Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ten Minutes with Artist Sue Rauschenfels

I'm not sure when I first noticed Sue Rauschenfels' work but her contribution to the Dylan-themed show at the Red Mug in May caught my attention for sure. The piece was titled,  “Freedom Tower-World Trade Center Memorial NYC”, a  22"x 26" matted and framed painting in watercolor and mixed media. She submitted it as an appropriate image for Dylan’s song entitled “Chimes of Freedom.”

This past month Rauschenfels displayed more of her work at Beaners Central in Duluth and through mid-September will have art on display at the North End Arts Gallery in Superior as well.

EN: Where did you grow up and how did this shape your life and art?

Sue Rauschenfels: I grew up in Cook, MN, a small town north of Duluth where the community ice rink and warming shack was the place to be 5 months out of the year back in the 60’s. During the summer I spent many days out at Timbuktu Resort with my cousin Nancy swimming, camping, and cruising Lake Vermilion in my uncle’s boat with putt putt motor—carefree small town life. I was blessed with parents who worked hard to provide for me and my 6 sisters a loving home in a neighborhood filled with many playmates with moms at home to also keep an eye on things. My dad had his baseball team even though we were all girls. Our yard was a popular spot for kick ball, kick-the-can and often a tub of ice cream as dad was the milkman in town. I grew up spending much time outdoors exploring nature, hanging out with friends and sisters, taking risks and facing the consequences during a time where kids were given the freedom to figure out life –all while feeling safe. Lessons learned from my childhood have opened many doors of positive life opportunities. I’ve raised two awesome sons, gone back to college and earned degrees in Criminology and Sociology, retired from UMD, blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, and so grateful to be spending time with family, making art, gardening, hiking—anything outdoors. I express my love of family and nature in my art—often telling a story in a landscape, portraying whimsical animals and figurative shapes loosely and colorfully.

EN: How long have you been showing your work and where?

SR: I’ve been fortunate to display my work in various shows and venues in the area during the past couple of years. First time I showed my work was in Just For the Seasons gallery along with 5 other female artists –WOW (Women of Watercolor) we called ourselves and studied with Wendy Rouse who encouraged us to show our work and mentored us through the process. My first “juried” piece was selected for the “Water Works” exhibit at the DAI Summer 2013. I’ve had a piece in the last two DAI Member’s Exhibitions, a solo exhibit at the Duluth Kenwood Teacher’s Credit Union, and most recently a piece in Bob Dylan Days Art Exhibit at the Red Mug in Superior, a solo exhibit during the month of July 2014 at Beaner’s Central, and two pieces in the Lake Superior Watercolor Society’s “New Work” Exhibit at North End Gallery in Superior showing July – Sept. 2014.

EN: Who have been your biggest influences?

SR: Many people have influenced me during my creative journey. My mom, as busy as she was raising 7 daughters plus worked at the area hospital displayed her artistic flair throughout our home -- who else had knotty pine and red kitchen cabinets with black countertops back in the 60’s and 70’s? She has always had a way of putting things together and an eye for design. Mom was an antiques dealer for 35 yrs. and an avid collector of interesting and unique things so I’ve been surrounded by her “antics” my entire life so most likely she has passed some of this along to me. My grandchildren also play a big role in my creative expression—I am blessed to spend quality time with them every week. They remind me to play and be silly --- to explore and be in the moment. They recharge me while at the same time teach me to not be so serious all the time. As for art mentors, Betsy Kuth’s work caught my eye in the late 80’s and early 90’s. She lived in my neighborhood near UMD – loose, colorful, gestural, interesting shapes—she made watercolor look so easy. I signed up for her class through Community Ed in 1997 and was the first time I tried watercolor—I found out pretty quickly the fun part was not enough but also required basic fundamental techniques. She inspired me to take the first step. I’ve been fortunate to have found many wonderful creative folks to learn from in their workshops and classes—Edna Blanchard, Wendy Rouse, Liz Sivertson, Mary Beth Downs to name a few—It’s always exciting to learn new things!

EN: What mediums do you work in?

SR: I mostly work in watercolors and recently have added mixed mediums—collage, ink, acrylics- and love the freedom of adding texture and energy— I’ve played a little with acrylics and to explore more has been a desire for a while now—making the time and adding new supplies is the challenge.

EN: What is it that appeals to you about watercolors?

SR: Watercolors are appealing to me for various reasons. The fresh transparency of color flows and is easy to admire. Many surprises can happen with watercolor –good and not so good but this is what is challenging and fun about the medium for me. There is so much to learn--- I will always be working on fundamental techniques, how materials and supplies can enhance the medium and let go and let the water and paint do the work.

EN: Do you have a regimen? How much time do you devote to your art?

SR: I devote as much time to my art as I can. To be honest, I think about it all the time— especially when I feel time pressure and have life tasks in front of me that require attention. Lucky for me I have my own room to enjoy minutes or hours at a time painting. I do my best work when I feel the urge and call to paint---scheduling time often does not work well. I strive to enjoy the process and not worry about the outcome.

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