Born in: 1970, Enid, Oklahoma, USA
Lives in: Woodward, Oklahoma, USA
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oklahoma State University.
Describe your art in 3 words: Detailed, Peaceful, True
See More Work: https://www.susanfrechsims.com
"I love to try to capture the world around me in as much detail as I can while not losing the sense of it being a piece of art. I love color as well as black and white and have found the chiaroscuro technique to be fun as well as giving me the base I need for realism. Artists such as Vermeer, Turner, Bouguereau, and Fragonard have such a way with light and atmosphere and have inspired my work."
What themes does your work involve?"Work In Progress" is about the physical transformation a fitness person goes through while also describing an unfinished piece of art. For anyone who is into body building or competitive fitness competitions they know their bodies are changing, going to evolve, to transform. My personal trainer, Cierra Mota, is always saying how her body is a work in progress, and it motivated and inspired me to capture her in the same state in the painting of her. Using the chiaroscuro technique I began the painting only bringing in elements of her in oil while leaving the lovely underpainting to illustrate her physical transition while also giving a nod to the Ancient Greek and Roman statues of physical human perfection I have always loved to study.
Describe your creative process.Every painting begins with a pencil study on transfer paper. I can play around with composition and sizing easier and do not have to worry about messing up a canvas or worrying about how the composition was off later on. This has helped me tremendously in my evolution as an artist. The final brush stroke or highlight is typically the eyes of the subject or the area I really want the focus to be on or the emphasis of the painting technique. I do not always work in a series back-to-back however I do like to continue with themes or series when I have the opportunity to work on originals in between commissioned pieces. Sometimes I never have the feeling a painting or drawing is finished but know I have to stop. Other times I know I can't make any additions or changes and just know it is right.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?There are so many factors that influence my art but I think the beauty I see in the world and people around me have always been the most influential. When I see works from Vermeer or Bouguereau, for example, I am so infatuated with their style, technique, light and shadows, details, and compositions overall I want to jump into the next painting and try it out. I know all the cliche's that artist use as to why they make art but they are cliche's for a reason-they are true. I have always loved drawing but I also had family members like my dad, my maternal grandad, and my paternal grandma who were artists and I grew up watching them or studying their artwork, I was a shy child but art allowed me a voice, a way of expressing myself without having to talk. Without it I feel voiceless.
What are your goals and plans as an artist in 2023?My goals and plans as an artist are the same every year, to become better! I hope to enter more competitions this year and maybe even win one but whether that happens or not, I will continue to grow in ability because I know I have room to improve.
How do recent advancements in technology affect your art practice? How may recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (image generator software) affect the definition of fine art?I believe technology has affected artists both in positive and negative ways. I know for myself I have been inspired by digital art, how they create lighting effects, gorgeous color and compositions and can I replicate that in paint? It is another form of inspiration for me like beautiful photos. However, there are also negative sides to AI and digital artwork when people stop hiring an artist who paints by hand, and their skills that have been hard earned, are disregarded. People who commission art from me are sometimes surprised at how long it may take me to complete a work. Some want instant results or expect a drawing that is an 8x10 to look perfect but when they zoom in they see mistakes the human eye can't possibly see. But I can also zoom in and try to make those corrections.
What is the role of the artist today?I think more than ever before the role of the artist today is to take us away from the ugliness in the world and transport us to one where we feel at home, relaxed, energized, taken to other worlds, a way of coping with stress, loss, longing, fear, anxiety and so on. Artists can capture your imagination whether it is a book, a piece of music, or a painting and enable a person to dream. I chose to be an artist, but I was given the gift to create art by God. I see the beauty in the stars at night or the laughter in my grandkids eyes and I want to capture and share it. I know the standard answers for art in contemporary society but in a world packed with hate and negativity on tv, streets, and movies, I believe artists should show people the beauty and peace that is also out there. A refuge.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?What is good art and what makes it great is very subjective from one person to the next. For me good art is one that can speak to many in a positive way. Great art is one that remains in your mind for years, that quintessential piece of art that transcends all others in beauty, technique, color, harmony, balance, and theme. It stands above and beyond taking you to another place, another time, fantasy or real it doesn't matter as long as you see beyond the paint and you fall in love with it.
This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist