Suzanne Brown is currently a freshman at Valpo. While studying as a biology and international economic and cultural affairs major, she also pursues a passion for acrylic painting. 

Brown began her artistic journey after the death of a loved one and a mentor.

“My grandmother passed away when I was eight years old and the woman that lived across the street, her name is Pat Cowen... She is a major art influence in my life. She paints, she does photography, all different kinds of mediums, and she’s been doing it her whole life. She has been such an inspiration to me that every time I think about her I start to tear up” Brown affectionately recounts.

Brown’s first piece was a non-objective piece through which she expressed the stress of a transitional period in her life. 

“I was feeling particularly stressed about my life. I was going to go to a boarding school and I hadn’t quite processed the idea of being away from my family. So, I painted something that looking back has shown isolation” said Brown.

Her art journey shifted after she came back home. 

“My pieces had gotten a lot warmer, a lot more socio-centric than they used to be. My first piece was black and white with a few bits of color and I’ve gotten to know myself and have gotten closer to my family. I started dabbling in colors like yellows, oranges, and pinks. There’s not as much isolation in the pieces anymore”

When asked about the level of consciousness autonomy Brown used when making artistic decisions on coloration, she said, “I didn’t realize the changes I had made until I looked back at it.”

Brown also taught herself to glide her paint into lines in meticulously without scratching the canvas or layering. “When I start painting, I get into the mindset that I’m going to paint however I want to paint without any judgment because the moment that I start to judge, that when I start to go awry,” Brown said. 

Any paintings that hit a metaphorical wall of judgment, ends up in Brown’s artwork graveyard and the pieces that don’t aren’t off the hook.

“I like to have balance between colors and that it moves a certain way. I want there to be rhythm in each painting. If I feel like rhythm isn’t right I stop working on it. So, I have just as many finished pieces as unfinished pieces” Brown said.

Brown makes many conscious decisions for her paintings. “Sometimes I want one half to be chaotic and very messy and I want the other half to be very structured. Or sometimes I want the background to be chaotic and messy and I want the front to have lines to bring it all together...I want to direct the audience’s eyes” Brown said.

When asked about her use of handprints in paintings, she replied, “I’d say that it’s mostly an identity thing. My M.O. is kind of figuring out who I am, where I want to be, and what I want to do with my life. My mentality, goals, and ambitions change but the body that I’m given is always the same.”

Art is a muse for deeper expression for Brown. 

“I start making a piece because I feel the need to express myself. If the need to express myself originates from the fact that I feel someone else needs to see my ideas and thoughts, I will pursue that” Brown stated.

Brown hopes to share her gift of art with the world throughout her whole life.

To see more of Brown’s artwork, check out her Instagram handle @suzipaints,and her upcoming website, www.suzipaints.com, which will be coming out in a few weeks. Also keep an eye out for her upcoming art showing this January. In addition to showing some of her paintings, she will be selling some prints as well. It will be held at Green Door Books in Hobert. 

If you would like to nominate someone for an artist spotlight feature in The Torch, please contact torch@valpo.edu.

 

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