In August 2015, while driving toward Lake Winnapasaki, in New Hampshire, I suddenly noticed how the early afternoon sunlight had become extremely clear and beautiful. I was nearing this very large body of water, which reflects light as you approach it,. The shift in perception is exciting.
Though not a landscape painter in any traditional sense, I find equivalents to core experiences by observing nature. I grew up in rural New England in the 1940s and 50s, so my pictorial language is rooted there.
I usually begin a painting in response to what has happened to me in real life. I choose the medium, whether oil paint on stretched canvas or water color, pencil, pastel, etc., on paper.
There are stages when formal aspects decide procedure, while at other times, the need to express psychological events determines the process in making a painting. I often refer back to an original perception in order to regain a sense of the ground under my feet. Sometimes a painting takes off in an entirely new direction, irrespective of original intention.
The issue of figuration/abstraction doesn’t concern me so much as the desire to construct a visual equivalent which elucidates my personal experience.
Susanna Tanger - November 2015
Notes on Painting
We have the ability to create forms and the capacity, both collectively and individually, to understand them. Like verbal language, visual language is both symbolic and representational. Visual signs ( markings, colors, rhythms, lines and shapes ) implicitly represent our experience in the phenomenal world.
I construct a painting with an approach which allows unexpected forms to occur. This circumstance is brought about through patient work with paint and brush, gradually understanding the physical and illusory aspects of each pictorial space. The process is purposive in allowing unconscious expression to happen. My paintings are usually abstract in the sense that they derive from aspects of nature but are then transformed into an intensification of what I understand to be most essential. Allusion to a figure will be made by representing parts of it in a visual passage; the eye is led along a path replete with echoes and reiterations of an essential and central form. Partial configurations suggest a complete configuration which cannot be represented in its entirety. An allusion will refer to an original form using synecdoche and metonymy as figures of expression rather than the metaphorical reference utilized more appropriately in verbal language.
The approach I take in discovering the reality of a painting derives from a constant oscillation between the subjective and objective poles of experience.
Susanna Tanger - May 1995