Susan Webb in studio | 2015
photo credit | Sandra Rabhan Kaye
The Descriptive Techniques prose was written early on to explain what I do and use as a painter.

I am mainly an alla prima oil painter, with the occasional use of acrylics and oil sticks, in a limited palette; a lover of drama, mood, balance and chiaroscuro; someone who does still-life when bored, watercolours to challenge thought processes, and life drawing classes to keep skills always moving up a notch.
Strong Women II 1993
20 x 16" 50 x 40 cm
oil on oil paper

Balance, colour, focal point, and tension are among the problems I think about whenever a brush is picked up. If a painting is going well I listen to Bach, Beethoven and beautiful voices. If it is a struggle, then Charlie Mingis, Miles Davis and the Rolling Stones get turned UP so I can just enjoy the moment, relax and stop worrying...it usually works!
A Lilly, Two Tamarillos and a Mandarin
1993
8 x 10" 20 x 25cm
oil on oil board

For a long time I painted lilies at the beginning of each year to see what might have changed in my work. This tiny oil always maintains my interest.
One day I hope to do a large version of it and put the image in the 'really LARGE' gallery!
Central Plateau 1995
acrylic

The amazingly talented Jacqueline Fahey was my tutor at Wanganui Polytechnic Art Summer School in1994. She broke me loose from being an art student, for which I am ever grateful. After a flat-out week, I drove north over the Parapara Range to our cottage at Whakamaru, slept non-stop for 12 hours and made a make-shift studio on a gib wall. Finding some black building paper, off I went. This was one of the results. It was the starter for many of my series on pre-stretched loose canvas.
Torso I 1996
24 x 24" 60 x 60cm
oil on linen

I have a preconceived layout for each new painting but no idea of what it will look like when complete. The hardest part can be to know when it is in fact finished with nothing left to say. This skill having been taught then becomes instinctive.
Kaitorete I 1998-06
location | Canterbury

strata
67 x 44" 170 x 112cm oil on loose pre-stretched canvas
10 black eyelets

Colour with tonal balance is the thing which I rate most necessary to get right when painting, and I guess I apply the same criteria to most things in my life.
The strength of each colour, how it reacts to it's surrounds, what the tension is between each area of a painting and how this all balances the end result is what keep me on my toes as I work away.
Come on, girls IV 2000-01
location | Central Otago

strata
40 x 30" 102 x 76cm
oil on loose pre-stretched canvas
10 eyelets

Next followed the 'Come on, girls' series. Try saying those three words anyway you like and the inflections in your voice will always reflect the mood of any of the ensuing 'Come on, girls' paintings.
The Legacy of Rita Angus III 2000
12 x 16" 30 x 40cm
oil on canvas

Cass, Southern Alps, is the territory of NZ artists such as Rita Angus, Olivia Spencer-Bower, Bill Sutton, and Robin White whose images of Cass could be seen in the Robert MacDougall Art Gallery (now Christchurch Art Gallery). The offer of a crib at Cass to be used when I liked came at a time when space was needed. Cass has space and more. No mobiles, no radio, no TV, no newspapers, no work commitments, no family, no friends, no café society. Just time...
Inland I 2002
location | New South Wales, Australia

20 x 60" 50 x 152cm
oil on canvas

This work about the arid hinterland near Canberra became a parent of some of the 30 works in the 'Trees' series. It was when I craved doing long unbroken brushstrokes of full, luscious oil. In the beginning these used to take at least six goes to get them looking as though they were but a moment's whim. The 'Stand Alone' series is the culmination so far. Examples can be see in 'really L A R G E'.
Up North VI 2003-06
location | The Far North

40 x 54” 100 x 137cm
oil & acrylic on canvas

I mainly paint contemporary land and seascapes because that is what always caught my attention long before I started as a mature student in the late 1980s learning how. Summer holiday time up north soon became a source of inspiration.
On the Harbour XII 2004
location | Wellington

20 x 60" 50 x 152cm
oil on canvas

This work was painted over the top of an under-coated canvas which had been prepared with some acrylic paint I had lying around. Random vague splashes. I set up the design and then realised that the top oil painting was being influenced by freedom underneath and which meant another step forward.
Maniototo VIII 2004-05-13
location | Central Otago

strata
48 x 36" 112 x 90cm
oil & acrylic on canvas

For me, the most rewarding paintings are those which combine oils with acrylics.
Oils give luminosity, sensuousness, stability and substance, enabling textural wet-in-wet. Acrylics are abstracted buttery Golden, and free, making toned grounds of unpremeditated results.
Add oils on top and beside.
This combination keeps me on my toes.
Catlins I 2005-06
location | South Otago
20 x 60" 50 x 152cm
oil on canvas

The high I get in starting and completely finishing a work of art in one session is what I treasure. These are always my hot favourites. Interestingly, and it is a dilemma, a work which I regard as my best can be the one painting which is left on the wall at the end of an exhibition. These I keep for my own collection, and the public comes round to them later. Sorry, it’s now not for sale. Its mine...Haha.
Land of my Fathers 2006-09
location | South Otago

20 x 60" 50 x 152cm
oil on canvas

As a descendant on one side of my family from the Scots, I have travelled around Southern New Zealand to see where those early settlers came to. The Catlins on the coast is just down the road from my great-grandparent's founding settlement of Waitepeka, South Balclutha as shown above in 'Land of my Fathers 2006-09'.
Queenstown II 2010
12 x 72" 30 x 182cm
oil on canvas

"She also ventures inland to Central Otago in New Zealand’s South
Island, focusing on views from the highways and seeking out particularly
attractive patterns of the light on both hills and tree clusters along the
way. All of this is created together in her own distinctive technique and style that makes Susan unique among the artists of her time. " - the late Denis Robinson, 1940-2012. Editor and compiler of many books about New Zealand painters.
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Artist's Collection

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