Q/SF It has been wonderful getting to know you Sue, you have many interests that show up in your art, illustrations. What’s up next for you? Now that you’ve been noticed as one of the exciting illustrators to follow in 2020, would you mind sharing what you have going on in your studio?
A/SF I’m working on writing and illustrating my own books and have four in various stages of development, from picture books to a graphic novel. It is a long journey and picture books are not easy to write. They look deceptively simple but it is that very simplicity which requires each word to be perfect. The kidlit community is welcoming and generous and…
Your textile bird sculptures are wonderfully naïve, yet they represent the subject quite accurately through expression, texture and colour. Each bird has a character of its own and I am curious about your process. How do you capture the essence of bird using fabric, needle and thread?
Birds are a joy, they continue to excite me even during -30 winter temperatures. Birds are my passion, a continual sense of inspiration just outside my window. It doesn’t take much to get me inspired to make a shape of a bird and then layer it with colour and textiles.
I believe that when you share what you love, people want to be a part of it and their enthusiasm sometimes comes in gifts of; thread, fabric, and stories.
Recently a friend gifted me a box of thread, yes! A variety of colours and a real treasure. Once I went to collect my mail and found a bag of fabric piece attached to my mailbox, talk about a surprise bag of inspiration. These wonderful gifts motivate me to get to work.
My process of creativity starts with an abundance of a colour or fabric texture, then, excitement takes over and a bird is formed. I work one bird at a time, which makes each bird uniquely “one of a kind”.
Though, it seems like I’m spontaneous with ideas and creation, I do begin with a bird shape in mind, often having to test and remake the basic form a few times to make it sustainable. The adornment is usually the most spontaneous, then, balance is often the final stage of the bird. Finalizing, the bird is the most difficult for me, sometimes I fall in love with the process and don’t want it to end.
Q/SF I love your idea of creating a combination of hand cut lino with a digitised colour. Is there something artists should consider when making art for fun, or combining art techniques and then adding a little surprise to it?
My linocut technique evolved from a creative exploration that became a passion and then a career. What I love about printmaking is the possibility of happy accidents, the fact that it is not precise, and that there will be flaws as with any hand-crafted media. Years of experience have reduced the accident factor but I still enjoy the act of peeling the paper from the inked linoleum. Although I have a good idea of how the image will appear there is still a…
To celebrate the Lunar New Year, I created another mixed media illustration using my traditional hand-carved lino-cut technique and ProCreate. That little app is pretty versatile and compatible with Photoshop.
According to the Chinese zodiac, the rat is a symbol of fertility and abundance. The rat is intelligent, creative, charming and ambitious. On the downside, rats can be timid, stubborn, greedy, devious and terrible gossips. Rats are compatible with dragons, monkeys and oxen.
Wishing an abundance of happiness and success to one and all!
How does your love of nature and animals inform your art? Does your work with airport therapy dogs influence your creative expression, and could you tell us a little about it?
I believe that my surroundings influence my art; living in a beautiful landscape with wildlife and having my pets part of my personal space, supports my purpose for creating. And, yes Charlie is a nice tactile work of art if I do say so myself, though the airport houses a lot of fabulous art and architecture influencing my own art making as well.
Charlie, and all the airport therapy dogs comfort so many travelers and staff, it’s a true break from the stress of flying or the departure delays & cancellations. It is amazing how open and expressive people are with the dogs; they hug, stroke, talk, even hold their head and look right into the dogs eyes, it can be a personal and touching moment.
I love to build and experiment with a structure, give me a idea like “flamingo” and away I go. I create a base; usually a simplified shape, then layer it with character (colour & pattern), after that I adjust the sculpture so that it can stand on it’s own. I would call it therapeutic, handling the soft sculpture is like observing and talking to a dog, lucky for me I put the art sculpture away when it’s misbehaving.
Changing weather conditions will affect my art practice as well, in Calgary the Chinook arch and the hoar frost are pretty remarkable works of nature. If I’m out for a walk or drive and I’m moved by what I see and feel, when I get to the studio I express my feeling of wow with fabric and threads.
Q/SF Sue Todd, you have illustrated for publishers and writers, even for Spin Master Games!, are there times when you make art just for yourself? If so when do you know when its time to share your creation? and is it a feeling or a critique process that lets you know when you’re work is finished?
A/SF I think it all comes down to one feeling – passion! When something resonates with me for whatever reason, I will get charged up and excited and feel the need to express it somehow, whether as an image or an illustrated story. I often rely on critiques from colleagues and industry professionals before putting a story out there. On the other hand, one must be courageous and confident in one’s creation. I love…
First, I would like to let you know that I met Sue Todd through social media, like most good things we connected because of “like mindedness” and admiration for each others art. A positive note on instagram from Sue Todd was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” we are sharing our passion for art by posting a series of Questions and Answers from each other.
Q/Susan Fae Often times we create an image because it’s in us to create, not always knowing why or how. Your linocut art has a “BOLD and a playful energy” sometimes even a little Goth! What stimulates your enthusiasm for creating and where (how) do you begin?
A/Sue ToddI believe that we creatives are often channels for ideas from the collective unconscious…
Posing a series of questions to my new friend and comrade in art, Susan Fae, provides a glimpse into a fantasy world of 3-dimensional art. We connected through social media where I discovered her delightful bird sculptures formed from fabric, threads and objects, such as the cutlery you see as feet in the photo below. We have created a four-week blog exchange to share our favourite media and art techniques. Susan’s colourful birds are inspired by her love of nature but her passion for opera is also in evidence with these birds representative of The Three Tenors: Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, and Jose Carreras.
Now for Question Number 1:
The lovely Miss Fancy Feet arrived on my doorstep with a linocut greeting card depicting a beautiful butterfly. Which discipline came first, material art or printmaking? What drew you to each technique and do they share any commonalities?
Miss Fancy Feet – through your enthusiasm and encouragement she was created, and has a home that appreciates colourful and unique art. Thank you.
My appreciation and knowledge of fabric came first; both my grandmothers were handy with needle and thread. Reflecting back; I worked in the fabric department in two different stores while going to University in the 80s.
But it was later in life I returned to University to extend my Art Degree (drawing & photography) to “art developmental” so that I could teach art. While in the process of creating art curriculums I had to teach my peers an art form, it was linocut carving. That experience of sharing a process of creating encouraged me to extend the fun into a regular linocut art practice.
It was during a summer Artist’s Residency with my “Contextural” group that I began to combine the two techniques. Surrounding myself with creatives is one way of pulling out something I never knew I had in me, and that was printmaking and thread.
The Contextural Cooperative motivated me to create more textiles, maybe not to what anyone expected (including me) but I began to build sculptures and adorning them with fabric feathers. Along the way, I discovered my resourcefulness in saving found objects on my dog walks with Charlie came in handy, the found cutlery became the support for my bird sculptures.
I haven’t mastered the printing on fabric, but have printmaking with thread. My fabric sculptures share the same theme throughout my art and that is BIRDS.