An Interview with Susanna B. Long, Local Artist
For those who have visited Madison, Georgia, it's no surprise to discover that Southern Living Magazine has proclaimed it to be one of the prettiest towns in the South. Located an hour east of Atlanta and approximately 30 minutes from nearby Athens, Madison contains small town charm, historic homes, and lush gardens.
You might, however, be surprised to know that this tiny gem of a town is also home to many creatives--authors, artists, and craftpersons who call this beautiful town home. It should be no surprise that creativity would thrive here considering that the town includes a cultural center, museums, and an art gallery. I decided to interview many of the area's talented authors and artists and contacted The Madison Artists Guild and Gallery (MAGallery), which proudly displays and sells their work.
Today, I'll be featuring local artist Susanna Long. Here's what she had to say about her work.
What is your background?
I have a degree in business and languages from Copenhagen Business School (Denmark) and worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (California) for 27 years. Among other things, my creative outlet there were on web site user interface design when the internet was in its infancy. My father collected art as investments and my mother painted. It just never occurred to me to paint because I cannot draw anything that resembles real life! Painting abstract though is my journey of self-exploration into a world where freedom of expression has no boundaries. It gives me such a sense of freedom that I never allowed myself in my previous endeavors!
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
No! I was always concerned with making a living and paying my bills – it is a true luxury to have the time to devote my energy to this peaceful pastime of painting!
What is your favorite artwork you’ve ever created?
My favorite artwork seems to be evolving. It's something that I hope to keep striving for.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I’m most creative in the beginning and middle of the day. I like to paint in quiet solitude.
How do you make time for your art, and would you say you have a healthy work/life balance?
Since retiring, time is available when I make time, which as I mentioned earlier, is such a luxury! In my previous life, I raised two children who were athletes while also working. It felt like there was never enough time.
Tell us about the space where you create.
In Sarasota, I have set up the front room as my studio in our 1925 historic bungalow. My dog, Sophie (Redbone Coonhound) and my daughter’s dog, Pixie (Black & Tan Coonhound) often hang out with me which makes me happy. My husband and I are currently building a new home at Reynolds Lake Oconee and I will have a dedicated studio there – I can’t wait!
What inspires your work?
I see beauty all around me, and nature is always such an inspiration! My guide is the pursuit of peace, happiness, curiosity, discovery, and surprise. It is my hope that my art inspires a sense of peace within the viewer.
Who are your biggest influences?
I love Van Gogh’s use of colors, and I’m always browsing my contemporary abstract artists’ work.
Tell us a little about your workday as an artist.
For periods of time, I paint for hours at a time. During other periods, I’m less active while always browsing art. At this time in my life, it is the absence of structure that makes me happy – but I would say that the middle of the day is when my art comes to life.
As an artist, do you have a favorite tool you use to create?
I have some favorite brushes, and I use my palette knives a lot!
How do you share or promote your work?
I post often on Instagram and Facebook. I have my own website, and I also enter juried shows. You can find my work displayed at the MAGallery in Madison.
Do you have any routines that help you be more creative?
I don’t really have any routines. When I feel inspired, I paint.
What is your biggest barrier to being an artist or creating art, and how do you address it?
Where am I going to store it all if no-one buys it? I'm always trying to promote my work.
How do you determine what you charge for your work?
I look at other painters to see what they charge for their art, and then I come up with a square inch price where I think it fits. I think price consistency is important.
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
Follow your dreams! Create to your heart’s desire! You never know what you can do until you try! This from someone who started painting later in life, grew up in Denmark, spent time in Spain as a little girl riding my horse in the backcountry along rivers picking figs off the farmers’ trees, went to Northern Greenland inside the arctic circle for work, and ended up in Southern California before moving to beautiful Sarasota and Lake Oconee, GA – all because I dreamt about doing it!
When we make an effort to shop local and support small businesses, it's important to remember that this includes the artists who call our community home. Follow my work for more features on local artists, and be sure to stop into MAGallery to see the art in person. The gallery is located at 125 W. Jefferson Street in historic downtown, Madison, Georgia.
Madison Artists Guild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to education and encouragement of artistic endeavor in its members and the community through outreach programs, classes and workshops, social gatherings, and support of local artists through MAGallery. For more information or to become a member, visit www.themadisonartistsguild.org/