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This month’s Featured Artist, Susan Lambert was born in St Louis but grew up in Harrisburg, IL. Her parents’ story was a true ‘Traveling Salesman’ story. Her mom worked as a pharmacist, finishing up her internship in a drug store in the area, when her dad, a Traveling Salesman (pharmaceuticals) came in the door and was stricken with the sight of her. Six months later they were married. With his experience with pharmaceuticals, it seemed the thing to do to study to become a pharmacist too. They ended up buying the store where they met! How’s that for a romance story?

Susan put herself through school. Her undergrad degree was in Art History and Studio and her Master’s was Expressive Arts as Therapy. She worked in correctional institutions in southern Illinois since 1986 until she retired from them in 2011 and started teaching in the public school system in 1995 or 96. She retired from school teaching in 2015. She has worked at both the Shawnee and Vienna Correctional Institutions teaching important Life Skills, Culinary Arts, leading to jobs for inmates, upon release, and Drawing skills. She worked long hours having both day and night classes teaching things such as ‘which way is north or east’, cake decoration, plate and table presentation, food preparation, flower arranging, drawing. As an art teacher she worked with both elementary students and high school students, in different buildings, attending both groups each school day. Our artists are very interesting and unique people!

She joined the PAPA Gallery in 2012, a great addition to what we both think of as a great group of people. Susan says PAPA has been a great influence on her growth as an artist. Oil is her favorite medium. She loves colored pencil, too. Sometimes she uses glazes when painting and sometimes she works wet in wet. Colored pencil is also a ‘glazing like’ medium in that you have to work in translucent layers. She does do a little with watercolor, but mostly as quick sketches and studies, and has started experimenting with printmaking through woodcuts.

Susan has several favorite artists, for varying reasons. She likes Caravaggio for his dramatic use of darks and lights, Rembrandt for his dramatic brush stroke with big brushes. She has several painters she likes that worked with glazing including, in no specific order: Maxfield Parrish, Titian, Van Ick and Vermeer. Van Gogh is a favorite because he gave such life to his art. Jonathan Queen a new favorite, is a current artist. He uses classic, antique toys in symbolic allegorical still-lifes. And finally, one of her favorite paintings is The Red Room, by Matisse. She’s not sure exactly why, maybe his use of space, but it fascinates her. Her favorite subject, what inspires her – is Light.

When I asked her what special thing she would like everyone to know she said, “I just keep learning.” Susan’s paintings never disappoint. They always have a warmth, and personality. You care. They reach you. Please stop by this month and see her show in person. Look around the gallery for other pieces. I sold one her gems just last week to a visitor who was just delighted with it.