Born into six generations of artists, Susan Blackwood grew up surrounded by art. Her childhood influences have remained with her in her journey as an artist and teacher.

  1. What motivates you to paint?

From the time I was a little girl, I would have urgings to create. At first it was drawing with crayons, or making paper creatures, or designing my own knitting patterns. I think it was a release from all the left brain thinking in school. Then as I got older I loved drawing with pencils. By the late 60’s I was hooked on watercolors. Now I paint in oils and watercolors. I look for subjects that jump out and tap me on the shoulder whispering and sometimes shouting “ Paint me, Paint me!” The subject could be anything from people to landscapes to still lives, or interiors. The light dark pattern is the next consideration and creating an emotional impact is my number one consideration. Over all, I look for Informal moments that are tender, touching and up lifting, surrounded by beautiful light and shadows.


  1. How do you balance family life and art?

That is easy, marry an artist. And I did! Howard Friedland. However, even though we both are in the world of art, we still have cooking, cleaning, and all the other aspects of normal living. So those things we share. Howard creates lunch, I create supper. We both wash clothes and clean the house and shop for groceries, etc.…. and we both love to play with our 2 cats and 2 dogs that freely roam our studio and home.

  1. Who influences your work?

Many, many artists have inspired me through my journey as a painter, starting as a little girl with my dad David Swartwout, my mom Betty and my grandpa NR Swartwout. The historic artists that always inspired me are Artists that step out of the box. Impressionist artists from the past: Rembrandt, Joaquin Sorrolla and Rosa Bonheur. Artists in our Current Time: Richard Schmid, Nancy Guzik, Laura Robb, Carolyn Anderson, Mia Bergeron, Susan Lyon, James Crandall, Matt Smith, Casey Bough, Quang Ho, Daniel J. Keys, Joshua Clare and of course, Howard Friedland.

  1. What do you want to instill in your students?

I want my students to go from creating paintings that represent something to creating paintings that express their emotions. This involves changing the values, edges, color temperatures and color harmonies, using concepts to transition toward a focal point. Each painting is a poem that is expressing a small window of life and needs to be as powerful as a poem in moving the viewer’s emotions.

  1. What would you like the viewers of your video to know?

Summer DelightsKnow that regardless of how accomplished an artist is in their artistic journey, putting together a painting is always an exciting challenge. That never changes! Some paintings are not easy to create and some, like magic, paint themselves. Each painting takes you deeper into your unique way of expressing yourself. Just like using any language, sometimes the “ words” are hard to find to express what you want to say….keep pushing and you will find your painting language.  Painting is your universal language and sometimes it is hard to find the right way of expressing it. But keep painting, keep expressing. Life is an illusion filtered through our own eyes and mind. Paint that way. Paint the world the way that you see it and feel it. Paint the world the way that you want others to feel it and be inspired by it. Your paintings will outlive you by generations, give the viewers throughout the ages something to feel and experience.

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