Thursday, May 7, 2009

Q&A: Susan Najarian

Susan Najarian is a very talented painter who captures color and texture in a style that is entirely her own. Since I'm not familiar with the process of painting that she does, I thought it'd be best if she and I did a Q&A. This way we get to see some of her lovely work and hear more from her about her process (and her inspiration!). Scroll down to read the interview and see some of my favorite picks from her etsy shop.

Where do you live?

I live on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Bainbridge is an island in the Puget Sound, just a short, 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle.

You do something called encaustic painting. What does that mean?
Encaustic is from the ancient Greek word that means to heat. The medium consists of beeswax melted with a small amount of resin to impart hardness. This mixture becomes paint when pigment is added to the molten wax. I use the hot wax like paint and I fuse layers of wax to a stable surface using a blow torch or heat gun.

How did you learn the process?
I read a fantastic book called The Art of Encaustic Painting by Joanne Mattera. This book is a great way to learn all about encaustic painting. I then painted and painted with encaustic. (I melted a lot of beeswax at that time.)

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way?

I took a weekend workshop, a few years ago, in Seattle from fellow artist Larry Calkins . He is a fantastic artist as well as a fun and supportive teacher.

Why do you enjoy the medium?
I love the process of encaustics. There is a lot of preparation, which I see as part of the fun. I like all the setup that is needed before you even begin to paint. Also, living here in the gray, damp, Pacific Northwest I like the warm, sweet smelling, medium, (as beeswax warms, there is a sweet smell of honey). Most of all, I like the finished look. Every completed piece has a sensual, tactile quality that invites the viewer to caress the paintings.

Do you have a design in mind before you start painting, or do you let it come to you as you go?

Because working with encaustics requires a definite process, I do have a specific direction as I begin. The medium, however, offers significant room for creativity and much of my work does evolve as I paint.

Where do you find your inspiration?
All of life and nature seems to find its way into my work. Many times I will see something and days later the scene or feeling shows up in a painting. Right now I am inspired by cheerful colors, birds and nature.

Is this your full time work?

I have two full- time jobs right now. Watching my Art grow along with my three, school-aged children keeps me moving fast!

What's the best part of your day?
The early morning! I love the freshness of a new day. It’s like having a new canvas and lots of creative ideas. And…I love that first cup of coffee.

What do you like to do when you're not painting?
I love spending time with my family. Right now it is Spring and that means baseball and softball – I enjoy watching my kids play and grow. Sometimes we are lucky and actually get to sit in the SUN while we watch their games.

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