Susan Duke: Artist’s Statement
My paintings are created to be an antidote to angst. Considering the daily digital onslaught and frantic pace of modern life, most of us are in dire need of a contemplative moment – time to take a deep breath, relax and allow our bodies and souls to refresh and renew. Each of my paintings is meant to be a window of imagination into a private healing place of beauty and energy.
When I am painting, I lose myself in the colors — the intricate interactions of the fluid oil pigments are a constant and complete fascination to me. I love to use the oil paint lavishly – to paint with enthusiastic abandon. The abstract quality of both the individual and intersecting strokes create a world unto themselves, a microcosm of experience, introspection and joy.
Although my painting style is deeply rooted in French Impressionism, it is also definitely an evolving hybrid. I have chosen to create my original works in oil on canvas, applied with passionate palette knife strokes. The juxtaposition of freedom and control in this style of painting convey and relate to the contrasts and continuums that give our lives both excitement and balance.
Quality of both expression and craftsmanship are equally important to me. I prefer the immediacy of painting with palette knives (generally employed to mix paints), to most convincingly convey the powerful expressive qualities of the oil medium. Palette knife technique imparts a range of unique variations in texture from sheer to impasto. These appear to alter in various light affording ever-changing glimpses of new detail, depth and color.
I love our earth home and want to express that intensely deep spiritual feeling which inherently connects all of us to each other and to our environment. The essential essence of each painting simultaneously commemorates a particular place in time and reaches for the timeless.
Susan Duke has been painting all her life. Many of her happiest early memories are of sitting at an easel, looking through the window and painting impressions of the scenery outside. Her father was a highly decorated Marine pilot and photographer with rapidly changing assignments; her mother was a schoolteacher with a sense of adventure — so the family moved frequently. Both of her parents preferred the freedom of living out in the country to the structure of base quarters, so Duke grew up exploring forests or beaches, wading in streams and following shafts of light into hidden magical places.
Serious blood chemistry illnesses during childhood resulted in a prognosis of only a 2% chance of survival, but experimental medical technology coupled with her indomitable will to live eventually triumphed. Duke states that facing death at such an early age gave her an indelible perspective about how precious, beautiful and fleeting our time here on earth is. To occupy the long periods of convalescence, the young girl was encouraged to further her studies in art. She took private lessons and due to her talent, she was even sometimes allowed to enroll in adult classes. She soon began to win awards which resulted in selling her first commissioned painting at 12 years old.
After winning a contest at 17, she experienced a whirlwind career as a New York fashion model. By 19 she had married and given birth to a wonderful baby girl. The marriage didn’t last, but her child has always been a joy and inspiration for the artist. She says that love and responsibility gave her motivation and strength far beyond anything she had ever imagined.
As a single parent, Duke set out to make a living through painting and graphic art. After several years of financial struggle she realized necessity of a college degree to provide avenues to
a more stable income. With characteristic determination, Duke put herself through college on academic grants and a bicycle — typically cycling around 20 miles a day to attend classes. While maintaining her grants with a 3.78 GPA, the strenuous daily exercise resulted in vibrant health for the first time in her life.
After completing college with a dual degree in graphic communications/journalism, Duke worked for the next decade as an art director and illustrator for major international companies such as the New York Times and EF Foundation, earning 23 state and national awards. Her goal had always been to become a professional fine art painter, so after raising her daughter she was finally able to successfully pursue her cherished vocation.
Today, she is happily married to her best friend of 40 years, Patrick Posey, a songwriter and musician. They live in a romantic cabin in the deep dark woods of northwest Louisiana. Duke’s vivid Impressionist oil paintings have been shown in galleries throughout the nation and are represented in numerous private and corporate collections coast to coast.
City Art Works – Solo Show – May 3 thru June 30, 2014 — Minden, LA
BAC Community Trust Bank – Solo Show – April thru May 2014 — Shreveport, LA
Presents — Artspace – Group Show – November 2013 thru January 2014 — Shreveport, LA
Louisiana State Exhibit Museum – Solo Show – Sept. thru November 2014 — Shreveport, LA
BAC-Boomtown 1800 Prime- Solo Show- April thru July 2013 — Bossier City, LA
SRAC –Critical Mass Juried Group Exhibit – March 2013 and March 2014– Shreveport, LA
Smith Mason Legacies – Group Show — 2011-2014 — Shreveport, LA
Zaca Studios –Duo Show – 2007-2014 – Benton, LA
Heritage Gallery — Group Show – 2004-2006 –- Shreveport, LA
Hinton Gallery – Duo Show — 1997-1998 – Shreveport, LA
Gibbens & Duke Studios – Duo Show – 1990 – 2004 — Shreveport, LA
MyOwn Gallery – Group Show – 1996-1997 – New Orleans, LA
LaBelle Gallery – Group Show – 1997 – New Orleans, LA
Raymond Chandler Gallery – Group Show – 1995-1996 — Dallas, TX
Sky High Gallery – Group Show – 1995 – Aspen, CO
Ridge Line Gallery – Group Show – 1994 – Aspen, CO
Attelier Caramel Gallery – Group Show – 1994- 1997 – Carmel, CA
Victor Gallery – Group Show – 1994 – La Jolla, CA
VanElli Gallery — Group Show – 1994 – Red Bank, NJ
Ambassador Gallery – Group Show – 1993 – Soho, Manhattan, NY
Deerfield Beach Resort – Duo Show – 1993 – Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton, FL
Sterling Suites Resort – Duo Show – 1993 –Fort Lauderdale, FL
Delaney Gallery – Group Show – 1992-1993 – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Renjeau Galleries – Group Show – 1992 – Concord, MA & Boston, MA
New York Times Company – Santa Barbara News Press—Santa Barbara, CA
AmSouth Bank – Atlanta, GA
Sterling Suites Resort – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Captain’s Cove Resort – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Deerfield Beach Resort – Deerfield Beach, FL
White Horse Inn – Galveston, TX
Littleton Inn – Littleton, MA
Park View Hotel – New Orleans, LA
Awards & Honors:
National Endowment of the Arts Grant — Artist as Entrepreneur Intensive Workshop — Spring 2013
California Newspaper Association: Art Direction, Illustration and Graphic Design — 23 wins – 1980-1987
California Newspaper Association: Judge Graphics Awards – 1987
American Collegiate: Illustrator of the Year/Graphics Pace Setter Awards – 1979-1980
Louisiana and California College Educational Grants – 3.75 GPA — 1975-1979
California Educational Grants: Tutor – Graphics; English; Publications — 1976-1979
Holiday in Dixie Original Art — Honorable Mention — 1970
Louisiana American Model of the Year – 1969
Business Administration: Golden Gate University at University of California Santa Barbara – (2 classes shy of graduation due to corporate transfer) 1985-1987
AA: Dual Major — Graphic Communications/Journalism: Santa Barbara City College — 1980
Certificate Commercial Illustration: Shreveport Commercial College – 1972
Charitable Original Fine Art Donations, Shreveport, LA:
ArTini Fund Raiser for Bossier Arts Council 2013
Go Red American Heart Fund — 2010
Friends of the Meadows Museum –1998; 2001
Betty & Leonard Deaf Action Center –1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
Christmas in the Sky benefit for Shreveport Regional Arts Council — 2000, 2002
Diabetic Life Pulse Clinics, LLC – Start-up Marketing director – Shreveport, LA — 2013
Heritage Gallery – Manager – Shreveport, LA — 2004-2006
Gibbens & Borders, LLC – Marketing director –Shreveport, LA –1998-2004
EF Foundation – International Art director/ publications manager – Boston, MA — 1988-1990
New York Times Company – Art director – Santa Barbara, CA –1980-1988
Free-lance Illustrator 1972-1987