Susan grew up in Chicago where she attended the Village Art School at a young age. The owner and teacher there was the late Joe Abbrecia who went on to become a very well-known Western Artist. It was a traditional art education, working in charcoal from plaster casts, then oils, then watercolors. Joe recognized her passion and talent and guided her to the American Academy of Art in Chicago after high school.
Fresh out of art school she worked as a freelance portrait artist for a Chicago chain of department stores. She didn't know it then but for the next 4 years she got the best `on the job' training that she could get painting 25-minute portraits, all ages, all types!
A huge advantage to art school in downtown Chicago was exposure to the amazing Art Institute. She fell in love with the Impressionists and became completely smitten with the pastels of that era. Since there was very little instruction at that time in this medium she decided to move to Woodstock, New York to study with Master Artist Albert Handell. It just so happened that Mr. Handell needed a studio assistant. She worked in that capacity for the next two years.
Mr. Handell not only taught her about pastels and oils but also how to teach. He would have her follow him from easel to easel during his workshops. Listening to him answer students' questions and watching his `hands on' approach continues to influence the way she teaches today. After two years in New York she opened her own studio in Chicago where she taught workshops and classes. This led to some years of traveling and teaching across the U.S. Another highlight of time back in Chicago was in the mid 1980's when she had the honor and privilege of painting at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art with another living Master Painter, Richard Schmid. This was a time of tremendous personal challenge and growth. She was juggling a full time career while caring for her late husband who had terminal cancer. Her first husband's death deepened her desire to experience life to its fullest, recording all the beautiful moments through her art.
Susan moved to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s and has lived in Portland since then. She is an award-winning artist, is a member and teacher with the Oregon Society of Artists, and is a Signature Member of the Northwest Pastel Society.
"My life's work is to leave the world more beautiful than I found it. I look for light beauty. It is everywhere... My job is to translate it onto canvas and share it."