Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post
Suzy Kitman is as fascinating to watch as she is to listen to. She seems very at ease talking and creating art simultaneously, so you’d never know this isn’t something she does everyday. You’d also never know her paintings can take 6 months to finish because she seems to whisk through the details so swiftly and effortlessly, adding a palette knife at time to color the canvas quickly. She drew a constant crowd in the store as she created a thickly textured painting of three dolls, which she affectionately called a girl party (two Raggedy Anns and another larger girl doll but no Raggedy Andy). Suzy is a still-life and portrait artist who also teaches acrylics classes, and she says she was an impatient person until her late 20’s when she learned to paint with oils. It was her love of color and its magical infinite qualities that got her into painting. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of the American Indian.
It was at the latter museum where the curator asked her to draw some Kachina dolls and she really began to focus in on a subject she never envisioned herself painting—dolls. The more she drew these Kachina dolls, the more dialogue was created between herself and the dolls, and she found herself connected to the incredible powerful effect dolls have on people. “Dolls can be a conduit to very primal feelings and childhood memories,” she says. “They all start out as sculptures, then humans spend energy on crafting them into something” they think kids will play with. She says she has “scouts” who find unusual dolls for her collection. The dolls’ expressions make her stop and ask questions like “Who thought this was a happy face? Or “Who thought a kid would want to play with that?”
Suzy sees metaphor in dolls and often uses them as subjects to explore human relationships in her art. The dolls Suzy collects are unusual and her artwork around them is based on their character or personality. Today’s still life assembly of three dolls includes a Raggedy Ann belonging to friend KC Cowan of OPB’s ArtBeat fame. Another is a mid-century hooded doll whose condition and expression reached out to Suzy when one of her scouts texted her with the image in a store before buying it.
Suzy was excited to experiment with some new colors. She used M. Graham oils today and was happy with their feel. After getting umber outlines down, Suzy began adding background color with a palette knife, and added dried paint for some variance in textures. She works quickly to cover the canvas, she explained to her seated listeners, because white can be disturbing to the eye. As well as still life dolls, she also paints portraits and “big fruits”. In assembling a still life, she says, “I allow my present life and my past to surface.”
With her paintings fetching upwards of $2,800, this fundraiser with a starting bid of $75 marks one of the best deals in An Artist A Day!
The last image shows Suzy’s painting at the end of the day Thursday. We will post an update with a picture of the finished piece