We will be featuring artist Susan Duke.
Susan Duke has been painting all her life. Many of her happiest early memories are of sitting at an easel, looking through the window and painting impressions of the scenery outside. Her father was a highly decorated Marine pilot and photographer with rapidly changing assignments; her mother was a schoolteacher with a sense of adventure -- so the family moved frequently. Both of her parents preferred the freedom of living out in the country to the structure of base quarters, so Duke grew up exploring forests or beaches, wading in streams and following shafts of light into hidden magical places. Serious blood chemistry illnesses during childhood resulted in a prognosis of only a 2% chance of survival, but experimental medical technology coupled with her indomitable will to live eventually triumphed. Duke states that facing death at such an early age gave her an indelible perspective about how precious, beautiful and fleeting our time here on earth is. To occupy the long periods of convalescence, the young girl was encouraged to further her studies in art. She took private lessons and due to her talent, she was even sometimes allowed to enroll in adult classes. She soon began to win awards which resulted in selling her first commissioned painting at 12 years old. After winning a contest at 17, she experienced a whirlwind career as a New York fashion model. By 19 she had married and given birth to a wonderful baby girl. The marriage didn't last, but her child has always been a joy and inspiration for the artist. She says that love and responsibility gave her motivation and strength far beyond anything she had ever imagined.
As a single parent, Duke set out to make a living through painting and graphic art. After several years of financial struggle she realized necessity of a college degree to provide avenues to a more stable income. With characteristic determination, Duke put herself through college on academic grants and a bicycle -- typically cycling around 20 miles a day to attend classes.
After completing college with a dual degree in graphic communications/journalism, Duke worked for the next decade as an art director and illustrator for major international companies such as the New York Times and EF Foundation, earning 23 state and national awards. Her goal had always been to become a professional fine art painter, so after raising her daughter she was finally able to successfully pursue her cherished vocation. Today, she is happily married to her best friend of 40 years, Patrick Posey, a songwriter and musician. They live in a romantic cabin in the deep dark woods of northwest Louisiana. Duke's vivid Impressionist oil paintings have been shown in galleries throughout the nation and are represented in numerous private and corporate collections coast to coast.
When asked about her work she responded
"My paintings are created as an antidote to anxiety. Each of my original Impressionist oil paintings is meant to be a window of imagination into a special healing place of beauty and energy. The impact of modern life's frantic pace coupled with the daily digital media onslaught leaves many people stressed and in need of a break - a contemplative moment - time to take a deep breath, relax and allow both body and soul to refresh and renew. A subtle sense of peace and hope is the gift I want to convey to viewers each time they see my work. When I am painting, I lose myself in the colors -- the intricate interactions of the fluid oil pigments are a constant and complete fascination to me. "