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Interview with Susan Relph - Winner of the SGFA ArtistPapers Prize

We interviewed Susan Relph, the lively, creative and intuitive artist who won the SGFA (Society of Graphic Fine Arts) Artist Papers Prize that we sponsored.

So congratulations once again to Susan, her work is full of energy, grace and line. I had a lovely afternoon chatting to her, which really made my month!

Susan has exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and at the Mall Galleries in London with a number of art societies: the Pastel Society, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI), the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the New English Art Club, the Royal Society of British Artists and others, plus solo shows.

Susan Relph - Multiple Studies Drew Hamilton Black susan relphYou started training when you were 15, is there anything that interested you then that still does now?

Apart from drawing people (friends, family, cafes, concerts: musicians and audience, waiting rooms, etc.) LETTERING has always been a fascination- the shapes and the "message"- also as a foundation for overlaid work.

2. Portraiture is a key element in your practice, and you give classes to other artists on this?

Portrait classes in my garden conservatory studio (underfloor heated in winter). Individual private sessions or small groups. Also life drawing workshops with The Pastel Society annual exhibition (10-21 June 2014) - June15 .at the Mall Galleries, London also at the Pastel Society summer workshop week at the White Lodge Centre, Chertsey, Surrey (August 26-29)-August 26 I demonstrate with a portrait model and encourage audience participation(an unofficial sketching workshop!) on 11 June also give a similar session during the Big Draw at the SGFA annual exhibition at the Menier Gallery, autumn 2014.

Susan Relph: SAM_08353. You mention that you love abstract, that for you it's almost like a treat, an indulgence. Can you tell us a bit more about what excites you so much about that?

The opportunity to work without restraint - the Ultimate Creative Threshold!

4. We know you're a member of the SGFA, but you are also with the Pastel Society? Any others?

To be elected as a member of The Pastel Society and an associate member of The Society of Graphic Fine Art was a huge vote of confidence and subsequently a major benefit- support and inspiration from fellow members and the opportunity to exhibit nationally.

5. You intrigued me when you said you rework old watercolours and pastels, can you describe how you re-use the paper?

I am always finding use for "reject" work, sometimes discovering a totally new avenue of investigation. A DILEMMA when both paper sides have value. Sometimes overworking leading to unexpected collage/abstract routes. With life drawing reuse of old watercolour landscapes especially good. As a rule now (it began with severe economy measures) I start a life drawing session with short pose assessment with a medium that can be overlaid without complete wipe out, (watercolour or pastel). Then with long pose study using more powerful "tools" eg inks - So the better the paper the more options for ruthless creative exploration! [you’ll love our Bristol board then and 500 series, it’ll take all manner of creative re-work! the Hot press is deliciously smooth! Ed.]

Susan Relph

6. What is your most important thing in your studio?

The tranquil ambience (old house and garden aspect, taped music or radio playing or not), birdsong. Many "still life" objects and tons of old drawings to recycle.

7. And a fun question, if you were a Strathmore paper, which one would you be?

The Grey. I admire and use all "muddy" colours. They have received so much bad press. SLUDGE is one of my conservatory small wall colours. Mud and vibrant translucence is one of my favourite recipes-the juxtaposition. [I love a bit of Toned Tan myself! Ed.]

Susan Relph: SAM_0889

To see more of Susan's work have a look at her profile on the SGFA website, or the Pastel Society, Weybridge Art Society and the Art Guide for Southern Voice (the latter will be live soon).

Susan also mentioned in her email to me that the Strathmore sketchbooks she won had arrived. “I'm THRILLED TO BITS. Thank you so very much and for such a fast response.” Can’t wait to see what she creates! Hopefully we can persuade her to send in something ;)

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