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 Susan Lyon  (1969 - )

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Lived/Active: North Carolina/Illinois      Known for: genre and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 4
Susan Lyon
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Growing up in Oak Park, Illinois, Susan Lyon studied at the Art Institute of Chicago* and earned a degree from the American Academy of Art*.  She painted at the Palette and Chisel Club*, a mansion converted into studio space by art students, and there in 1989, met Scott Burdick, whom she married in 1993.  Exhibiting there from age 23, she became the youngest winner of the prestigious Gold Medal for Oil Painting two years in a row.  Other exhibition venues have been the Oil Painters of America, Laguna Plein Air Painters, and the Northwest Rendezvous.  She and her husband also have a two-person show each year.

"Her initial interest in art was sparked by a television show on Georgia O’Keefe. "I hadn’t seen art like that before.  Her work touched me emotionally and seemed so personal -- I saw a television program on her life and that inspired me to take drawing classes." (website)

Her style is a combination of realism* and impressionism*, and she credits Anders Zorn, Nicolai Fechin, Joaquin Sorolla, and Cecilia Beaux as special influences.  Her first subjects were still lifes, primarily toys, dolls and stuffed animals, but she began painting figures more and more.

She and Burdick, seeking a quiet, rural existence, have a home and studios near Winston, North Carolina.  From there, the couple enjoy traveling to locations throughout the world in order to experience the culture and view the people first hand.  Among the places they have visited are Europe, Turkey, Greece, Canada, Mexico and Asia.

Lyon has been collecting shawls and costumes from these overseas trips for over 15 years and at least once a week, she and Burdick hire models to come to their home studio and they put the costumes to use for their paintings.  They also invite local artists to their home to paint from the models and to share some camaraderie.

Southwest Art, May 2004
Art of the West, July/August 2005
Website of the artist

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary


Biography from Conservation Design Inc:
Susan Lyon grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. Her initial interest in art was sparked by a television show on Georgia O'Keefe. "I hadn't seen art like that before. Her work touched me emotionally and seemed so personal -- I saw a television program on her life and that inspired me to take drawing classes.

Lyon studied painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and was an active participant in Chicago's 100 year-old Palette and Chisel Club. It is there she first began exhibiting and selling her work; at twenty-three she was the youngest winner of the prestigious Gold Medal which she won two consecutive years in the annual Oil Painting show plus a third place in the Silver Medal Watercolor show. She entered the Oil Painters of America show once and got 7th place. In 1998 and 2000 she won an artist choice award in the Northwest Rendezvous Show.

Susan is a member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group in Helena, MT and was one of 50 artists who participated in the Laguna Plein Air painting competition in 2000. The shows are great to meet other artists and make contacts but the stress of painting on the spot is too much for her. She has been apart of numerous group shows but mainly exhibits with her husband in two person shows each year.

Susan draws much inspiration from painters such as Anders Zorn, Nicolai Fechin, Joaquin Sorolla, and Celia Beaux. Lyon's technique is to paint wet on wet to start and then wet on dry for her finishing touches. She occasionally thins her oils with mineral spirits to obtain a balance of scratchy brush work against thick opaque strokes for the lights. "My style is realistic with as much impressionistic color as possible. I like to combine wide brushes for sweeping strokes in the background with small, soft brushes for subtle details in my center of interest."

Many of her ideas come from the everyday objects that surround her such as stuffed animals, dolls or the occasional curious kitten playfully exploring her studio. "What I hope to accomplish is to convey the whimsical beauty I see around me as well as to make the viewer smile when they look at my work. When I started out as an artist, I struggled against my own more feminine tastes. I feared people would not take a painting of stuffed animals or dolls seriously. Once I overcame this self-consciousness, I was happy to find that what I enjoy looking at day after day also reaches others. Even when I'm painting fairly traditional things, my greatest joy is figuring out original ways of setting up the most common of still life objects so that they appear dynamic.

Susan Lyon lives in a rural area of North Carolina with her husband, artist Scott Burdick, whom she met at the Palette and Chisel in 1989 and married in 1993. She moved there to escape the hectic pace of city life as well as to experience an entirely different part of the country. Surrounded by nature, Susan's studio allows her the space and privacy to grow as an artist. It also serves as a perfect home-base for her painting trips and travels which have included most of Europe, Turkey, Greece, Mexico, Canada, Nepal, Thailand, China and Africa. "The excitement of traveling, seeing so many new sights, and incredible works in museums; combined with the challenge of painting on the spot make me a travel addict! Even before I go on a trip I'm planning the one after."

Susan's mediums of choice are oil and charcoal, with occasional forays into watercolor.

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