Exclusive Interview: Local Artist Sue Shannon

June 27, 2021

Click below for an exclusive interview with Local Artist, Mission Arts Life Member and Volunteer Sue Shannon.

The Mission Arts 10th Anniversary Awards Exhibition opens at Mission Beach Community Arts Centre on Saturday, 11 September. This exhibition celebrates another year of successful operation at Mission Arts and is a unique opportunity for artists to showcase their art in various mediums with sponsored prizes in several categories and for visitors to buy original works of art at affordable prices.

Sue Shannon is a local artist and volunteer exhibiting at past exhibitions and was pleased to answer some questions for our readers about her arts practice.

Tell me about your background and where your creative journey began?

My father was a talented artist in pen and ink drawing and photography and we often drew together and developed photos when I was a child. I continued my own interest intermittently until I began formal training at The North Adelaide School of Art, majoring in textiles and completing a Diploma of Fine Art in 1987.

What medium/s do you paint with?

I still work with textiles, often silk, dyeing and using Shibori techniques for patterning. I have slowly moved away textiles to works on canvas in acrylics, with the addition sometimes of mixed mediums – wiping, textiles, pastels, charcoal.

Most challenging part about working with acrylics?

I tend to work wet in wet, blending, painting over, wiping, rubbing back etc., manipulating the paint surface. I want a graduated, soft edged effect and acrylics can dry quickly in hot weather and give hard edges.

What are your biggest art influences? 

Abstract impressionism; impressionism – Monet, Turner, Van Gogh, Rees, Whitley, Gauguin.

What is your creative process like?

I don’t – I can’t – plan what I am going to paint. I begin with a blank canvas and let the painting develop, changing and emerging over time until I finally think it is resolved. A time consuming, sometimes exhausting, additive and subtractive process.

How has your style changed over the years?

A difficult question. You aren’t always aware of it. I paint on larger canvases now, more freely and more abstractly.

What inspires you to paint?

My inspiration comes from the natural world. Beauty. Colour. Effects of light. Shapes that are repeated in nature. I love colour for its own sake, texture and the happy accidents that are part of the creative process.

What is the hardest part of creating an artwork?

Because I can’t pre plan the process is time and energy consuming. There is always a struggle to define forms, discover elements and slowly find resolution.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

My favourite brushes. I paint with quite large ones and some are so well used they are worn down before I want to replace them.

How do you make sure you have time to create? 

I’m not good at prioritizing my art and putting aside time for it. I have too many other interests and commitments, I think a problem for many female artists. I find once I start a work though I become a bit obsessed and keep returning to the studio at all times of the day and night.

What's your biggest barrier to being an artist? How do you address it?

As with my answer above, prioritizing and valuing my practice. I think I believe subconsciously that other more practical and duty related activities should take precedence, and that art is an indulgence.

What does your artwork represent?

A response to the beauty around me.

What famous artist from history would you like to spend a day with and what would you do together?

Lloyd Rees in his later years. I would have loved to spend a day in his studio watching him paint Sydney Harbour.

The Mission Arts 10th Anniversary Awards Exhibition is shown daily (10am-2pm) from September 11, 2021 to October 12, 2021. Opening night, Saturday 11th September, is a ticketed event, starting at 6pm, with limited capacity. Further information regarding ticket price, availability and bookings to come.