In conversation with…Susan Lim

Hi everyone, this weekend i have asked my friend Susan Lim who is a fabulous artist to be my guest for this blog. Sharing my conversation

Hi susan, welcome to my blog. Would you like to introduce yourself to my readers

Thank you for having me here Pratik.I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I moved to Boston for a degree in music from Berklee College of music. But ended up in Los Angeles because I graduated and majored in Film Scoring. That’s how I ended up in CaliforniaGrowing up, fashion and art was not a career move that is approved by many parents. I wanted to be a fashion designer but end up being a music teacher. But I knew there are more to life than just teaching musicI never dreamt of being an artist but here I am pursuing an art career.

Wow, so did you get yourself trained in art.

I knew getting a formal training in art will not be necessary. I just wanted to have fun with art and get out of being sad from one of the toughest time of my life. So with a gift certificate from my father in law, I enrolled at a local art school Kline Academy and started classical painting method in oil painting. I attended class almost every week for almost two years. And took some workshops with artists I like.

Is there any method in which you learnt. As i know most of the academies start from bargue drawing

I started what the instructor called it the compass rose. Starting with a tonal underpainting and layer on with glazes and opaque colors.

It’s interesting because I started learning how to blend and prep with an underpainting. Next, we copied the old masters with a reference of our choice

If someone wants to be an artist, what methods would you tell them to follow. Its not always possible for everyone to have formal training from best ateliers because of several reasons. Does it help to copy from the masters? I think more practice is required for learning classical art

It really depends on what you’re interested in. For an impressionistic style of art, you would paint directly on whatever substrate they choose to paint on. But if you would like to paint like Rembrandt, the approach will be completely different. You build from an underpainting and layer from there so that the painting glows from within

It helped me tremendously in so many ways to copy the masters. The best way to learn is to copy whomever you love most in the style you want to paint in. I think you need to spend time to hone your skills. No matter which method you choose to paint in.

Which artist has influenced you the most

I started with Guido Reni and Carlo Dolci, both Italian painters. I’m always going to be a little biased since they got me started with classical painting. But I also think Bouguereau influenced me in the way I blend my paint.

I would like to know the brands of colours you use. Few brands are not available in all the countries. Sometimes it affects the quality of work too

I’ve been taught to use only Artist grade paint and my favorites has been Gamblin, Rembrandt, Michael Harding, Rublev, Winsor & Newton and Williamsburg. Perhaps my least favorite is Williamsburg since they are usually a little stiffer than I’d like. It also depending on the pigments, I use a certain brand for a certain color.

That’s really interesting. Few artists are very selective for pigments

They certainly have their favorites. It’s important to select companies with high quality pigment especially if you paint with a colorful palette.

Mostly you make portraits so how do you choose the subject. What’s your inspiration

I choose my subject based on the mood the model conveys. I’m drawn to a certain emotions and I try to stay away from smiley faces. I love the challenge in bringing out subtlety and nuances on people’s faces. The smallest change in angles and shapes create a completely different emotion.

You have also painted that huge tin which is really amazing. Some artists like to experiment with their art and explore,  do you believe in that.

Ha ha yes, that was an exciting challenge. Painting metal is completely different from skin tones. The challenge in getting it to shine really excites meWhat inspires me most and gets me out of bed and sit in front of the easel is to paint my own concept. To create some sort of fantasy and tell a story.

So most of the times you paint from imagination.

I’m creative but I still need references to sort of copy from. Or to look for them elsewhere, mostly from the internet. Ideally, I would create my own ideas with models and props.

The portrait of a lady blowing hair is amazing

The lady is actually under the water but because so little is revealed you have no idea where she is yet. I named it Inner Peace and she’s floating in water in meditation. I just wanted to create calm after the pandemic. It felt like that’s what we had to do in the last year. To create calm in within so we can get through the day.

I loved the way you use light in your works

Thank you.

What was trigger when you decided to go out in public and introduce yourself as an artist. As you were not officially trained before and had a different career.

The moment I decided to make this a career, knowing that I cannot live without creating art and having the confidence that I can do it and do it well, sparks the fire within me. I knew I’m an artist when people are willing to pay me for my work. The pandemic really kick started it all.

Most of the artists struggle on pricing. Is there any method for pricing in art

There is not a method really. Every artist will tell you a very different answer. I started low and increase my prices as I go. You know you’re charging too little when you feel ripped off. Lol

I saw you had a workshop with Casey Baugh, how was the experience. Any word of advice which you would like to share

It was one of the best workshop I’ve ever been to. It changed my life. The biggest thing I learnt from Casey is to make sure you get the value right, the color doesn’t matter as long as it’s close. As long as you get the values correctly, you can make subtle changes in colors.

What are the future plans now

I’m working on a collection. It’s an under water series, a combination of soft floating fabric, hair and calm. You’re seeing the first one in progress.

Susan,thank you sooo much for being my guest today and i wish you lots of luck and success for your collection. Keep inspiring

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a privilege.

That’s all guys for this weekend, hope you enjoyed the conversation.  Keep sharing your views in the comment section below.

Follow Susan on instagram


You can follow me too on instagram

Thank you

14 thoughts on “In conversation with…Susan Lim

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