One morning last May, Suzi Thayer woke up thinking about her first love. No, it wasn’t a person, a place or the Mary E even … it was painting. Her art.
“I’d left it in the dust for almost 10 years. That day I made the decision to immerse myself in painting, and selling note cards and prints of my paintings,” Suzi recalls as if it was yesterday. “I wrote my last Lincoln County News column, “Food, Life and Manhattans,” in late May 2019. The first line read, ‘A few weeks ago I decided to trade in my laptop for paintbrushes.’”
And a varied mix of watercolor palettes ...
Now, not quite one year later, not only has Suzi been painting to her heart’s content and selling note cards of her paintings – most recently during the holiday gift show and sales in Boothbay and Wiscasset – she has a website to announce!
That’s right. The site is https://sthayerart.com. Her cousin Richard Provonchee who lives in Cushing designed the site that went live a few months ago. Suzi says it’s a work in progress with over 25 images (and counting) of her note cards, most of which are accompanied by journal-like descriptions of where she was when she painted the scene, memories of growing up on the coast of Maine, and especially summers in Cushing. All of the images will also be available as mounted prints very soon. Sizes range from 6” square to 10” square with other horizontal and vertical options.
One favorite painting of mine is “Caldwell.” I love the rhythm of the clouds and the water ... the small buildings on the island … the way the sand feels between my toes ... I’d love to be lying on that beach area near the pink rugosa in bloom, breathing in that delicate yet highly intoxicating scent ... while sipping a crisp white wine, or, as would be in Suzi’s case, a thoroughly chilled shaker of Manhattans!
Here’s the journal entry for “Caldwell.” Suz writes, “I painted this one day while sitting on Caldwell Island, off the town of Port Clyde, Maine, and a short boat ride from my family cottage in Cushing, seen in the background. Caldwell is a small island that I and my parents and siblings, and cousins and aunts and uncles, spent a lot of time on in the good old days. My father used to take our family of six, and our dog Topsy, out for the day. We’d build a little fire on the shore and cook hot dogs, and then walk around the island. It was a tradition to walk the entire perimeter of whatever island we ventured to, be it 1/2 mile or three. On Caldwell we often found rocks with garnets in them.”
So yes, Suzi still uses the laptop she “traded in” — not to the same extent she did as a reporter and columnist for the Boothbay Register and most recently, the Lincoln County News. Then she was painting with words. Now she’s writing in watercolor.
Suz loves to feed her soul painting plein air the subjects she loves most: pine trees and rocks along the Maine coast, the ocean near the family home in Cushing (she really, really loves being in Cushing); islands, woods, and flowers. I had a friend who described herself as “floral by nature;” I think this phrase could be used for our Ms. Thayer too who paints flowers because “they’re gorgeous and beg to be painted.”
Landscapes, waterscapes and floral portraits, summer cottages … all things Maine, preserved in her memory, reborn in the luscious watercolors of the artist’s imagination onto canvas.
“I don’t see my landscapes as typical, realistic landscapes. I love using a wide scope of colors, and I like to add notes of whimsy: a flamingo standing beside a black and white cow; a crow in a setting where it doesn’t necessarily belong; a red stripe across a painting of a marsh,” she said. “I’m working on a large painting now of a lawn, with trees along the back periphery, and mourning doves and crows walking on the grass. There are a few seagulls flying in, and with the help of some watercolor gesso, I’ve added a Toulouse Lautrec dancer sitting on a red stool. Yesterday I gave her a Manhattan … And she definitely changes the dynamic of a backyard in Maine.”
You’ve gotta love it – and imagine! Suzi giving a painting subject a Manhattan? Hey, may as well share that signature drink … And check this out: Suz is now painting a Tahitian beauty (a la Gauguin) sitting on Turtle Rock in …. could it be in Cushing? You know it.
Suzi met many artists over the decades at that family home in Cushing – including John Wissemann and Nancy Wissemann-Widrig, with whom she remains in contact.
John, an internationally known painter, printmaker, and art instructor observed, “She tackles the most difficult medium: water color with such energy that her unique touch animates the work. Her color cheers. Her subject matter reflects her quiet enjoyment of life.”
Added Nancy, “It has been our delight to know Suzi since she was a beautiful young first mate on a windjammer, through her development as a graphic designer and writer never neglecting her true love of serious painting.”
Suzi says having a talent can be both a blessing and a curse. “Because I’ve always had the compulsion to make art, and because I think of it as a gift, I hate to waste it. I have, though, wasted too much time being frivolous, and working full time, through necessity … But art and painting have always been my first love, and I’ve never been free of guilt when I wasn’t painting. I made the decision a year ago to devote whatever time I have left, to it. And I’m loving it.”
So are we; loving it, I mean. And now with her first website reaching everyone visiting cyberspace and her store on Etsy (SThayerART) people around the globe are sure to be lovin’ Suzi Thayer’s art too.