Artist Spotlight: Susan Larkin

Across the Water November Morning
Across the Water November Morning

Susan Larkin is a landscape painter who makes her home in the Lake Champlain Islands in Vermont.  She works in oil and pastel, and has painted for over 10 years. Susan paints primarily in and around the Champlain Islands, where she lives, with an occasional trip east to the towards Mount Mansfield and the surrounding farmlands and rivers.  Her primary goal is to record impressions of what she sees in the landscape through light and color.

Susan has been displaying her work at the Bryan Gallery since 2008. As of the date of this post she has work in the Land, Light, Water and Air exhibit as well as the legacy gallery. All the images included in this post are available at the Bryan Gallery at the time of this writing.

For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your art?
I guess its kind of an expressive impressionist. I try to paint with not too much detail. I’m trying to get looser, I feel like I’m not as loose as I’d like to be, but I suppose it’s a lot looser than some people’s painting. That’s what I’m more interested in is the impressionistic quality and painterly feel. I stick to landscapes, I don’t usually have any figures in my landscapes and I don’t know why. Most of what I paint is around where I live, the area around the Champlain Islands. Water, sky, fields.

What are your goals in painting what you paint?
My goals are to do more with less. That’s probably been my goal since I started., to simplify, simplify, simplify. At least in terms of the actual painting itself. And what I want paintings to look like. I tend to gravitate to artists who do paint very simply and almost abstractly. I like to learn more about color, I seem to be really interested in how color works and how light works, and trying to teach myself more deeply about color theory. Learning how colors work differently together to create different atmospheric vibrations, things like that. I’ve found that I gravitate to explore more challenges with color.

In your artist statement you mention painting “where the landscape is illuminated by the reflection of the lake”. Can you talk about painting where you feel the light is different versus painting other places.
I used to live on Cape Cod I think when I first took my first trip up Route 2 into the Champlain Islands, I lived in Southern Vermont at the time, its very flat there and there is a brilliance that I remembered from Cape Cod. The ocean just reflects the light all over the place, its very bright, and I remember Van Gogh talking about that when he was painting in France. Where it was so bright it hurt his eyes. It was intense, and that is how I felt about the Cape and then when I went up into the Islands I had that same experience where things seem to be more illuminated. I guess its because of the reflection of light off the lake that there seems to be more of a vibration of atmosphere going on. Its hard to find words for it but I recognized it when I saw it, and that’s what made me want to get up there and live where I live now.
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Welcome to the Bryan Memorial Gallery Blog

Welcome to Bryan Memorial Gallery’s revised and refreshed BLOG, bringing you behind the scenes at the gallery. The more information we provide our artists, patrons, guests and visitors, the more questions they have: about the artists, the artwork, how something was done, where the idea for a show was initiated, and always, what’s next? So my part of this rejuvenated BLOG initiative will take you “back stage” where we put shows together, starting now.

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If you’ve ever been at The Bryan for an Artist’s Roundtable Discussion you’ve heard me say that we couldn’t do it without our “A” Team*. These volunteers install our exhibits and after years of doing so, have it down to a science, although they always welcome new members of the team.

They usually arrive at the gallery on Monday morning before an opening. Within an hour, they have dismantled the prior show in the Main Gallery, brought the artwork for the next show out of the vault and are starting to talk about an approach to hanging the show. Jim and I may offer a few “coach’s tips,” telling them what to expect in terms of the idiosyncrasies of that particular show, but they are off and running quickly.

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An assembly line of measuring, drilling, inserting screws, cables, and tagging is set up in the middle of the room, and by lunchtime, the installation is definitely starting to take shape. The “anchor” pieces are among the first chosen to be installed. Those are usually the paintings in 4 – 6 key locations around which other works are installed. While not all larger pieces are anchors and not all anchors are larger works, more often than not the anchor pieces have been obvious as the work as the works were delivered. Next time you’re at the gallery, look for the anchors.

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