SUSAN STEPHENSON
 
At a time of unprecedented visual abundance - when artists sift through hundreds of photos before layering them into a single image - I remain a steadfast oil painter, determined to continue my slow-cooked practice of working from direct observation as much as possible. Rather than turning my back on the contemporary world, I am responding to it in the most primal means I know. 
 
Everyday scenery is fodder for my paintings. Navigating a line between attraction and unease, I am torn between the lovely places that appeal to collectors and locations that some might find un-paintable. Traffic lights and stop signs inspire me, as does the way sunlight hits the “do not pass” lines in the road. Instead of pretending that electric lines are nonexistent, I use them to break the sky into visual patterns, letting them catch the light and become orange against the blue dome of the atmosphere. Every day, people are bombarded with chances to see beauty in the mundane yet sleepwalk past them. Rather than wait a hundred years for our culture to look back wistfully at some of the things we currently overlook, I prefer to show their beauty right now - why wait? 
 
My easy relationship with curvilinear perspective is partly due to growing up in a geodesic dome. After twenty years of using the wraparound view, it now permeates my work automatically, and the spatial relationships of landscape define all of my work regardless of genre.  I find it meditative to look for equilibrium among a work’s formal relationships and the visual cues from a particular location.  As a result, balancing abstraction and reality has become one of my primary reasons for creating.  Ultimately, I look for combinations of modern life and contemporary scenery that spark that peculiar blend of kooky and beautiful I find so compelling.
 
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