Susan Fey

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, way back in the 1900’s. Making art has been a defining feature of my life since childhood. I had the good fortune to grow up in a university town, where summer art programs
for kids were abundant and well taught. We had family friends who were artists who occasionally took me underwing. My high school had a vibrant and innovative art department. I studied painting, sculpture, printmaking and woodworking at the University of Wisconsin in the late 70’s. I was hired, based on talent, (and my sunny disposition) as a designer at Wisconsin Public Television in 1982. By 1984 I had become the Art Director, overseeing print and video production design for local, regional and national productions. I specialized, later in my career, in video design
and retired in 2013. I returned to painting in 2017, after finding myself mesmerized by a wall of Rebecca Crowell’s oil and cold wax works at a gallery in rural Wisconsin. One month later, I took a four day workshop from James Edward
Scherbarth, one of her early students and disciples. Since that first immersive experience, I have studied with James, and Pamela Caughey extensively.

“I think of all abstract expression as a kind of subconscious reckoning with the surprising collection
of certainties and uncertainties that make each of us unique, remarkable and beautifully flawed. I
have been drawn, unaccountably, to coastlines and little wooden boats since I was a child. Echoes of
these embedded influences exist in my work, regardless of my conscious intention. I’m happy about

The first oil and cold wax paintings I encountered, literally, stopped me in my tracks. I had no idea what I was looking at, and found myself utterly mesmerized by the depth, complexity and textural richness of the
compositions. Cold wax medium is basically bees wax and mineral spirits, and is roughly the texture of cooking lard. It imparts body and translucency to oil pigments, and lends it self to building complex and subtle surfaces. I
work with scrapers, palette knives, brayers, etching tools and transfer techniques to build ‘history’ on a canvas. Generally I begin without a plan, allowing the process to evolve spontaneously until a painting begins to
assert itself. Something will become, (psychologically) recognizable and I then work to resolve the composition without extinguishing its essence.

We moved to the Cape to be near family in the, (Covid) summer of 2020. Suddenly without studio space, I spent those first couple years exploring the cape through the lens of my iPhone and I began to experiment with
pushing photos toward more abstract images. Recently, I began blending my landscape photos with photos of my paintings and ‘Pairings’ were born.

As I am drawn to similar compositional and textural elements in both mediums, it’s not surprising that they tend to blend in interesting and harmonious ways. Printing them on aluminum seemed an ideal way to
present these new constructs that are neither photos or paintings, but an evocative fusion of the two. I am now beginning to shoot and paint with specific relationships in mind and am excited to see how this new awareness influences the work.

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