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In Conversation with Susan Keeble

Susan Keeble is based in the village of Margaretting near Chelmsford in Essex. Coming from a family of artists, she has been painting for as long as she can remember.

Her paintings, whether in watercolour, acrylic or oil display her love of powerful colour and texture. She has a particular affinity with watercolour, as she finds that this medium allows the greatest sensitivity for creating the expressive marks and surfaces she desires.

The drama and excitement of cliffs and seascapes, or sweeping landscapes are what draws her to paint these subjects, seeking to express the energy and emotion of being there, rather than the straightforward view.

Alongside her painting practice, Susan runs several art classes each week, as well as occasionally tutoring local art groups.

Here is our In Conversation when Susan dropped off some new artwork post lockdown ....

Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got started your art career?

My father was a commercial artist, and my older sister went to art school, so it was just natural to be drawing and painting constantly from an early age. I trained and worked as a graphic designer, but after a career break to raise a family I turned to fine art, painting, print making and ceramics.

What do you think influenced your new artwork during lockdown? It’s similar to your watercolour but in Acrylic?

Initially, lockdown brought the privilege of time. Time to concentrate on just ‘doing’ the art, without worrying about the result. I was able to work through the ideas hanging around in my mind without interruptions. The acrylic paint was an alternative way of expressing my ideas, and it brought its own different techniques to my work.

What is it about the Acrylic medium that particularly attracts you to create this new work?

Acrylic paint is very forgiving - I can try out ideas, then paint over them if I change my mind. Also it is a very tough medium, which can be scraped and scratched. My watercolour paintings are full of layering and textures, but that can all be taken a stage further with acrylics.

Can you tell me about your process? How do you go from your initial idea (and how does that come to you) through to the end result?

I don’t usually start out with an idea. When I go into the landscape with my sketchbook I want to feel the atmosphere of the place, and connect with that thing that attracts me to the place, and try to express those observations in my sketches. I do take photos as an aide memoir, but I always paint from my sketches, as those are already an edited view of the place, showing just what is interesting to me, without unimportant details.

I know you like going out for your long walks and taken your book with you, but what’s your favourite part of the process?

The moment when I see what I want to draw and realise how I’m going to express it. Then again once I get home it’s exciting to open a sketchbook and find it bursting with ideas to get me painting.

Nature seems to be a big inspiration behind your work. Do you find you work according to the season?

Obviously it’s always more pleasant to go out in lovely weather, and the sunshine gives the best shadows and contrast, but winter weather can be more dramatic and exciting, as long as I can stay out of the rain.

Are there any little tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years, that would help or inspire budding artists?

Careful observation is really important. Style and technique will come with practice, and you need lots and lots of that too.

What is the highlight of your career so far, or your proudest moment?

That’s not an easy question. I suppose my greatest creation has been my art classes. I feel that a huge amount of my creative energy goes into these, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many lovely people among my students, some of whom have remained good friends. I love the feeling that I have helped and encouraged a lot of people on to their own achievements.

Who is your favourite artist, and why?

Another difficult question – I have so many, and I’m always finding new ones. Sargy Mann, who continued to paint beautiful paintings after becoming blind. Rembrandt for his amazing sensitive pen drawings. David Hockney who never stops inventing new approaches to art (I personally think he might be our greatest living artist). Barbara Hepworth, for her innovative sculpture designs, and sheer physical hard work. Barbara Rae, for such wonderful, breath taking colours, compositions and textures. I could go on.

What is your favourite piece in your collection that is arriving into Wonky Wheel Gallery, and why?

The three acrylic paintings were a record of some sketching trips to my local woods during lockdown, so in a way they stand together in my mind, but if I had to choose I think it would be ‘Radiance’. It represents a fleeting moment, which was hard to capture, but looking at this painting makes me relive the moment.

I would like you to write a short note to your younger self and give them one piece of advice about been an artist (something you have learned along the way or even something they should do, if so why)?

I would definitely say work hard, and listen to but don’t be put off by all the well-meaning advice. Only you can take your ideas in the direction you want to go, so make your decisions and don’t stop.

If you would like to view Susan's full collection available at Wonky Wheel click here

Last Update: 26/06/21

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