Q&A with Susan Rossiter April 20 2023

The artist in her studio in front of Meandering in Yellow 48”x60” paint and paper assemblage

How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?

I make paint and paper assemblages inspired by colors, shapes, and patterns from the 1950s through the 1970s. Layering papers under and over paint creates a beautiful history and the closer you get, the more history you see - sometimes back to the very first layers.

Could you share insights into your process and current projects?

Retro Floral trio Small paint and paper assemblages on cradled wood panels
I’m very excited to be working on 20 small paint and paper assemblages right now. The final dimensions for each piece will be about 7 ½” or 19cm squares and they’ll hang in a grid together like a family. Some of the pieces will be 3 dimensional or sculptural. The trick will be to make them so they all get along together.

Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work?

For me, making art is necessary; like eating and sleeping. If I have gone too long without creating, I become restless, agitated, and combative. Painting makes me happy and gives me those good brain chemicals.
Series of paint and paper assemblages in progress, becoming part of a group called Autumn Poetry

What influences inspire you and why?

I have a wonderful Aunt who has been sending me interesting things found on her travels since I was born. Tea towels, scarves, ornaments, decorative boxes, papers, postcards, and photos from all over the world were my biggest influence. I started researching some items and found textile designers from the 50s and 60s such as Jacqueline Groag and Lucienne Day. Their use of bold colors, patterns, and shapes stayed with me and started showing up in my paintings.

Can you describe the importance of paper in your work?

I have never been happy using only paint in my paintings- incorporating papers under and over paint creates a unique look you can’t achieve with paint alone. It gives the paintings texture and richness. People often ask me “How did you do that?!”
Retro Floral 12”x12” Paint and paper assemblage on wood panel

Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality?

The inclusion papers, bark papers, and asarakusuishi are especially nice for creating texture under paint. The lotka papers are my favorite. I love collaging with them and love the colors in this series. I also use modern and traditional printmaking processes on the lotka and calligraphy papers to make my own unique collage elements. I keep a paper catalogue with samples and name/product numbers of each paper for reference in the event I need more. The catalogue also comes in handy when people ask what kind of paper I used in a particular piece.
Grey Meandering 4”x4” Paint and paper assemblage on wood panel

Do you ever get stuck?

YES. Getting stuck is just part of being an artist. It’s part of being a human really. I keep a list of things I can do depending on my mood. When conditions are ideal and I can bring my “A-game” I paint and plan, whatever I need to accomplish that day effortlessly. When I’m a little tired or distracted I do other things that will help conditions to be ideal the next day such as clean off a surface in my studio or set up the paint, papers, and substrates so it’s all ready for me to jump into action the next morning. It’s easy to get stuck if your studio is too cluttered and you have no place to work.
Close-up of: Meandering in Yellow 48”x60” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas
If I’m just not feeling it, sick, or stuck, I do something on this list depending on my energy level:
  • Print or paint papers for future use
  • Organize one bin or drawer
  • Go to a gallery, museum, paper or art supply store
  • Look at art books or magazines and make notes on color combinations or patterns for reference
  • Listen to or watch movies, videos, or podcasts about other artists (they all have their struggles)
To me, it’s essential to recognize it’s not the end of the world if you get stuck. It’s an opportunity to relax and refresh. There is something you can do at every level of mood and energy that will help make your next creating session successful. I encourage everyone to make their own lists, so you are ready when the low days come.
(So) Fetch 30”x30” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas

2023 is your year! What do you feel hopeful about with your practice?

As an artist educator for GOLDEN Paints and Silver Brush, I am provided with extensive training on artist products and tools. This year, I am creating some fun “how-to” videos so I can share my knowledge
The Sky is Falling 30”x30” Paint and paper assemblage, wood veneer on canvas

Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress?

I’m honored to be part of Studios on High Gallery in the city's energetic Short North Arts District (Columbus, Ohio). My work can be seen there year-round and as part of our member group shows in February, November, and December. I’ll also be in the gallery 2 or 3 days each month demonstrating many of my processes. Feel free to email me if you’re in the area and would like a gallery tour. In April and October, I’ll be teaching several workshops at the longest-running Mixed Media Artists Retreat in Portland, OR. It’s a wonderful retreat! Workshop descriptions are here: https://www.artandsoulretreat.com/retreat-pdx23-artists.php#RossiterSusan
Susan Rossiter Mid-Century no. 29 48”x48” Paint and paper assemblage on canvas
Close-up of Mid-Century Modern no.29
Example of paper texture under paint “Welcome Home” from the Vessels series. A paint/paper assemblage with silkworm cocoon and twigs on 5”x8” wood panel with ransom note signature

Do you have an online portfolio or another site where folks can view more of your work?

Follow Susan on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/soozrossiter/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanRossiterArtist https://www.studiosonhigh.com/susan-rossiter Current paintings can always be seen at Studios on High Gallery, Columbus, Ohio https://www.susanrossiter.com Susan’s website has examples of work, additional information about the artist, some smaller items for sale, and a workshop and event schedule. While you’re there-please sign up for her mailing list. She offers free demos and gatherings for subscribers and only sends a few emails each year. Thank you for sharing your great work, experience, and inner working insights, Susan.