Susan Coussens BA (Hons) Fine Art, a Fellow based at The Fenners Letchworth, is a figurative artist in love with the human figure.
How would you describe your current practice?
My name is Susan Coussens (although everyone calls me Susie) and I am a figurative artist. I work on a fairly large scale and if I ever get the opportunity and space I would work even bigger! I usually work on canvas painting with oil paint and acrylic but I am not limiting myself as I look forward to using different mediums and supports as I advance through my career.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just exhibited at the Hertford Theatre Gallery and it was of great interest to see my work out of the studio as it gives the artist a chance to “see” the work in a different environment.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I am currently in my final year as a Fellow of Digswell Arts Trust and I am working on various ideas which I can hopefully exhibit at the end of my tenure.
What is the question you get asked about your work and how do you answer it?
I often get asked about why I started to paint so “late” in my life. I always explain that I always knew from a very early age that I would be an artist I just didn’t realise it would take me quite so long to actually achieve that ambition! I think we need to understand that not all people have the same opportunities in life as others and sometimes – due to many reasons – it can take a lifetime to get to that place where you can finally be who you were born to be. BUT – as I intend to get to the big 100 – 71 years aint so old is it?
What or who inspired you to be an artist and why?
Again, I always wanted to be an artist but it just never happened. When I retired I tried various art classes but none of them really satisfied me artistically. Then one day I went for a life drawing class run by an artist called Ken Taylor – and it was he who told me week after week that I should take my talent and get myself a fine art degree and when I finally took his advice he was overjoyed. Although he didn’t actually inspire me as such he did encourage and support me in every way he could. I could always ask him stupid arty questions and he would answer each question wisely and knowledgeably – I wouldn’t be writing this without knowing Ken. Sadly Ken dies whilst I was taking my degree but his influence on me was life changing as he believed in me. So thanks Ken – forever grateful.
Which artist do you most admire and why?
I was lucky enough to live and work in London and I always made sure I visited an exhibition at least once a month. Over a period of 40 years I think I covered most genres and art movements of the 20th century. I have an open mind about art and I always go with the “what I like” discipline rather than the “what’s trendy” scenario. That way you can enjoy art and not feel bullied into a sense of having to like something just because it is flavour of the month. That having been said – I’d quite like to be flavour of the month me self!
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
I’ve always been proud to say I am a Digswell Fellow and it means so much to me that I am part of a select and elite band of artists. I am and always will be eternally grateful that I have been given the chance to emerge and grow my artistic practice and the provision of an affordable studio enables me to work and create in a safe environment. I always try to pass on my good fortune and knowledge to those fledging artists who are as unsure as I was by giving them advice and encouraging them to apply as I did to Digswell so they too can further their artistic journey.