July 17th, 2015
Interviewer: Terry Henry for Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff
Susan is a signature member of the Watercolor Society of North Carolina and has been published in Splash 12: Celebrating Artistic Vision and Splash 14: Light and Color (North Light Books). She has studied with nationally known artists including Cheng-Khee Chee, Frederick Graff, and Joseph Fettingis. In addition to teaching workshops, she has exhibited her paintings at art festivals throughout the Southeast and has created designs for the DaySpring Division of Hallmark Cards. Her paintings are inspired by the beauty and love of God as he reveals himself in creation.
CJAS: How long have you been an artist?
SC. From childhood on I have played around with art in one form or another. Then in 1992 I took my first watercolor class from Edrie Knight at our local community college.
My painting shifted from being a hobby to a more focused pursuit when I began exhibiting at outdoor art shows.
CJAS: Of that time how long have you been an instructor.
SC: I have been teaching for six years. Prior to that, my time was given to art shows which I did for about 12 years with the help of my husband, Clay. During the shows people would often come into our booth asking if I taught workshops, and my answer was always no. It got to the point where I was hearing that question so frequently, I began collecting email addresses from people who were inquiring. Finally an opportunity to teach presented itself and I took the leap.
CJAS: I remember you taking some workshops at Cheap Joe’s before you started teaching. Who inspired you the most?
SC: I loved studying with Fredrick Graff and appreciated his emphasis on design. He encouraged me to take calculated risks in my paintings. From Cheng Khee Chee I learned the importance of knowing your subject matter and having strong feelings for it. He’s such a gentleman. I think Cheng Khee’s humble spirit inspires as much as his art does.
CJAS: So, when you teach, what is it that you want your students to leave with at the end of the week?
SC: I want them to leave better equipped to create the paintings they envision. My hope is that they will have grown in their technical skill, understanding of design, and insight into the creative process. During our week together we learn how to plan a painting with an emphasis on value, choosing colors, and identifying a focal area. Then with a drawing provided, we create a painting together step-by-step. This isn’t about learning to paint like me – they have their own beautiful stories to tell. This approach frees them to focus on learning techniques and color mixing. I especially want my students to leave with the idea that creativity is a normal part of the human experience. We are all wired for this and you aren’t the one exception.
CJAS: As I am looking at all the instructors that pass through our doors in any given year, what would draw me to take your workshop?
SC: Perhaps it would be my use of color. It’s exciting to look at the colors in a reference photo and know you have freedom to interpret rather than simply duplicate what you see. Go ahead and put some purple in that wren’s wing!
CJAS: In checking out your website (http://www.susancrouch.com) I saw that you have a faith-based approach to art. Could you explain?
SC: My paintings are a response to the beauty and love of God as he reveals himself in creation. Sometimes I’ll incorporate scripture with watercolor, as in my Tender Mercies Collection. The things I love find their way into my paintings.
CJAS: How does this translate into your workshops?
SC: It translates with care and the understanding that each of us has a unique story to tell with our art. My job as a watercolor teacher is to open up the tool box and share what I’ve learned about process, design, and creativity. With these tools in hand I encourage my students to discover and tell their own unique stories through their paintings.
CJAS: That’s really cool. In closing, what is your best memory of Cheap Joe’s?
SC: Can’t really narrow it down to just one. As a student at Cheap Joe’s, each workshop I’ve taken helped prepare me for both painting and teaching. I’ve experienced many great teaching styles and want to offer my students the same kind of quality instruction that has been so helpful to me.
CJAS: Susan, it has been a pleasure chatting with you today.
SC: Thanks Terry. See you the next time.