is quite a coincidence as well! All this, plus loving art, created a wonderful base for a spontaneous and relaxed dialog and a great will to collaborate, as well.
Today I am happy to share some of Susie’s amazing works as well as the answers she kindly gave to several questions of mine.
I hope that the next interview will be a real live conversation “on air”, too!
- “Susie Pearce is an artist of British and Australian descent. Born in 1967 in Dublin, Ireland, she now lives and works in Cornwall in the UK. Her ancestral roots lie in the wildly beautiful Cornish tin and copper mining countryside that she now feels blessed to call home. The rugged, coastal landscape both inspires and informs her work as does her own experience of the human condition. After a successful career in marketing, and having four children, Susie has now turned full time to her first love, which has always been painting. She honed her craft under the expert tutorage of Winsor and Newtonand Liquitex accredited artist, Kim O’Neil, of Paint Modern Art School. Using the highest quality acrylic paints and mediums, she uses innovative techniques and materials to create a myriad of different textures and finishes in her work”. (from http://www.susiepearce.com)
– What does being a real sea lover mean for you?
– Being a true lover of the sea, to me represents a feeling of being at one with the universe.
I get a sense of comfort from the repetition of the waves crashing on the shore, the tide going in and going out. The ebbs and the flows of the sea are something in life that you can totally rely on, something we have no control over, but we know that it is both consistent and relentless.
While life is constantly changing, you know there will be good days and bad days, but it is all transient. People come and people go in the same way that the sea washes up its treasures on the beach, then it pulls them back into this enormous magnitude of currents and whirling turbulence. It reminds me that matter never leaves us, it goes through physical and chemical changes, but through these changes matter is conserved. The same amount of matter exists, none is created or destroyed. So, you might scatter the ashes of lost loved ones into the sea where they will swirl around and become part of the ecosystem. To me, this makes me feel that through the sea, they are still here and I can still feel connected to them.
So, to me, the sea is everything. It is like our life force, turbulent, terrifying, calm, beautiful, gentle…… My work is about powerful, human emotions, viewed through the lens of the elements. The sea is like a mirror, a reflection of our love, our rage, our sense of loss, our sense of hope. It is endless, as is the range of emotions one human being will transition through during their lifetime, and it is formidable, commanding respect and awe. So, for me, the sea really does represent the essence of our existence.
– Three words to describe your art?
– (This is so hard to pin down to only three words!) –
– What’s the most inspires you about the place where you live?
– I am lucky enough to live in the Cornish countryside, where my ancestors came from. My ancestors from Cornwall were tin and copper miners, so they had a deep connection to the earth, it’s minerals and it’s treasures. Tin and copper mining in Cornwall started to become less profitable during the mid 1800’s, so my distant relatives emigrated to Australia where mining was new and prospects were good. This accounts for my Australian heritage on my mother’s side.
Very close to my home is a place called Carn Marth. This is one of the series of ancient hills that run down the backbone of Cornwall and stretch all the way to Lands End, the most south-westerly point in the British Isles. During the Bronze Age these carns attracted settlers because they offered natural places of refuge. From the high point of Carn Marth you can see all the way around from the north coast of Cornwall to the south coast. It is truly a magnificent and very special place. It would have been the perfect site for beacons to warn of impending attack, mark victories and host celebrations of all sorts. To stand on the top of Carn Marth and watch the sunrise or the sunset, with the winds whistling all around you, is one of the most magical experiences I have ever had in terms of connecting to nature and feeling at one with the energy of the universe.
Living here makes me feel very grounded, both in my own personal history and ancestry, but also in terms of feeling connected to the earth and the universe. Being away from the grand metropolis and everything that goes with city life feeds into my art practice in every way imaginable. In Cornwall there seems to be so much sky! I am obsessed with the sky, the cloud formations and the incredible colour transformations. Currently I am working on a series of more abstracted skyscapes. I find it fascinating how the sky, in the same way as the sea, can express and reflect the full range of human emotions, from a beautiful sunrise on a calm day, to a violent storm whipping up everything around it.
My favourite place to be is on a beach, when it is quiet, between the enormity of the sea and the sky. That is when I feel most connected to the universal energy all around us. Living here, by the coast means that I can absorb that magic and channel it directly into my painting. I have no interest in depicting representational images of the coastline, instead I feel a compulsion to try and represent elemental energy, deep, meaningful emotions… seen through the lens of the sea, the sky and the earth.
Somehow I know I am in the perfect place, I am exactly where I need to be. That reflects into my work in the most incredible way, and I feel so lucky.
– Susie, when you start working on a painting, do you know in advance what the result will look like or is it a spontaneous process?
– When I start a painting, I usually have something in mind that I have seen somewhere which has inspired me. It might be photographs I have taken of somewhere near where I live. It could be coastal, sky or landscape – this is where my inspiration comes from. Sometimes I see an image on a media outlet, like television or something on social media which will trigger an idea in my head. I usually have an idea of colours before I start a painting. However, the interesting part is that, to answer your question, no, I never know what it will look like! I find that every time I paint, the work goes through so many different stages of looking so completely different. I paint, then I step back and look. After assessing what works for me and what doesn’t, then I might change it completely! In fact this seems to be a normal part of the process. I often end up with something which looks quite different from my original concept. I find that expectation of outcome hinders me in the creative process. It is not unusual for me to look at a painting which I might have been working on for weeks, and think, no, I’m not happy with it…. Then I will paint over the whole thing, spray it with lots of water while it is still wet, and just let it drip and develop organically. Once it is dry, I can look at it with fresh eyes and see what I think. It is very much a process which happens organically and just keeps on developing, until finally, finally (!) I look and see that it is finished. I will never stop a painting until I am certain that it is right and it is finished. Most of my work has probably hundreds of layers of paint and texture on the canvas. I adore the process, it feels like unearthing something from deep within…. Like the painting finally emerges. If I have even the slightest doubt about the result, then it is not finished, and I will keep changing and adapting it. So, yes, I would say it is a spontaneous process really – just one that goes on and on until I get this feeling that yes, it is done.
– What does the creative process of Susie Pearce looks like? Do you think a lot before starting a painting or is it an instant urge that you follow? Do you need to be completely undisturbed in order to work or does art make part of your normal everyday life and you are more flexible on it?
– I think I talked quite a bit about my creative process in the previous answer. My paintings are always very much about how I am feeling. I will think about different techniques I want to try before I start, as well as certain colour combinations, but basically I would say that my painting is very instinctual, not planned out in advance. Every time I try and plan it out, it ends up looking totally different!
I find the process itself extremely meditative and a wonderful way to block out all the noise of everyday life. I find myself not thinking, just doing. That is what many would describe as being ‘in the zone’. It is, for me, like a processing time. I think my conscious mind switches off and my unconscious mind takes over. This enables the emotional energy to be expressed on the canvas. I also find that my conscious mind wanders and I am able to process surpressed emotions through the painting process itself. Difficult life events have definitely helped shape my painting practice. Someone very important to me once said “Your gift is the darkness”. I find this to be so true and I have it written on my studio wall.
I definitely work best on my own, without anyone there chatting to me for instance. The process is totally consuming and that time feels very precious to me. I don’t mind the odd interruption, which is inevitable as a single mother to four boys. I listen to music while I am working which I find really energising. I find my painting fits in very well around everyday life, as I often paint in the evenings or late at night.
Proud to inform you that MATRIARCH and RESILIENCE paintings by Susie Pearce are currently available on https://www.controforma.it/!
All images courtesy of Susie Pearce, for giuliakascina.com
All rights reserved.
Cover image: ALL AT SEA I