Susan Fox [NRA 2015-2018]
First name: Susan ;
Middle name: ;
Last name: Fox ;
Member: Non-resident artist member ;
Begin: 2015 ;
End: 2018 ;
I have always been inspired by the natural world, filling dozens of sketchbooks over the years to record wild places and the animals that live there, and then creating paintings and drawings for over twenty years.
I rely on my many years of experience in personal observation, along with sketching and painting in the field and also using photography and video to record what I’ve seen. For me there is no substitute for personally spending time watching my wildlife subjects go about their lives, preferably never knowing that I was there. My paintings begin with observing and recording my subjects during my travels (twelve trips in sixteen years to Mongolia, along with Kenya, Canada, England, Romania and a variety of national parks, wildlife refuges and natural places in the USA).
In the studio, I follow a traditional approach to oil painting, first working out the composition in thumbnail sketches, then doing a preliminary drawing and the value and color studies, all of which inform my finished paintings. My palette is a traditional mix of warm and cool versions of primary and secondary colors and earth colors, with the addition of some specific ones that work well for my particular subject matter. I paint mostly with round brushes, which allow me to make calligraphic marks that recall my past work as a lettering artist.
When deciding on a subject I look for strong design possibilities, good patterns of positive/negative shapes, the quality of light and shadow and, for my animal subjects, interesting gestures, poses and behavior that will help communicate the story I want to tell. All of my work begins with direct experience. I don’t paint any subject, animal or otherwise, that I have not seen myself.
I value not only anatomical accuracy, but also accuracy of behavior and habitat, which leads me to consult as needed with field and conservation biologists. Having had the privilege of exploring wild places the world over, I have profound respect for animals as fellow sentient beings, and I am always striving to communicate that knowledge and experience in my work.
Mongolia, its animals, land and people, has been a subject of particular interest over the years. Mongolia has influenced me deeply and it is natural that elements of that culture should become an integral part of my work. In recent years, instead of the traditional animal in its habitat, a given painting may combine a realistic, vignetted depiction of my subject with a contemporary, expressive background that can include the use of traditional and historic symbols and motifs from Mongolian culture sometimes combining those elements with Bichig, a vertical script, Mongolia’s first written language, which dates back to Chinggis Khan in the 13th century. My background as a graphic designer, calligrapher, and sign-painter all contribute to this incorporation of text and other decorative elements. Though these pieces are less conventionally realistic than much of my work, they are just as truthful in portraying the relationship between the Mongols, their domestic animals and their country’s wildlife, as well as exploring the symbolic and cultural importance of animal imagery.
My enthusiasm for painting and drawing during my forty years in the arts is stronger now than ever, inspired by my desire to record and help conserve the natural world.
Digital-born document number:
Record birth date:
December 23, 2019
Last updated: July 31, 2023 at 17:07 pm