Monday, December 17, 2012

Canvas Chat : Meet the Artist Sky Susan

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing artist Sky Susan Sommer. Sky is a native of Valdosta, Georgia. Being the daughter of a Navy family allowed her to travel rather extensively in her youth. Her travels included: Japan, Korea, China, India, South America, Central America and the Philippines. Her favorite place she’s traveled however is Hawaii. In 2008 Sky moved to Jacksonville with her daughter, Morgan. Sky and her daughter have three dogs: Princess, Coco, Bootsie, and a cat named Mason.

Viewing Sky’s work for the first time was like opening a box of treasures. Her pieces sparkle; each piece is a part of her imagination. Sky’s landscapes include darling details like a bunny or a pair of cardinals. Her landscapes are not what however has caught my attention. I love her Geisha pieces. The bold colors and touches of gold catch my eyes. The attention to details in hair and makeup. There is beauty in the simplicity of them. Sky is very passionate about her painting, and it shows in her work.

During the course of the last year she's had ample time to paint while recovering from knee replacement surgery. Sky has always dreamed of expressing herself through her work and sharing it with others.Sky has a very sweet and down to earth personality It was an absolute joy to interview. Sky and a pleasure to introduce her work to you.

Sorianna Choate: Tell us a little about yourself?

Sky Susan: I retired last year.  I have always wanted to paint and lay in the sun on the beach.  Finally, my dreams are coming true.  Unfortunately last year, I was out walking and jogging and I stepped in a pothole and slammed down on my knees.  This year, I had both knees replaced, ergo I plenty of bed time to paint.

I am a happy person.  I enjoy laying in bed and sipping my first cup of coffee while I watch the sun come up.  I love to have people come over and look at my art work and enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine with me.  I was mainly an accountant, mortgage processor and tax auditor.  It is nice to just lay back and enjoy life.

Sorianna :Despite retiring from your previous career, did you paint before that, or is this a new found talent?

Sky: I painted a long time ago. I took painting lessons for two years from a lady that was teaching oil painting in her basement. I was the worst student in the class. It took me a year to paint my first painting. It was a landscape, that looked like a paint by number piece that someone sat on. My teacher, whose name was Anne, told me the only way to learn how to paint, was to paint a still life. Ergo, everyone in class painted a still life and "POW" everything she been teaching me clicked. I was on my way to painting everything and anything. I joined two local art clubs and we showed at the local malls in Atlanta, GA. I have won a purple  ribbon for "Best in Show," four blue ribbons for first place in oils , ten red second place in oils and numerous white ribbons for honorable mention. I quit painting when I became pregnant  with my daughter in 1988. I picked up my brushes again in 2011 and I still struggling to get my touch back to where I was. I do not like all of my work because I feel I can do so much better.

Sorianna: What inspired you to become an artist?

Sky: The Renaissance Artists, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Da Vinci.  Their works have endured for hundreds of years.

Sorianna: What work do you most enjoying doing?

Sky: I love painting people and animals with oils.  I always like to add a touch of fantasy to my "masterpieces".

Sorianna: You have quite a few Geisha paintings, can you tell me what inspired you to paint them?

Sky: My geisha paintings are a result of living in the Orient for many years. I admire their beauty and talent. There is a mysterious air that belongs to the Geisha. Which is why I and many others are fascinated by them.

Sorianna: How have your travels influenced your painting?

Sky: I do not know how to answer this question. My life has been moving from place to another place. I traveled because my father was in the Navy and then I traveled because of work. It was only when I had my daughter, I settled down.

I have loved the ocean since I was a child. I love to paint water scenes. I have been fascinated by space and the stars, henceforth I paint some strange landscapes and skies. I have read fairy tales, myths, and fantasy since I was a child. I sure wish I could fly.

Comparing the two different lifestyles, I do not think that my travels have a made difference. I am still the same person whether I am swimming in the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean.

Sorianna: What is one thing you have always wished to paint?

Sky: Mermaids and the fish that live in the coral reefs. I love myths, legends, outer space and the ocean. I think the ocean is fascinating.

Sorianna: What’s your favorite art work?

Sky: Botticelli's "Birth of Venus"

Sorianna: Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," why is this your favorite painting?

Sky: Botticelli's works are breathtaking  He brought myth and fantasy to life. There is so much beauty in his work.  The "Birth of Venus" is truly a feast for the eyes.

Sorianna:  It has been said that often we end up painting like those who we idolize, do you feel the same?

Sky: My dream is to paint like Botticelli.  That would be the ultimate goal to achieve.

Sorianna: Do you have any creative rituals or routines you do before you get started working on something?

Sky: No....I just sit down and start painting and see what comes out.  If I do not like it, I will scrape it off and start again.  I will continue until I am happy.

Sorianna: What is your favorite Medium to work in?

Sky: Oil Paint.

Sorianna: Why that Medium?

Sky: Oil paint is more flexible.  You can create a realist apple, person, etc.  My paintings can almost look 3 dimensional.

Sorianna :What role does the artist have in society?

Sky: The farmers feed the body, the teacher's feed the mind.........and the artist feeds the soul.

Sorianna: What is Creativity to you?

Sky: I feel that "being creative" is a recessive gene.  How do you stop being creative?  Everything I see or hear gives me an idea for a painting.  I express my self with paint and canvas.  My mother made beautiful jewelry and ceramics and my grandmum crocheted beautiful doilies and hats, etc

Sorianna: Creativity you said can be found anywhere and in anything, is your daughter also creative?

Sky: My daughter has a special god given gift.  She has a beautiful voice.  I love to hear her sing.  She write poems and songs.  We use to bake all the time.  She loves to decorate cakes and she has created her own special cupcake batter.  The cupcakes are so moist and delicious that you do not need  She will ask me to draw some type of decorations for her cakes and then she will decorate the cake.  At 23, Morgan has her whole life to discover what her talents are.

Sorianna: What are you doing when you’re not creating?

Sky: I play with my dog.  Princess is the first dog I have ever had. I was a Navy Brat and then my work also required me to travel.  She is a lot of fun and also a lot of work.  But I really love her and it is nice to have a protector.  What (other) hobbies do you have?  I really love flowers.  I enjoy planting and watering them.  I am not good at it, but I still enjoy trying.  Roses are my favorite flower.

Sorianna: Roses are beautiful flowers, what about them makes you love them most

Sky: I was born in June.  Roses are the flower for June.  I love the fragance and the beauty of those velvet petals.  Roses just make you say "ahhhh".Also, my Great Aunt and Grandmother on my father's side lived in Washington D.C.  They each had beautiful rose gardens in their backyards.  I remember one spring when I was about 7 or 8 we flew in to see my grandmother Robey.  She and my great aunt had a tea party for us in my great aunt's garden.  We were sitting on white wrought iron chairs having tea with sugar from dainty white cups with roses painted on them; while my aunt would tell me about the different types of roses that were surrounding us.  The air was filled with the pungent  smell of roses..........I can still remember think the smell was as sweet as the tea I  was drinking.

Sorianna: What is the most rewarding part of being an artist for you?

Sky:The most rewarding part of being an artist is to put my feelings , heart, soul, blood and sweat into a piece. The hardest part of painting is to let someone else buy it. I feel that each one of my works have a piece of me in there.

Sorianna: What are you trying to communicate with your art?

Sky: A smile.  When you see my paintings you should feel something inside that makes you smile.  "The Arts" give you something that enhances who you are and inspires you to go forward in the world and see all the beauty that is there.

Sorianna: Do you have any advice to give the many aspiring artists out there?

Sky: Enjoy what you are doing!  If you are having trouble drawing or painting, then find someone who will help you draw, paint, sculpt, whatever.  We are always learning and should be willing to try something new.

If you would like to see or purchase Sky's paintings you can visit her at Art Walk in Downtown Jacksonville. Art walk is the first Wednesday of every month

Sky's Dog Princess
All artworks displayed in the in this piece are property of Sky Susan and have been share with her expressed permission.

Written by Sorianna Choate
Edited by Colleen Campbell
Special Thanks to Grace Roselynn

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