Suzanne Menck – July Artist of the Month | Kentucky Water Color artist

When did your creative journey begin?

As I look back on my life, I realize now that I was always creating something, using anything I could get my hands on. It wasn’t until I was 12 or so that I started drawing and painting. From that point I spent my free time drawing, continuing after going to college where I began as a Medical Technology major. I always had my easel set up in my room which made everyone think I was an art major. After soul searching, I decided I was not passionate about Med Tech so changed my major to art. I graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Studio Art. Then life happened, I got married, had a family and put art on the back burner for thirty years.

At what point did you say, “I’m an artist”?

Five years ago, I heard God say it was time to face my fears; the biggest of which was to begin painting again. When I jumped into painting watercolors with both feet and loved the medium, that’s when I said, “I’m an artist”. I realized being an artist is not something I do; it is who I am. The thought processes and the way I look at the world are what define the term artist.

What mediums do you primarily use?

My primary medium is watercolor, but I’ve recently returned to painting in oils as well. I love all mediums and would gladly dabble in everything if I could.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I would have to say my greatest inspiration comes from my relationship with God. As I look at the world, I try to see it through His eyes. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is sad, and sometimes it is dark and brutal. But it is always speaking, and I try to be His voice to tell the story that I see.

How has your artistic journey changed over time?

My artistic journey has been relatively short thus far, but I see the biggest change has been in letting go of the need to paint pretty pictures to receive approval from people. I tried to paint tight, exact renderings, hoping these happy little paintings would garner praise from family, friends, and the public. Although I can still paint happy little paintings, and I occasionally do, I prefer a much looser, style these days. I want my paintings to make the viewer have an emotional response, either positive or negative. If I can do that, I feel my work is a success.

What artist has had the greatest influence on your art journey?

I would have to say there are two artists that have influenced me the most, both are water color artists and both have challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. Lian Quan Zhen and Iaan Stewart, both fabulous artists with distinctly different styles and approaches to painting. Both emphasized the importance of simplifying shapes as well as using lost and found edges. Balancing light and dark and not being afraid to fail.

Who is your favorite artist?

Monet, hands down. I love the movement in his paintings, the color and brushwork are so alive.

How do you overcome roadblocks in your creative process?

When I am feeling stuck in my creative process I tend to walk away and do something else. Many times, I will mow my lawn and paint in my head where I try to work out the problems that I’ve encountered. Other times I will listen to music or watch a movie, anything to get my mind off the issue. Sometimes I have to abandon the painting and go on to something else, because it wasn’t time for that particular painting. I know that if I try to push through, I’m going to end up with rubbish.

What would you say has been your greatest struggle as an artist?

My greatest struggle as an artist has by far been overcoming the mindset that my work wasn’t any good and the need for everyone to like what I do. I finally came to the realization that the most challenging thing about being an artist is remembering that what I do is an expression of me and that is enough.

What advice would you give that you think is crucial for any artist to hear?

Never quit, make time to create, and fill up sketchbooks.