Susan continued to paint in the dark using her "projected image technique". Although she used a digital projector she also used 35mm slides for many of her legacy photos. Scanning slides and transparencies for digital display is functional but nothing beats the richness of film slides. She was working in oil on canvas but her proposed new series of watercolors - to document her new and old neighborhood, including the Santa Monica Pier and Boardwalk, as it is today - was taking shape nicely. All of us at Infinity Studio liked how the retrospective show turned out but after all that has happened she was not be able to do them all. The Photographs presented below were taken by Susan and reflect the sort of images from which the new series is emerging. For the 2018 Small World show she began a watercolor of the pier looking south which is similar to Moby's Dock. She was using a digital camera and projector instead of her 35mm film and slide projector but otherwise the technique was exactly the same. "But Susan was not a photographer", you may say. Perhaps a word of explanation is in order.
For ages artists have used a "Camera Obscura" to project an image and trace the outline of the scene to indicate where they should apply the paint, as explained by David Hockney in his book "Secret Knowledge". Susan developed her own methods of working with a projected image. She explains: "I photographed in black and white and developed the film in my own darkroom. I put the negatives into 35 mm slide mounts and projected the photographs onto paper hung on the wall. The outlines were drawn in with a fine tip permanent pen then I painted in the image." When she uses acrylic or oil as a medium the paint is applied in the dark as seen above without tracing. Printed material can also be projected directly onto paper or canvas using an "opaque projector". In this technique light is reflected from the printed matter whereas the other projects light through the image. The image quality, sharpness and resolution are not as good as with slides, which is required for doing fine detail watercolors. Additionally either method brings a certain abstract quality to the line drawing or painting. These techniques require high contract and detail.
As was mentioned above, with the advancement of computers and related electronics, Susan is now using digital
photography, editing and projection equiptment. She liked the fact that she does not have to bracket photos any more, which was expensive. Bracketing means taking a light meter reading and estimating the distance from the camera to the subject and settign the camera accordingly but still taking many extra photos on either side of the choosen ISO and focus settings just to be sure the composition is in focus and properly lighted. No more waiting to develope the film and see how the photos came out. Since She was not a photographer she could then pay attention to the composition and take the photo then look at the screen and if the photo is not right she changes something and takes another photo. It is amazing how much ease and image clarity can be achieved using electronics but Susan had also learned an important lesson that essentially comes down to the fact that sometimes
'less is more'. "I draw more vividly because I have learned over the years that not all of the
detail has to be painted in. Much of the line work stands on it's own and the most important parts are painted
in" she explains.
Click on any image to enlarge it and enjoy the slide show
This is the Georgian Hotel today - the same shot I painted in 1979 - the Cirque de Soleil had just left the parking lot, two films were shot here last month, and today is just a normal day - everything quiet, waiting for the next event in our parking lot.
The same two little houses which I painted so long ago, are, amazingly, still here but surrounded by multi-million dollar condos. They are third to the left. Movie vans have moved in, ready for their first shoot. The lucky people who own these condos have the very best view of our Santa Monica Beach, and we still have the character of the street preserved, although in a somewhat different fashion.
This is the view from my front window, early in the morning, before anything is happening. The aquarium is a new addition. At one point it was owned by both UCLA and Heal the Bay. Classes of school children come down to experience the under sea life held in large tanks inside. They give parties and the children paint on paper, as well as the sidewalk, as they are inspired by the exhibit.
From the outside, you can see the Carousel going round, listen to the music and be completely entranced. In the photograph, there are reflections in the glass, and when I paint this one I will eliminate all the photographic problems by choosing what to include in the watercolor. I may also bring the interior into sharp relief. I begin to paint the most important part first, and keep going until the painting says STOP. I am looking for that magic moment when the painting is cohesive to the viewer, but still leaves room for the viewer to put his own personality and thoughts into the painting. I am really looking forward to doing this one.
This is the front of the Surf Ranch - a local restaurant where one of my friends used to work as a bouncer. It is owned by a local architect, and has karaoke and billiards inside, along with scrumptious food. Come down to the patio and enjoy our California weather.
Can you imagine having a police station in the middle of all of this? The Ferris wheel in the back ground is the most colorful of all of them in the United States. A hint of the roller coaster and the tops of the trapeze can all be seen in the background. Would you like to come to work or play here?
I looked out from my patio one day and saw these London busses, and my past came flooding into my consciousness. My sister and I used to sit on the top of the double-decker buses, which ran up and down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, as we went to the Art Institute every Saturday morning. What nostalgia. These buses bring visitors to our beach and to other attraction in the city.
There are many kiosks or push carts on the Pier, as well on our 3rd Street Promenade. These carts feature the work of different artisans such as beautiful clothes, hats, and other souvenir items. You can even have yourself drawn or sculpted by local artisans, right here on the beach - a wonderful thing to bring home to the family.
Our arcade is still here, just as it was in the past, along with new shops. My boys used to go the Arcade and spend all their money on Skee Ball. Today I think it is all about digital pin ball machines.
Just inside this colorful façade is Pacific Park - the only remaining amusement park on a pier along the whole California Coast. It is small in comparison to past amusement piers such as Pacific Ocean Park, which burned down repeatedly and is no longer here but Pacific Park is still here and it is a wonderful attraction for families.
Would you believe this? A trapeze school, right here on the beach. For the not-so-timid you can go up there and fly like the aerialists - with help from the professionals - a truly wonderful experience. Would you do it?
Well - here goes - a young boy is about ready to take a leap into space.
This photo shows the south end of the remodeled Carouse causeway with many steps leading to our Boardwalk. You can see Hot Dog on a Stick hiding behind the trees. The city of Santa Monica did a beautiful job of enhancing the structures with many beautiful palm trees. These steps are used by skateboarders for jumping down the steps, also the police ride their bicycles down the steps just for practice.
These steps were made famous in the film The Sting, many years ago. They are still here, and I take my watercolor classes to this spot to paint - just under the steps. You can see the gazebo in the background, and of course, the Carousel is inside this building.
Visitors are entranced with our Pier. They are always coming and going. You can see my studio building to the left - the white building. This is my side street. Pretty unusual you might say.
This is the entrance to the Pier from Ocean Avenue. Walking back up the Pier you come into the city proper, where we are rebuilding our Mall. The famous 3rd St. Promenade is up there too. In the future, we will have the new Metro rail station up above, and the Pier will be accessible to all.
Evening Pier Series
As the sun gets low in the sky the pier takes on a magical quality. The lights begin to go on and in a minute you will see the new lights on the Ferris wheel - the only one of it's kind in the world.
Cabs, limos, and cars stop here and enter the lot on the left. That lot is also used for our Twilight Dance Series, free outdoor movies, and other such events. All areas of the pier are used for large public functions now - a real benefit to tourists and city residents alike.
As you walk down the pier, this is what it looks like as the sun begins to set. The glow falls on the buildings and turns them to gold.
The show cases in the front of the station are used by the city to show children's art, along with other papers showing local events. It is nice having the police so close, so visible, and they are so wonderful to the people. They are still a real part of the community.
The day I shot this picture this group showed up. I do not know what they are doing. It looks like a camp fire, but I do not think so. Perhaps it is the glow of the sunset on something. What do you think?
This is our favorite place to stop, sit and meditate. At the moment no one is here by the rail but in a minute or two someone will appear and find their own wonderful place to sit and enjoy the sunset on the beach.
I guess I like to be under things and under the Pier is one of my favorite places. A local artist painted the blue murals around the Aquarium, similar to what I did so long ago when the Pier was in the middle of renovation. We both used the same idea of painting the background, and inviting people to paint in the images. This mural is exquisite and brings a glow to the structures.
Steps, steps, and more steps. I am enthralled by the different ways of getting up to the Pier. We love steps in Santa Monica. And here you can see more of our new mural.
Our Street Now
Here I am, still here after 35 years, in the same spot. I am still right out in the open, with a garden in front but still invisible. No one sees me. It is a trick I learned in Venice. For an artist this is a veritable heaven. My subject matter is right outside my door. I photograph and paint and no one even notices.
My building is nestled just next to and almost under the Pier. This is just north of my studio. I tell people I live under the Pier. It sounds strange, but colorful - not quite correct, but very romantic, don't you think?
The Pier Today
All day long people walk up and down the Pier. When something interesting is happening down below everyone stops to watch. On Saturdays and Sundays the joggers run down the Pier en mass.
You can see my building - the white one - right across from the Carousel. This is my favorite spot in the world right now. I love to be on my block, in my neighborhood, painting the local scenes. Something is always happening here so I do not have to look far for inspiration, it is all around me. We are going to paint my building in the spring, making it look like the row houses in Curacao. We all realize that we live in an historic area, and we do our best to preserve the past while cleaning up for the future.
This time the steps go down to the sand. There is a fountain down below to wash your feet. You can see the beach roller which is a public art piece that was done a while ago. The large cement roller has three dimensional images on the surface and when the roller is pulled down the beach it makes sculpture in the sand. Quite remarkable.
The sun is just beginning to go, and we are waiting for that magic moment when the lights go on. Right now we are in the middle of day to night - a quiet time.
On a cool winter's day you can still eat a churro and enjoy the wide expanse of the beach. Summer or winter, empty or crowded, it is always magic.
Even the homeless find a home on the beach, in one way or another. This lady is a regular.
This restaurant is part of a chain celebrating the film which made this name famous. It serves shrimp in all kinds of different ways, and the waiters are often young actors, looking to be discovered. Join us for lunch, and be entertained at the same time. The food is good, the view is good, and life is good.
In this shop you can find rocks, shells, and items made of these different materials. Many visitors take home a bit of Santa Monica Beach.
What can you see when looking through this telescope? Sand, sand, and more sand. Yes but also people, sail-boats and even seals.
Sunrise at The Studio
It is early in the morning on my block, the children are just coming down to the aquarium, and I am sitting on my patio drinking my first cup of coffee while the world passes by.
The runners are going by, and I am just about to get on my bike and start my day - exercise first, to keep me healthy - I ride my bike right out of my front door- I love my life.
I hope you can share the satisfaction of my life through these photographs. I had hoped that as the work proceeded I would post the finished watercolors for your enjoyment but it looks like I will not finish this series. If you want an original or print please contact Infinity Studio.
Thank you for your interest in and support of my work.Susan
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