Flower Studio

Fun with Flowers Demo Artist Susan Rubin

Susan Rubin will be in the Flower Studio on August 22 and 23 demonstrating botanical illustration.

Botanical artist Susan Rubin creates realistic colored pencil drawings and prints conveying the color, structure, and implied texture of living plants. She makes very detailed drawings of flowers, trees, and ripened fruit. Even though she draws from life, these aren’t typical still life compositions. Many of her artworks feature a free-floating object against a colorful background. I spoke with Susan to get a deeper insight her upcoming appearances at the Denver Art Museum, her creative methods, her experience as an artist thus far, and her future aspirations.

Candice Frazier: What types of demonstrations will you be doing in the Flower Studio?

Susan Rubin: I will be demonstrating botanical illustration in colored pencil. It is a nice meeting of centuries-old tradition with modern materials. I will be demonstrating mixing and applying color, using colored pencils like paint.

CF: Are there times you experience creative blocks? How do you overcome them?

SR: It always comes back to story. In my practice, I find it most compelling to create work in groups of 5-20 pieces that convey a bigger idea. I usually have several groups of work planned ahead of time, so I rarely get stuck. Plants are my inspiration, and they are everywhere! I work often with Colorado native plants, and also with plants I grow in my garden. I will spend 20-40 hours or more on each piece, so I have to feel connected to my subject.

CF: In your creative process, is there a typical way you like start on an artwork?

SR: I begin (standing) with large, loose gestural drawings. I get familiar with my subject and capture the posture and movement of the plant to help inform the composition of the work. From there, the iterations of the drawing get more and more specific and, ultimately, I work to scale, focus, and accuracy.

CF: How do you determine when a piece is totally finished?

SR: That is a tough one! There is a magic moment when just a bit more work will be too much. I stop a little ahead of that point and approach the end with care. Ultimately, I sign it, frame it, and call it finished.

CF: Can you describe what the pinnacle of your success would look like? Do feel you’ve reached it thus far?

SR: I have been very fortunate to have wonderful opportunities for teaching, exhibits, inclusion in museum collections, and more. I am working on a book about my techniques, and publishing it would be a great milestone for me. I hope the pinnacle is always a little beyond my reach, because I will keep working hard and enjoying the process.

CF: What projects are you focusing on currently?

SR: I am focused on a new group of work for a solo exhibit at Spark Gallery in March 2016. I am also doing instructional videos for Craftsy.com, writing the book, and keeping up with some exciting exhibits still to come in 2015.

Candice Frazier was a 2015 summer intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. One of her favorite artworks is El Anatsui’s Rain Has No Father?, 2008 (in the African art collection on level 4 of the Hamilton Building). As an artist, she celebrates and appreciates the great craftsmanship that is exemplified in Anatsui’s particular piece.

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