the process of wandering

wandering © susan melrath; 80x24; acrylic on board

there's something about painting on a hard, smooth surface that makes me happy. the first wood panel paintings date back to the 9th century a.d., so this is hardly a new concept. but i've worked on canvas for years and never really "loved" it. i prefer paper, but geez.....the framing costs are ridiculous. wood surfaces can be less expensive and they can take a beating. they do need to be prepared properly - sealed and primed, of course. "wandering" was painted on a hollow core door from home depot and it's a beautiful size for over your sofa or bed! 

a work in progress: "trinity"

it's fun to start a painting...just throw colors around and play...
like running through a dream...anything can happen. explore...try new things. 
no thinking....just doing.

eventually some ideas start to form and i follow. 
choices do have to be made. early on they aren't too important. 
stay in the "unknowing" for as long as possible. 
what is right? 
what needs adjustment? 
how far to go? 

it's a lot like life.    
trinity ©2010

and more shows....

thursday, november 4th will be the opening for "impressions: faces and figures" at the ida culver house, broadview in seattle  from 5 - 7 pm. the art will be on exhibit through march 20, 2011.  there are some amazing artists exhibiting in this show including kelly lyleschris critesgini lawsonkaren hackenberg and ken van der does to name just a few! guitarist julian catford will be playing and there will be hors d'oeuvres and wine served. don't miss this one if you're a fan of figurative work.
here's the flyer...


"chinatown"    watercolor    ©susan melrath
my work is all over the place lately. since i have a finite inventory, this means the walls at home are looking a little bare. great incentive to get some work done!
this piece is part of an exhibition titled, "what makes a city?" opening this wednesday night at the providence marianwood gallery in issaquah, wa. 

i have some figurative work in a group show opening this friday at the maple valley creative arts center including one of the largest figurative paintings i've made at 4' x 4' (below).  the show includes the work of fellow EDGE graduates, Greg Bartol, Debra Calkins, Nikki deRelle, Ren LisGlenda PowersJoan Schlichting, Maggie Stokes and Larkin Van Horn. what will make the show interesting is  diversity - our disciplines include fiber art, collage, woodwork and furniture, photography, metalwork and my humble paintings. the opening should be lots of fun with music and wine tasting.

the happiest color

this piece was in the last issue of “the palette” magazine where christopher schink wrote the following....
"washington state artist, susan melrath creates a warm, quiet image by stylizing her subject into long, flowing shapes filled with subtle, subjective color. she makes no attempt to describe the surrounding space. the geometric background shapes serve only as a contrast to the flowing, curvilinear figures. by gesture, shape and color she conveys her intent. 
we don't know who these people are but we know how they feel. “
when i'm painting, i don't think about the meaning of the color or the meaning of anything, really. i work on a gut level...not in an analytic frame of mind. but when completed, it's always fun to take it apart and find meaning. yellow shines with optimism and happiness, carrying the promise of a positive future. that feels right for this painting, inspired by a photo of my son and me when he was little. 
now you know who those people are!

safe harbor

"birthday" is hanging at the port angeles fine art center as part of the show titled "safe harbor." jake seniuk has once again done an amazing job with this thematic exhibition 
which runs through october 10th.

the show uses port angeles's role as a harbor community to serve as the vehicle for exploring a broader interpretation of shelter and safety. here what was written about and my contribution...

"SUSAN MELRATH’s (Redmond) style of reductive figuration wrests emotion from her subjects with bold volumes of color and pattern rather than with descriptive detail. In the safe harbor of a birthday party, her faceless celebrants are expressions of archetypal roles in the nuclear family. That is not a specific child readying to blow out eight candles on the cake but the embodiment of unconditional acceptance."

why can't i ever write anything that insightful about my work? my husband has been asking for years why there are no faces on my figures and i'm not really sure. now i know - they are expressions of archetypal roles in the nuclear family. so there.


i'm in europe for the month of july. my son and i started in paris where we visited montmartre. i had been there before and made this painting from an old photo i had taken. it was fun to see the building again after having painted it. it had inspired me in some way, but the painting is by no means a simple likeness of that building. it is a separate thing altogether. the shapes may be the only things that remain somewhat true. "all art is abstract art" - who was it that said that?

floral art

"trinity" acrylic on panel susan melrath © 2010

here's a peek at a new piece - one of my largest florals to date, it measures 30" x 80."
and posing in front ins the newest addition to our family! his name is ozzie...i think....we keep changing our minds about that. he came through the evergreen golden retriever rescue - a great organization that places abandoned dogs in loving homes.

Taos Flower

susan melrath©2010

Been in Taos at a painting workshop, "Intensive Studies Seminar" with Katherine Chang Liu, Skip Lawrence, Fran Larson and Christopher Schink. There were about a hundred painters and collage artists gathered to glean knowledge and get feedback from these very experienced eyes. It was good timing for me as I have just begun a new body of work - patterned florals - and I'm very excited about it! The vistas here are grand and the food is remarkable. What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than with a guava leaf margarita, a chile rellenos, and artist friends?

flower painting

i've been away from the studio for a while. my son, nick had spring break and we hung out for a week. then my husband brian took his awesome sales team on a little cruise to cabo san lucas and i tagged along, of course. used to be that i wouldn't paint at all during these spells - just sketchbook stuff. but once again - the iphone brushes app helps to keep the creative juices flowing. i have so much fun with this app - i am oblivious to the passage of time. technically it's not painting, i guess - but when i get back to the studio i have some very interesting ideas to put to canvas. just for fun - here's a movie version.....

illustration friday

illustration friday" is a weekly illustration challenge. a topic is posted every friday and participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation.
this week's word was "dip."

i submitted a little painting i had done of my father in law taking a dip in the pool. i'm looking forward to bringing out the noodles!

hold your horses

THIS is the best art video i've seen in a long time - you're gonna LOVE it. it's a french band (singing in English) called HOLD YOUR HORSES w/ each frame representing them in pose of famous paintings, from Delacroix to Warhol, Caravaggio to Chagall. they must've had so much fun producing it!

seattle dog show

last weekend the seattle kennel club hosted a dog show at qwest field event center. i LOVE dogs. what is it about them? they are honest, loyal, trusting, curious, affectionate, funny, good natured, patient....geez - what's not to love? there are so many amazing breeds and although golden retrievers are my all time favorites, i just loved seeing the little wire haired dachshunds, german shepherd dogs....all of them! i realized that over the years i have made many paintings and drawings of dogs - so i'm posting some here. i know, i know - it looks like the work of seven different artists, right?


magnolia acrylic on paper 12"x18"

i am surrounded by blossoms - cherry, forsythia, daffodil, crocus, rhododendron and magnolia. i can't stop looking. everything is busy bursting with new life. but i can't help but think of death. a neighbor's beautiful, young son has been killed in afghanistan. in my neighborhood yellow ribbons are tied to the flowering trees. death mocks the hopeful innocence of candy pink and yellow buds. if this were my son, i would want it to stop. but i'm the lucky observer. i can feel the hopefulness of rebirth as well as the pain of loss. at a distance, it is bearable.

rest in peace, eric ward.

studio visit

come into my studio and take a look around.....can i get you a cup of coffee?

in the studio....

at home i worked on canvas in the same manner as on my i phone in the brushes app (see previous post), laying down color and pattern without much editing. it's not quite as spontaneous on canvas however, and i could feel myself getting too picky. the beauty of the digital image is that you can "save" at any point, make a copy and continue. it makes it so easy to try anything that comes to mind, knowing that if it doesn't work out you can always go back to the earlier version.

spring flowers

i was playing with my brushes app a few days ago while on the way home from skiing at stevens pass (and no - i wasn't driving!). i admit i have trouble just sitting in the car for long drives and this iphone app has satisfied my need to do SOMETHING productive while en route.

for two hours i just moved around colors and created patterns. i pulled out some tulip shapes in the end. i am so inspired by this unexpected spring weather we're having here in seattle....cherry blossoms, daffodils, forsythia - in february!

i liked what was happening, incorporating all the color and pattern, but in the end simplifying with some big, strong shapes. i have loved flowers since the years my mom spent working as a floral designer. she would come home with green fingertips and smell of cut greens.

just for fun - here is the movie version of the painting.....
why it presents in a horizontal format i will never understand.....

grey gallery

i'm having so much fun seeing all the amazing submissions to grey gallery's 5 x 5 show. there certainly is a lot of talent here in seattle!

paint what i see

i wonder what my work would look like if you plucked me out of my world and plopped me down in another. i respond to my surroundings and the people i come across. when i lived in south florida my work was altogether different, but even today a move there would have a big impact. such strong light that the shadows become shapes of their own. here in the pacific northwest i don't have that problem most of the year! so i can focus on color and not so much on value.

new work

bonnard was once referred to as a chronicler of domesticity. i'm no bonnard, but i can relate to his subject matter....and i try to relate to his use of color as well. fearless man.

more brushes

having fun on my iphone!
the first painting was made in the jiffy lube lobby waiting for my oil change. the lady across the room was knitting as she waited.
the second was just a quick sketch in my front yard as the sun set.
have i told you how much i love my iphone?

"back to the old grind?"

i enjoyed my christmas break...spent time with family & friends, played games, baked cookies, skied, partied - it was great. now it’s monday and the party’s over. but it’s hardly a “grind” to come into my quiet studio, turn on my favorite music, and play with my favorite things. i am so fortunate. i found something i was good at, something i love to do. i have a family who is supportive and encourages me.

now i just need to make a little money!