Artist: Susan Foss
Business: Susan Foss and Abstractheart
Web sites: susanfoss.com and abstractheart.etsy.com and c-scapeduneshack.blogspot.com
Location: Hudson Valley, New York, USA
What do you create?
I have a few bodies of work that I create simultaneously. I make mixed media collages of houses that are all about place and space. I paint sexy, little fruit paintings and larger, colorful, textural abstract paintings.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
Recently I rented a small studio outside my home for the first time, and I go there as often as I can. In summer I work in the studio many days, during the “school year” I work on weekends and days off, but the creative process is ongoing, in my thoughts every day.
Do you have another "day job"?
At present I teach high school art.
Where and what did you study?
I got my BFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC and I recently received my Masters in Painting at SUNY New Paltz.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find an enormous amount of inspiration looking at other art, but also in the world I see around me every day – colors and how they interact, textures, peeling paint or paper, rust, rocks. I also pay a lot of attention to shapes and how they react to one another.
What motivates you?
The feeling I get when I am creating, the satisfaction of seeing the piece come together. Frankly, I couldn’t not do this. I have to paint, I have to create, it keeps me centered, happy and sane.
When did you start doing this?
I have always made art, except for a period of a few years when my kids were very young and I was running a restaurant. I started showing and selling my work a few years ago, and started selling on Etsy earlier this year.
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
Yes, I went through a lot of Crayolas! Later when I was 10, my parents signed me up for oil painting lessons on the Jersey shore with a man named Travis Neidlinger. I learned an incredible amount from him during that time and my paintings won ribbons at local art shows.
When and why did you decide to start your own business?
I’ve always been somewhat of an entrepreneur. I worked freelance in NYC for years, and then moved upstate and opened a restaurant for about eight years. Now it’s time for me to merge my business ability with my passion for art making.
How did you choose the name for your business?
It’s a play on words…it started out as my user name for eBay – I was selling work on there last year before I found Etsy.
What do you love most about creating your work?
I love the zone I can get into when I am absorbed in my painting. Time, stress and distractions all fall away and I find myself in a kind of dance with the piece... I begin by leading and then the painting tells me where to go next.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I have been to many fascinating places...but here’s one- sitting in the dining room of a taxi driver and his wife in Greece, and eating goat’s head with brains for dinner.
A book you love:
We just read Ahab’s Wife by Sara Jeter Naslund for my book club, it’s a fascinating story of a very strong woman.
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I have a lot of really good stories.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I am proud that I have achieved most of what has been on my goal setting plans for the past few years: gallery shows, an artist residency, selling my work, and having a studio outside of my home.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Finding the time I want to spend in the studio!
What do you love to do in your free time?
Read, travel, eat good food, cook – and I am slightly obsessed with real estate.
What are you working on right now?
I have a solo show of my abstract oil paintings coming up in Beacon, New York next July, so I am focusing on that body of work.
What do you hope to achieve next?
I would love to be able to make a living solely from my art.