Jewel Box

Jewel Box - Susan Skuse - 2015 Oil on canvas mounted on board 4x panels 30x80 cms
Jewel Box – Susan Skuse – 2015
Oil on canvas mounted on board
4x panels 30×80 cms

Jewel Box is another in the series of paintings I have been doing of Mudgeeraba Creek. I was walking along the edge of the creek one day when I noticed a shaft of light coming in between the tree branches and lighting up the stones on the floor of the creek with a golden glow. The richness of the reflections of leaves and branches, and the shapes and colours of the underlying rocks seemed to create a complicated sort of Rococco pattern; not a collection of mundane objects, but a secret cache of precious things. That’s why I’ve called the work ‘Jewel Box’.

Three Views of Mudgeeraba Creek

three views 1three views 3three views 2

Three views of Mudgeeraba Creek – 3x panels oil on canvas, mounted on board, 40x80cms each, overall 120×80 approx. Susan Skuse 2015.

I came up with this work as part of my Fine Arts Degree work and finished it up for the d’Arcy Doyle Award. I’m happy to report that the painting has found a new home, and, not only that, but another artlover has commissioned a similar work. I’m beginning to feel that I might have found my art “niche”.

For anyone who is interested in such things, here is my artist statement relating to this work, explaining the thought process behind it.

The aim of my painting is the appreciation of the natural world as a unity in which we are not objective observers, but an integral and undifferentiated part. For me, this involves painting in a realistic style and with an attachment to place.
My recent work has been based on a single place; a rainforest stream near my home. It is not that there is anything special about this place; there are thousands, perhaps millions of such places where the basic elements of water, rock, light and vegetation come together.
In Zen Buddhism there is a term, kensho, which implies a momentary enlightenment wherein one “sees nature” and also sees one’s own nature, with the sense that there is no duality between the ‘seer’ and the ‘seen’. My goal is for my painting to open the door to a such an experience.
In the set of three, titled ‘Focus Shirt, the top panel shows a distant view, which reads as a conventional landscape painting. In the second panel , the middle ground, the patterns of shapes are becoming more abstract, and in the bottom panel they are rendered more abstractly again, with primary interest being on the distorted shapes created by moving water and the colours.

Where shadows fall, you can see what lies beneath.

Shadows of branches inscribe secret messages on flowing water
Shadows of branches
inscribe secret messages
on flowing water

Oil on canvas, 60×60 cms

This work is part of the series I am doing of a rainforest creek close to my home on the Gold Coast.  I am interested in the optical intricacies created by ripples and reflections.  Where the shadows fall, you can see beneath the surface to what lies beneath.  Could this be a metaphor of some kind?

Shallow Waters – 77 – 84/100 for 2013

Shallow Waters - oil on canvas, 122 x 41 cms
Shallow Waters – oil on canvas, 122 x 41 cms
Tree by the Pool, graphite and Colour pencil on paper, 40 x 30 cms
Tree by the Pool, graphite and Colour pencil on paper, 40 x 30 cms
Ripple Tripping, 9x panels, 15cm x 15cms, watercolour pencil on watercolour paper
Ripple Tripping, 9x panels, 15cm x 15cms, watercolour pencil on watercolour paper
Creek textures, oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Creek textures, oil and mixed media on canvas board, 30×30 cms
Patterns in the Water - oil and encaustic media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Patterns in the Water – oil and encaustic media on canvas board, 30×30 cms
Serene Creek - graphite and watercolour on paper, 30x10
Serene Creek – graphite and watercolour on paper, 30×10
Roiled as a Torrent, liquid graphite wash on watercolour paper, 20x30 cms
Roiled as a Torrent, liquid graphite wash on watercolour paper, 20×30 cms
Rainforest filigree - mixed media on canvas board, 30x30 cms
Rainforest filigree – mixed media on canvas board, 30×30 cms

For the final year of my Fine Arts study I will be working in depth on a single subject. I’ve chosen the local creek, Mudgeeraba Creek, which is a beautiful little spot. There will be a lot more creek paintings coming up in future months. At this point I am trying out a variety of approaches. Hopefully along this journey I will discover my own special way of interpreting this subject.

Katoomba Cliffs 63/100 for 2013

Katoomba Cliffs oil on canvas 60x60 cms
Katoomba Cliffs oil on canvas 60×60 cms

It was about this time last year that I visited the Blue Mountains for the spring Garden Festival at Leura. I got some wonderful reference shots of the canyon walls, including the one I painted this picture from, taken from the top of Wentworth Falls. This painting is built on a textured base of torn strips of thick hand-made paper to suggest the feel of the rock strata. I’ve used unblended rectangular strokes of strong colour to bring out the colour variations in the cliff face. Sadly this year parts of the Blue Mountains have already been damaged by fire and many homes lost. Fire is a constant danger in this region and I fear this summer is going to be a bad one.