SUSAN L. ZELLER
Susan's works, ZELERWORKS will hang at UMDNJ Student lounge from Monday,
June 30 through July, 2003
Zellerworks, NJ, Marlton,
I was drawn to the world of art
immediately. This attraction probably came from the fact that I had
problems learning and paying attention in school, thusly built up an attraction to creative activities such as art,
music, and outdoor playing.
The stumping grounds for all of my creative
activity took place in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. These activities
became my energy vortex. I could pull from this creative vortex
because it signified a universal language for me. Anyone could
appreciate a mixed up mud pie with rocks, water, twigs and leaves or a picture with all different colors or humming
a song at the top of my lungs in the cherry tree. Texture became very
stimulating for me: The feeling of finger painting paper, the feeling
of a National Geographic Magazine page running through my fingers or
mixing up a “mud pie.”
a young age, I became interested in manufacturer magazines, appliance warranties and books. I loved the black ink technical illustrations and appreciated the texture of
the paper that these were printed on. Norman Rockwell’s work was fascinating to me and my favorite painting was entitled “The Homecoming” because of the kids up in the tree and the soldier’s
beautiful girlfriend hiding on the side of his house. Another artist that intrigued me, as a child and still does as
an adult is Arthur Szyk who illustrated Grosset & Dunlap’s Andersen’s Fairy Tales.
Along my childhood path, I visually
saturated myself into the human body; predominately the female anatomy. This
was the precursor to my artistic expression and fascination in painting the human body.
Though I hold no formal degree in art, I
have received superior instruction and guidance along the way interspersed with experiential knowledge. For the past 12 years, I have studied life drawing art with Jeff Filbert at Perkins Institute, his Camden, NJ studio, and natural settings such as Higbee
Beach in Cape May, New Jersey.
with nude models in the medium of graphite pencils, progressing to charcoal and finally Indian ink encouraged a
natural transition to paint. Studying with Ron George reinforced an oil
painting technique by using a very limited palette, not sketching or drawing out the initial painting, but painting
it out with a brush and building on it with a layering, technique. Joseph
Zvejnieks at the University of the Arts focused on “less is better” in
portrait oil painting teaching methodologies in painting and wiping off with linseed oils, various varnishes, and
drier mediums for specified self portraiture and figure modeling.
My style of oil painting began with an
easel and a pre-stretched canvas. It has progressed to tacking the
unstretched canvas to the studio wall and allowing a natural flow of paint to occur, similar to Jackson Pollock. This technique brings an unabashed freedom to painting which opens up all
boundaries and imagination for me. Proceeding with this “openness,”
I experiment in a combination of abstract and concrete theories to produce a painting. The abstract theories came from studying Pablo Picasso and his ability
to capture emotional temperament and interpretation in cubism, while the concrete theories were learned from
Rockwell and his realistic style of painting. Many times the painting
tells me what to do and how “it” would like to be painted.
The complimentary and primary colors that I
use have a likeness in grounding that Vincent Van Gogh achieves in his “The Potato Eaters” painting. To me, it almost appears like
the color of the paint that Van Gogh chose actually came from potato water- very brown, very grounded and compliments the painting perfectly. Lighting
is extremely important to me and how it affects the painting. I have
experimented with natural, synthetic, late night and early morning lighting, and have studied the work of Claude
Monet’s Rouen Cathedral paintings, and the changing light and fog that
he captured. Monet’s works with lighting styles has brought about a
curiosity that has stimulated me to do more outside paintings, and is my current focus of concentration.
This exhibit and the eight chosen oil
paintings reflect my spiritual path with God over the past three years. This
current body of work reflects how life can wax and wan into many different chapters and directions. I was able to achieve a variety of depth and texture in these paintings
through experimenting with thicker applications of paint and different brush strokes, various forms of mediums, and
wiping off paint to get closer to the white of the canvas.
“A Healthy Stock” portrays three heifer cows chewing on
mature and fully developed hay nurturing their growth and development like spiritual preparation and fulfillment.
“A Clearing” signifies an enigma, what is behind this young girl standing in
front of the clearing, it looks bright and beautiful but is she in the way or blocking the path of her spiritual
life with God.
“The Battle of Religion” painting is very primitive and
savage with full brush strokes and a contrast between light and dark bringing about much emotion and vulnerability.
painting “The Tree and Branches” a surrealistic quality shape,
color and direction occurred similar to Salvador Dali’s obscure fluidity and can be viewed either horizontally or
In “Spiritual Enlightenment” God is embracing, filling and bathing the Holy Spirit of light around the mortal
soul; this is shaped like a diamond to represent the perfect quality of this occurrence. When oil painting it is the
ultimate goal to delve deep within the genetic makeup of the “models” emotional and physical structure, from
there, it is transferred onto the canvas to create a painting. The
mystery and beauty of the human body has begun to unfold before my eyes but will never be completed.
The act of creation micromanaged all the
way down to the cellular level is evident in the painting of “Adam” and
“Eve.” Eve is timid and shy hiding in the shadows of nature and
Adam outright and bold coming from the dust and breath of God. Comparable
to the painter Egon Schiele’s passion and eroticism, when I am painting the human body, an intense focus on the
flesh and sexuality of the model is evident that signifies mortality intertwined with an openness and love to
capture infinite spirituality.
the “Fruit Bearer” which is the final painting of this exhibit, a
signification of vibrant, full colors, varied brush strokes and an encapsulating of the canvas in its entirety with
fertility, femininity and nurturing growth completes the painting. This
painting to me is analogous to Paul Gaughin’s “Whence Do We Come? What Are
We? Where Are We Going?” in it’s feeling of ripeness and color and fruit and people indigenous to the land
almost blending directly into it.
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