Sushe Felix Artist Review
The American Regionalist Movement bridged the gap between Realism and Abstract Expressionism in the 1930’s. The artwork of the Regionalists depicted realistic scenes of rural small-town America as a response to the Great Depression. While some Regionalist artists focused on sense of nationalism, others sought to make political statements for revolutionary and radical causes. Artist’s such as Grant Wood, John Stewart Curry and Bernice Bergman captured the American human existence and what everyday life looked like. This short but influential art period did not proceed much past the 1930s.
After the American Regionalist Movement the Modernest Art Movement found its stride in the 1940s. Modernism was a global movement in society, culture, and art that sought a new alignment with the experiences and values of modern industrial life. New imagery, materials and techniques were found by artists that they felt better reflected the realities and hopes of modern societies. Many different styles are encompassed in Modernism, yet they all feature a rejection of history and traditional values and place innovation and experimentation in highest esteem. Artists such as Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, and Vincent Van Gogh all have wildly different artistic styles, but all are Modernist artists.
Galatea of the Spheres, 1952
Brilliant colors, dynamic shapes and forms, and strong contrasting values in her depictions of the American Southwest identify the paintings of Sushe Felix. Sushe takes inspiration from both the American Regionalists and the Modernist Art Movements to show her home in the American Southwest with her own voice. Sushe’s abstracted landscapes divert from reality while still capturing the moments of life in Colorado and surrounding landscapes. For Sushe Felix painting the American Southwest is about capturing her view of life from her specific regionality with her own artistic voice.
Principals of Art:
Space: Space is demonstrated to create dimension in the composition. Sushe creates space by having clear divisions between the foreground, middle-ground, and background. In Rays of Hope note how the foreground in separated from the background with the lake in between them, creating space and depth in the composition of the painting.
Color: Sushe’s work is characterized with her consistent color pallet of warm colors set against deep values that help illuminate the highlights and shadows of the landscape. The cool greens and blues contrast against the warm yellows and oranges and compliment each other.
Shape: A combination of organic and geometric shapes are found in almost all of Sushe’s paintings. The angular and sharp geometric shapes contrast against the curving and soft organic shapes. You can see this in Rays of Hope with how the soft rounded clouds juxtapose against the jagged mountains. This variety in shape adds visual variety and unifies the painting as these shapes are repeated throughout the composition.
Form: Circle is to shape as sphere is to form. The deep and contrasting values help the shapes in Sushe’s work take on form and become three dimensional. The highlights of where the sun hits the mountains and the deep shadows where it does not makes the mountains three dimensional in Rays of Hope.
Value: Value relates to the tint/shade of a hue (color). Every color can be tinted by adding white or shaded by adding black. The purpose of considering value in a painting is to help create both dimension and a mood. Sushe will start her paintings with a black and white underpainting where she establishes the values of her painting. Due to the fact that these values are established early, they remain strong when she then goes in with color. The deep value changes help the colors glow and feel illuminated even when viewed in darkness.
Texture: Sushe paints smoothly with little to no physical texture. Texture is created visually with the changes in shape. Set against the curved tree, the shrub in the foreground of Rays of Hope feels and looks sharply textured.
Line: Sushe’s line work serves to continually change the directionality of each portion of the painting. In Rays of Hope nearly all the lines are diagonal, such as the rays of light, the steep mountains and the curving plants and clouds. The strong horizontal line of the lake give the eye a moment to rest as it travels around the painting. The changes in directionality through line use makes Sushe’s painting more visually intricate and captivating and prompt the eye to move around the composition.
Principals of Design:
Balance: Sushe creates her landscapes with the intention of creating a more perfect version of the landscape. Since Sushe composes these landscapes she has the artistic license to balance the composition as she sees fit. In Rays of Hope you can see how perfectly balanced her work is. The foreground is balanced with the right and left shrubs and bushes. You can also see this balance in how the mountains, lake and clouds take up almost the same visual space, but balance each other with a change in intricacy and detail.
Unity: The unity of a piece is what creates a sense of completeness. The consistent color use helps unify Sushe’s paintings as well as her continued line and shape use. These repeating shapes unify the trees of the foreground all the way back to the clouds of the background.
Variety: Variety is what adds interest into a work of art. The variety of geometric shapes and organic shapes add visual interest for the viewer.
Emphasis: Emphasis is what the artist uses to create a focal point. Focal points can vary viewer to viewer, but a truly successful composition will have one clear focal point that the eye is continually drawn to over and over again. The lighting often dictates the focal point in Sushe’s work as the eye is naturally draw to the brightest areas. In Rays of Hope the eye is continually drawn to the rays of light on the mountains.
Movement: Movement implies motion is a snapshot of time. There is a lot of movement in Sushe’s work due to the changing directionality of the lines and shapes. Sushe strives to depict the rhythms of life and the natural flow of movement found in nature. Note in Rays of Hope how the clouds repeat and add a natural rhythm that feels like movement.
Pattern: Think of pattern as the visual skeleton that organizes the parts of a composition. This underlying structure uses consistent and regular repetition. You can have both natural and man made pattern. There is obvious use of pattern in Sushe’s paintings as she repeats shapes and lines throughout the entirety of her composition. The repeating pattern of clouds, mountains, and plants create harmony and rhythm in Rays of Hope.
Perspective: Perspective is what creates a three dimensional painting vs a two dimensional painting. Her distinct separations of foreground, middle-ground and background shows perspective as the plant life in the foreground is larger in proportion than the mountains in the background. This feels natural to the eye and reflects the perspectives found in nature.
Sushe uses acrylic on panel for her paintings. Acrylic is a water based paint that is quick drying and very sturdy. Most artists start off with using acrylics before transitioning to oils, but they have made a huge comeback in fine art. Due to it’s quick drying nature, the artist can layer distinctly different colors over one another in a short period of time.
Painting on a wooden panel is advantageous for artists that wish to surpass the “bounce” of canvas. A wooden panel is more sturdy and helps an artist achieve fine lines and details. This is clear in Sushe’s paintings with her distinct and clear lines and details.