Meet Featured Artist Suzanne Benjamin

Portrait of Lacey

This month we are featuring Intuitive Painting & Collage Artist Suzanne. Discover what inspires Suzanne’s artwork and take a look at her work below.

I consider myself an intuitive artist. I majored in art in high school and was lucky to attend a school of music and art in NYC which was a very inspiring experience at a very impressionable time in my life. I attended college for two years in California with an art major but didn’t go on to finish my upper division which I have always regretted. Its taken me a long time to give myself permission to call myself an artist. I never felt I had the right to do that, since I hadn’t finished my formal education.

Art has always been an underlying passion for me. I’ve always felt a need to express myself creatively. I love learning about other artists, their art and their processes too. I’ve come to believe that whether or not my art is “valid” its such a huge part of who i am, comes from such a deep place inside of me, and is so intrinsic to my emotional, mental and spiritual well-being, that I feel at the very least, I have the heart and soul of an artist, regardless of my level of talent or lack thereof. So, finally, yes, at 70 years of age, I say without shame “I am an artist”. I think I have just enough education to make me understand a fair amount about art, and have a few skills, but a big enough gap in my training and development to retain a relatively primitive or naive artistic style.

Since retiring in 2011 I’ve attended a week-long intuitive painting workshop with Chris Zydel in Santa Fe NM, took 6 week online courses with Flora Bowley and Connie Solara and attended a week long “art camp” at the home of Susan Shie, a feminist textile artist I greatly admire, in Wooster Ohio. I also took part Susan’s on line drawing daily classes for 3 months. All of these experiences have deeply affected and inspired me.

After returning from Chris Zydel’s workshop in Santa Fe I concentrated on intuitive painting for several years. I had been doing a lot of art journaling for several years prior to that. From June 2013-January 2017 I kept small “Doodle Diaries” in which I completed more than 650 colored pencil drawings that spilled out of me effortlessly each day and documented the monumental and mundane moments of my daily life during that period.

The last two years I’ve been focusing on collage. I started making collages as a form of visual affirmation. My earlier collages were done very intuitively and used a lot of found images to create scenes. I allowed them to happen without any final vision in mind. The meaning would become clear through the intuitive process of the collage. I like using symbolism and I’ve done some commissioned collages for people and have found that the intuitive process leads me to include symbolic representations that end up being very meaningful to the person I’m making the collage for. Sometimes profound connections are made that seem much more than just coincidence. For instance, I did a collage for a young man I didn’t know well. He told me a little about himself and some of his favorite colors and interests. one of which was architectural themes. I kept this information in mind while working on his piece. I felt compelled to include a photo of a large antique architect’s compass in his collage and painted it gold as that was a color he wanted included. When he saw the collage for the first time he said, “I have to show you something” as he rolled up his sleeve to reveal a large tattoo, the central figure of which was a gold antique architect’s compass identical to the one I included in his collage! For me, this is the magic of creating intuitively.

Lately I’ve been getting away from using so many found images and thinking more in terms of “painting with paper”. Most recently I’ve been collaging portraits. I start by making a sketch on canvas and then I “paint” the drawing with paper from magazines or other sources. I often add a little painting and drawing with ball point pen on top of the finished collage to enhance it.

I’ve always felt, as I’m sure many other artists do, that making art is a way of connecting with a higher source. The experience of making art is a transcendent and healing one for me.

Yayoi Kusama – Queen of Polka Dots
Homage to Frida Kahlo
Self Portrait
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