Let’s kick start the new year with Susan Nethercote as the artist of the month. I came across her work on Instagram and I have been faithfully following and getting inspired by her works and style. She is a brilliant botanical and floral abstract painter based in Australia. There is beauty and romance in all her work. The shades of colours that she chooses work so harmoniously together. Her work is poetic to me and there is a feeling of joy and peace while browsing through her work.
|Susan Nethercote, Michelle Dunn Photography|
Susan Nethercote started out researching, lecturing and tutoring in Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne. She has spent most of her professional life as the designer and owner of the Australian women’s clothing label Manque Design. Most recently she has also spent a lot of time coaching creative professionals to greater business success in her consulting practice Creative Conversation.
But her first and greatest Love is making Art, which she has been doing her entire life.
Since having her first child in 2011, Susan has devoted increasing amounts of time to painting, to the point where it has become the primary focus of both her creative and professional life.
Working from her home studio in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, Susan predominantly sells her work privately and by commission. She can be found at http://susannethercote.com/
Susan is inspired deeply by nature – the plant, mineral and bird kingdom’s in particular. She has a fascination with the different ways that nature interacts with light and weather patterns, and how this creates different atmospheres and moods. It is these ethereal qualities, the “veil between worlds”, that
Susan attempts to capture in her work.
Susan attempts to capture in her work.
She mainly works in acrylic paint, and often includes mixed media of pastel, ink.
In her words “Sometimes my observations lead me down the path of abstracting my subject completely, and sometimes I feel inspired to represent the subject realistically. Frequently it is a combination of both – capturing a perfect natural subject in a highly abstracted environment.”
In all cases, her focus is on capturing the most subtle, magical and ethereal aspects of natural subjects, attempting to stimulate the most subtle, magical and ethereal aspects of our inner selves.
Susan is endlessly fascinated by how art is able to access the parts of ourselves for which we have no words. “To me making art is soul work.”
· How did your journey as an artist begin? Did you have any formal training or is it self-taught?
My journey as an artist began when I was 15 and I begged my mother to let me take oil painting classes with a local artist. I didn’t stick with painting at that stage though, I went on to study art history, become an academic and then made the surprise move of starting a clothing label which I’ve had for 18 years now. I returned to painting in a big way after the birth of my second daughter about 4 years ago. I was having a hard time emotionally and painting was my way of processing it all, it really helped me to heal some old wounds. I could never have predicted that painting would become my new full-time profession! I took some great online classes in that time by people like Kelly-Rae Robers, Mati Rose McDonough, Faith Evans Sills and Flora Bowley. I totally went to art school online and it was the best!
· How would you describe your art style?
Well, I can only describe my art style in terms of what I am making currently. And at the moment I am painting wild, colourful abstracted florals and also loving abstracting the more structural botanical blooms found here in Australia and South Africa. So I think it’s safe to say that my style is Floral and Botanical Abstract.
· What's your inspiration for your art work?
Flowers and gardens are my biggest inspiration. But the paint itself and the act of swiftly moving it around is also incredibly inspiring for me. I’m a big fan of ‘happy accidents’ in art. I truly believe that we do ourselves a huge favor as artists when we relax, get out of our own way with our desire for perfection and allow something bigger to move through us! That’s where the real magic happens and also where people respond best to your art.
· What is the most challenging aspect about your work?
Firstly, having enough time! I have two kids, the youngest of which is just about to start school, so hopefully I will have more of that soon. I’m weirdly comfortable about doing large scale commission work, which is super-challenging, but I’m totally up for it as I absolutely love creating work for others and also painting very big! I am also about to launch an art retreat on the French Riviera, which is really exciting, but has also pressed ALL my buttons and has been a huge challenge. To be honest, I find the act of painting the easiest part of my job as an artist.
· What is your creative process like? And what keeps you motivated?
My creative process is very swift and free. I like to work fast as I love the feeling of just allowing the creativity to move through me. This really helps with not getting too ‘precious’ about my work. For me this kind of creativity is very spiritual. I feel like something universal and beautiful is running through me veins when I paint, and I really trust that and give myself up to it. Not every painting I make is ‘good’, but enough are to keep trusting this process. I’ve always been a pretty driven and motivated person when it comes to my creativity, my biggest problem is usually the opposite- knowing when I need to slow down and put the brakes on the million projects I could potentially take on. Over the past year, I have learned to be a little more selective about what I take on. Saying no to opportunities that just didn’t feel right, was very empowering for me.
· Do you commission different projects? And how can people purchase your paintings?
I do a lot of commission work these days, as I mentioned, and I really like it. People have mostly gotten in touch with me to create something for them after seeing my work on Instagram or Facebook. I use those platforms very deliberately as my primary organic marketing tool. I really enjoy the process of creating for someone else, but I have made a system for that so that I am absolutely as clear as possible on what they are after. I also sell my work directly from my website http://susannethercote.com/
· What is your favorite art piece that you have done till date?
I have just recently completed a large, 3 canvas commission for a waiting room at an IVF clinic in a major Melbourne hospital. Since I went through IVF myself to have my first child, this project was very close to my heart. I am very proud of these paintings.
· Any tips or words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career.
Being a successful artist also means being a business person. Invest in a website with an online store. Learn how to take good photos of your art (even an iPhone can take amazing photos if you pay attention to lighting). Share you art and your art journey on social media, especially Instagram. And by far, the best marketing decision I made was to by stock photography of interiors and Photoshop my art into them so people can picture your art in their home. My art business has grown so much over the past year as a result of each of these aspects. And also, allow yourself to get messy, real messy, that’s where the magic happens.
Thank you Susan for sharing your inspiring journey with me and my readers. Wishing you all the best Susan in your creative journey!!
Please click here to follow Susan's work on Instagram and click here if you wish to buy her work.
All Images and work are copyright Susan Nethercote