Oil Painting Workshop Announced


“Breaking through to success” oil painting workshop will introduce participants to 4 secrets to apply to take their paintings to a new level. The focus will be “From flat to 3D: adding form and dimension to your paintings.” Students will use photos for reference, but will have opportunities for observation and practice in plein air painting. To register, find out more information, or inquire about commissions, email Susan: spatton251@gmail.com .

Plein air series: Memories from my childhood- “Bean Truck and Grape Soda”

Dusty seats are not new for this old orange truck. When I was a little girl, I would ride the combine with my Pop, and then watch as he swing the dinosaur neck-like funnel over the back of this truck and pour the soybeans into it. The dust would be thick in the air and by the time we loaded up into this truck to take the soybeans to town, the seats had their fair share of dirt. I remember how bouncy the ride was on the way. I sure don’t remember seat belts or any mention of sitting too close to an airbag! My Uncle Dale would drive and tell jokes to us, like, “Willie make it? Betty don’t!” (as we slowly made it up a hill in the heavy truck). My brother and I would sit in the middle with my Pop on the other side. We would pull up to the grain bin and I would be anxious to get out quick before the operator raised up the truck to dump out the beans. We would escape safely into the building where my Uncle would go into the office and get a report on the quality of the harvest, and my Pop would reach into the single row- Pepsi machine with glass bottles of various flavors of soda to get his “grands” a drink. I would always get grape. My brother liked orange, I think. We would wave to the lady in the office and then on our way we would go.. back into the bean truck to head home.

Plein air series: Memories from my Childhood- “The Old Grain Bin”

Imagine a time before cell phones, seat belts, cd players, and microwaves. Now go to a place where the wind is always stirring and hard work is always happening. Think about old tools, barn cats, grafted trees, and remnants of corn husks and soy beans on the ground and you’ll get close to seeing and feeling what I do when I go to the barn.

I have begun a series I am calling, “Memories from my Childhood.” I plan to go to various places that stir these feelings in my mind and document them in paint and in word on this blog.

This first painting, “The Old Grain Bin”, is a painting of one of the 2 grain bins on the hill at the barn. I remember my uncle on the roof of it when it was full of harvested corn. It is now a storage bin of sorts, but still proudly holds its place on this sacred hill.

“Old Black Ford”

Old black Ford“Old Black Ford” 9 x 12 Oil

I wrote a song based on this truck:

“The Roads I Learned To Drive On”

Sittin' on a pillow in that old black Ford
Both hands on the wheel...
Dad climbed in beside me and it seemed like then
That time stood still....
Dad said check your mirrors and told me turn right
Stay between the lines and you've got the green light.
Now follow this road, son, and we'll end up back home.
I couldn't understand seemed so far I'd gone.
Pulling up to home never felt so good...
We'd made it back just like he said we would.

These are the roads I learned to drive on
This is where I used to roam.
This is where I learned what love was,
And how to get back home.

Sittin' in the back of that country church, I heard the preacher say:
"The Roman Road is where you can find 'The Truth, The Life,The Way.'"
It starts by checking mirrors and finding out,
What you need to clear before heading out.

These are the roads I learned to drive on
This is where I used to roam.
This is where I learned what love was,
And how to get back home.

Now drive....
I'm right here beside you...
Forever to guide you...

Sittin' on a pillow both hands on the wheel, my Father leads the way.
He tells me the truth and he saves my live and he shows me the way.

He says,
"Turn here,
Stay straight,
Stay between the lines...
Slow down,
Good job,
Now just take your time....

Pulling up to home never felt so good...
We'd made it back just like he said we would.

block in truck

-This is a “block in” study done for this painting at a Kenn Backaus workshop





“Radiant”, 30 x 40 Oil on canvas by Susan Patton

Painting at a wedding reception was not something I had experience with when I was asked to paint at Zack and McKenzie Stephenson’s wedding. I knew this would be a challenge not only for me as an artist, but also a challenge to capture a  “once in a lifetime” grand moment for them.

iphone dec 15 018

Painting that night, I spent much of my time observing, photographing, and drafting my painting, with emphasis on capturing a moment between the bride and groom and making my painting focus on them. I also wanted to get the “feel” of the atmosphere, and take note of certain elements such as the warm and cool light and the “Silver and Gold” effects of the decor.

iphone dec 15 035

I took a lot of reference photos, and got my painting to the stage of an established center of interest and element of design, but would need to finish it by photos at home. Once home, using my references from my photos and memories of the night, I completed the painting.

The experience helped me grow as an artist. Although the day was much more physically taxing than I had anticipated, it was also an exercise for me as an artist to narrow down and learn to draft a painting quickly, as well as learn the importance of taking a lot of photos which proved helpful later.

iphone dec 15 067

iphone dec 15 059

What did I learn?

Plein Air + “30 x 40” canvas + A live audience + low lighting + Moving targets + A short window of time = Reception Painting

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

I got to witness an indescribable night and meet a wonderful family who has seen the Lord’s Hand on their life, and that = Priceless.

iphone dec 15 069









“Moments” wins award at National Juried Art Show


, ,

IMG_2613 (2) IMG_2621 (2)I was honored to win an award at the MGAL (Memphis Germantown Art League) art show in Tennessee this weekend for my painting, “Moments.” Thank you to Paul Jackson for choosing this painting for the Magna Bank Award. This show was beautiful, and I felt so honored to be a part of it! These paintings will be on display at the beautiful WKNO gallery Ten Ninety One in Cordova, TN, until August 28.

Making “Moments”

20 x 16 Oil on Linen by Susan Patton April, 2015

“Moments”, 20 x 16 oil on linen
by Susan Patton

April 6, 2015

6:30 AM  I wake up refreshed, finally, after an intense week at an art workshop. (My mother, Dot Courson, hosted a Kim English workshop last week.) Along with his “boot camp” style of painting that teaches capturing figures quickly, I also had my own challenges of getting my kids there every day to either serve as a model at the workshop or complete lessons in their homeschooling. This required a car load of options for costumes and school books, along with my painting gear (that usually included unwashed brushes from the day before because of falling into bed exhausted.) This morning, I wake up after a good nights rest, and wonder what I should do first catch up on laundry or dishes. Instead, I grab a cup of coffee and sit in my familiar chair where I read my morning devotion and pray for all those I have jotted down to pray for on the front and back of 2 index cards. These names include my former art instructors at these workshops, because they have encouraged me and I ask God to bless them and lead them.

7:30 AM   I get up from my chair and begin the day.

3:30 PM    School is finished for the day. Some clothes from the laundry room have amazingly and successfully reached the right destination. I glance in my art studio and decide that I should paint. A surge of adrenaline and excitement fill me with extra energy as I begin to dive into this great privilege of painting.

3:45 PM     I look through photographs, and choose one that I took this past week at my Mom’s house. It is of Faith and Cane (Mom’s dog.) I took it one evening after Faith had been the model at Kim English’s workshop. She was so tired, and came in her Nana’s house and found a cozy chair away from the crowd. Cane made his way over to her to sit quietly with her. As I came down the hall toward them, I saw the beautiful lighting of this scene and snapped a picture with my phone.

I pick up an 8 x 10 canvas (being conservative), but quickly and boldly put it down and grab a 16 x 20 linen canvas and decide to do this one for Mom.

I choose my colors: Rembrandt permanent red, Cad yellow, Ultramarine blue, black and white. I pre-mix piles of color on my wooden easel with my palette knife large piles of dark and then light values on the opposite side.

I grab a brush and draw the general design that I want, and then start painting.faith and cane 2

I start with where I want Faith, and then paint the darks around her, staying true to the color temperatures and values. I don’t paint all over the canvas at once this time as I have done many times, but almost fill in from left to right- an unusual approach for me, but it is feeling right.

5:30 PM  I feel hungry, but it its hard to stop when I feel I am on a role. I stop long enough to eat a quick bite of supper and get back to work.

6:00 PM I continue painting, noting where the lightest lights are and the strongest edge work should be. I also see that I want to connect Faith and Cane where the values and color are so similar at their legs. By this time I am holding about 4 or 5 brushes simultaneously in my hands to keep the values and colors accurate and clean. It keeps me focussed and quick more than washing between values.faith and cane 4

faith and cane 10

9:00 PM   I begin to referee the kids towards bed, keeping my mind in gear on my painting the whole time, it seems.

11:15 PM  I paint like a ninja now, quietly placing the brushes down and moving slowly around the room since my studio is in the center of the house and everyone is asleep  . Finally, I have covered the entire canvas, and I “halt” the painting not letting myself go back into the individual parts of it to tweak anything. I call it a night, and my painting, “done.” I text Mom a picture of it and let her know it is hers. I name the painting, “Moments”, because it captured a time that Faith needed a “Moment” alone, Cane needed a “Moment” with Faith, and the whole scene revealed just one of the “Moments” that I don’t want to forget.faith and cane 9faith and cane 7(This picture also shows a Dawn Whitelaw portrait study in the background. I keep it visible in a place I can study it often.)
faith and cane 8