susan sakamoto

Paint has always been a part of my life. Because my dad owned a paint shop, there was talk about colour every night at the dinner table. Often, when I paint I think about my dad, because he taught me not only about colour, but about the physical act of painting, how to hold a brush.

I want to see the energy in the paint. It's not that a painting comes together quickly - I can have layers and layers of 'fast' painting. I’m not so interested in painting realistically. I can do it, but I want more mystery and depth of emotion. I’m very interested in shadows and reflections. Even with any of the flower paintings, the shapes are about the shadows. Sometimes it’s only about the shadow.

I’m always trying to let a stroke be. You have to trust that the line will speak what needs to be said. Sometimes my intention is for it to be more elegant, but it comes out more “spiky” or angular and I think then that there’s some emotion being expressed that I don’t even recognize I’m feeling. I want my painting to be simpler, more minimal, but maybe I'm not, so my painting can't be either.

I also like the slower processes of batik, printmaking, and encaustic, but I still want to see the energy, the mark of the artist. Starting with batik in the mid ’70’s, I loved the surprises and the smell and warmth of the wax. Picking up encaustic took me back to batik 40 years before. I learned a lot from batik about thinking about art, because the batik process is backwards from traditional painting. And printmaking helps you understand value – lights and darks – and how each print can be so different, depending on how much ink remains, and where.

When you’re in a creative mode, you don’t have a sense of time. That first happened to me with batik, but it happens with every creative process. Maybe that’s why my art has become better since I’ve started meditating again. In meditation, I experience timelessness, unboundedness - infinity. Outside of meditation, this feeling of unboundedness remains with me, which frees up the creation process.