Who am I,
Where do I come from,
Where am I -potentially- going?
If you want, here’s some keywords/shortcuts to directly jump to a section.
If you feel like going for the full version, take a deep breath, let’s do it:
I’m Suzon, 24yo french based in London since 2016. I grew up near Tours, along the Loire Valley, and moved to Lyon at 17yo. There I studied video editing and post-production, and 3D modelling for video games. Until then it’s fair to say I’ve always enjoyed drawing and also tried acrylics, but it wasn’t in my mind that I could one day engage in anything artistic.
September 2016, I came to London without much of a plan, small jobs and a growing desire to fill a sketchbook. For the new year, I booked a Portrait painting class: ten Friday evenings falling in love with oil paint. With the precious support from my family and friends, I fought my doubts and decided to give painting a go: I applied to a 2-year Portraiture Diploma at The Art Academy.
September 2017, I was lucky to start as a full-time student. I met wonderful tutors, peers, and friends, and slowly started to allow the idea that I could ‘be an artist’. The self-doubts got more manageable as the fun and joy increased, and those who know me can tell how much I'm enjoying this life.
September 2018, I decided to finish my final year as a part-time student, to allow myself more time to develop and savour before graduation.
It also gave me the opportunity to engage into another unexpected yet beautiful activity: life modelling.
Here, I’ll quickly go back to 1994, when I was born with my own kind of fingers and toes (amniotic band syndrome, #suzonshand). This could be a whole story in itself, but shortly: I came to love this difference very much. Yet seeing it in painting wasn’t this simple at first, but felt important. Deciding to life model was another challenge of mine towards that.
I’m now very happy to do it, and thankful to those who helped me in the first steps.
I loved 2018.
It begun by me realising how much fun I could have doing pictures.
It might sound silly, but I started to understand it was up to me to:
- Decide how to paint, literally (not necessarily at an easel)
- Filter what interests me to look at (funny shapes, tangents, illusions of volume/flatness, unexpected things…)
- Find ways to say it (hopefully this will never get static)
In March two of my paintings were exhibited in Somerset House, within the Animal Rights exhibition ‘Free the Voiceless’. They've now joined a collection of vegan art. You can probably guess this was important to me.
Recently I’ve been struggling to produce images directly related to veganism. Still need to figure out how I want to do it.
In June, for my diploma, I had to produce a large scale painting (150*150cm).
It appeared like a great opportunity for a self-portrait, and for the first time I felt it would allow me to paint things that I don’t express otherwise. The long hours it took to complete it and its enveloping scale made it a very special experience. As it approached finalisation and found a title, it somehow became something on its own, beyond what I had planned, and... I got emotional :)
I’m happy this one exists.
I learned a few things about what works for me:
I enjoy planning through sketches and digital manipulation
It helps if the painting balances harder tasks (figures) with meditative low-brain ones (patterns)
It worked to have an idea to start with, then let go while I paint and reclaim some meaning afterwards
I need not to plan too much, otherwise it feels like the painting already exists and doesn’t need to be painted
I don’t mind the ‘meaning’ not being perceived by the audience, once done, it’s not mine to decide what it means more than you.
In October, I participated in my first group show: Shadow Box. I felt incredibly supported when so many of you turned up at the Newington Gallery. The four paintings I produced for this exhibition were an opportunity to explore some ideas linked to my video-game background. It felt the most successful was the less planed, ‘Green’ (60*100cm).
One night I walked pass someone with a grey jumper on which was written I love pink!. I found it fun, the interval between was is enthusiastically expressed and reality. Back home, I photographed my friend for reference. Here’s how I came to paint it:
Once I had drawn the silhouette on my paper, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the scale and didn’t know where to begin. As a left-handed person, I tend to draw right to left. This made me start by her foot on the right-hand side.
When you create for 3D video-games, every volume is reduced to triangles, and every triangles connect to each others: it felt natural to use this strategy as I painted. I was enjoying finding longer lines to describe the way shapes ‘flow’.
Approaching the second knee, I started to feel bored about this strategy and tried to use bigger shapes and to blend some (I feel it’s the less successful passage).
What I liked above all, was to find tangents: places were shapes that don’t belong together meet. During my studies, I was told to avoid them: they distract the eye and flatten images. That’s exactly why I love them. They play with the illusion of volume and make relations through depth, visually linking elements that are separate in space, connecting a knee to the foot placed behind.
As I moved to her left shoulder, I thought it would be funny to keep a similar approach but to find ways to flatten the volume, almost to make it feels hollow. Again, getting ‘bored’ by the previous strategy was what inspired me.
I knew I wanted to render this hand ‘properly’. Once this struggle over, it felt that a plain face next to it would contrast the most, so I reduced it back to two shapes.
From the most rendered to the most simplified.
That’s pretty much the story of this painting. Me looking at different ways to play with volume.
At the same time, I was incredibly lucky to be selected for ‘In The Studio’, a new project from the Mall Galleries, helping young artists to develop with support from their art societies.
A wonderful opportunity to meet practising artists, to visit their studios, to understand more about the Federation of British Artists and societies, and to have a better insight into what ‘being an artist’ can mean.
It’s also a chance to meet peers with varied background and practices, to support and inspire each others as if we were benefiting from our own micro-society.
To me, this ‘journey’ has already been surprising, intense, joyful, fun, hard, worth it, important…
And 2019 sounds fantastic, I’m thankful I’ll be able to continue doing what I love:
I’ll keep filling sketchbooks, I’m about to do more etching, I might try sculpting, I’d love to understand better gouache.
I’m working on new paintings and will exhibit with people I love.
I’m grateful, happy and even getting emotional writing this… well, that’s pretty much me, isn't it?