Artist Susan Lyon

Susan Lyon art
art by Susan Lyon

400 Series Pastel

About Susan Lyon

photo of Susan Lyon

Susan Lyon grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. Her initial interest in art was sparked by a television show on Georgia O'Keefe. "I hadn't seen art like that before. Her work touched me emotionally and seemed so personal -- a sort of window into her soul." Lyon studied painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and  Chicago's 100+ year-old Palette and Chisel Club. It is there she first began exhibiting and selling her work.

Susan draws much inspiration from painters such as Zorn, Malavin, Sorolla, and Celia Beaux. Lyon's technique is to paint wet on wet to start and then wet on dry for her finishing touches. She occasionally thins her oils with mineral spirits to obtain a balance of scratchy brush work against thick opaque strokes for the lights. "My style is realistic with as much impressionistic color as possible. I like to combine wide brushes for sweeping strokes in the background with small, soft brushes for subtle details in my center of interest."

Many of the ideas for her paintings come from her travels or the everyday objects that surround her such as stuffed animals, dolls or the occasional curious kitten playfully exploring her studio. "What I hope to accomplish is to convey the whimsical beauty I see around me as well as to make the viewer smile when they look at my work. When I started out as an artist, I struggled against my own more feminine tastes. I feared people would not take a painting of stuffed animals or dolls seriously. Once I overcame this self-consciousness, I was happy to find that what I enjoy looking at day after day also reaches others. Even when I'm painting fairly traditional things, my greatest joy is figuring out original ways of setting up the most common of still life objects so that they appear dynamic. What inspired me in the beginning to paint was the human form. Through the years I've done still life's and people in the landscape. As my journey has evolved I find that my first love is the lasting one. I paint either the nude figure or portrait at least once or twice a week. If I could do nothing else but draw from the figure I would be happy.

Susan Lyon lives in a rural area of North Carolina with her husband, artist Scott Burdick, whom she met at the Palette and Chisel in 1989 and married in 1993. She moved there to escape the hectic pace of city life as well as to experience an entirely different part of the country. Surrounded by nature, Susan's studio allows her the space and privacy to grow as an artist. It also serves as a perfect home-base for her painting trips and travels which have included most of Europe, Turkey, Greece, Mexico, Canada, Nepal, Thailand, China, Peru, Tibet, India and Africa. "The excitement of traveling, seeing so many new sights, and incredible works in museums; combined with the challenge of painting on the spot make me a travel addict! Even before I go on a trip I'm planning the one after."

Susan's mediums of choice are oil and pastel pencil and charcoal, with occasional forays into watercolor.

Book of her paintings "Visions and Voyages" published 2008
website -
Self produced Online educational videos through website and a Drawing the Portrait DVD published by American Artist Magazine

Gallery Representation
Sage Creek Gallery
200 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Insight Gallery
244 West Main St,
Fredricksburg, TX 7862

Germanton Gallery
Germanton, NC

Sylvan Gallery
171 King St,
Charleston, SC  29401 

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?  Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
Since I was doing a portrait for my cover piece I thought that putting the thistle symbol as an earring would be appropriate.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
I worked on the smoother side of the paper, it still had a little tooth to it which gave a nice texture when I softened the pastel with my finger. I felt the paper held up against my repeated layering of the material and it allowed me to erase what I needed to.

Which artists inspire you?
My biggest inspiration right now is a Russian artist Philip Malavin.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
My advice is to work from life along side other artists as much as possible. A group atmosphere helps the creative energy.

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