Once a month, we feature local small business owners and artists who are using their creativity to make the homes and businesses of Roanoke beautiful.
This month, our spotlight is on artist Susan Egbert. Susan uses a wide variety of media in her artwork but is probably known most for her mixed-media landscapes.
Experimenting with a Variety of Art: Susan’s Story
For as long as she can remember, Susan has been experimenting with art. Susan’s father was a full-time artist, so she grew up around art, going to art shows as a child, and drawing and painting with him. She began showing her work with him when she was just 12 years old.
“Art was always the thing to do,” Susan said. “I always knew that’s what I wanted to keep doing.”
While her father, who was an acrylic painter, provided some inspiration and guidance, Susan took it further, seeking to try out more than just one type of art. “He had an impressionistic style that I liked,” she said. “I took it from there and experimented with different media in high school and college.”
She studied fine art at New York State University at Oswego and has been a freelance artist ever since. While many artists specialize in one to two types of media, Susan has found that it’s the variety in art that she is passionate about.
“I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with media, and I rotate what I’m working in,” she said. “I like to work in one media for awhile then move to another to keep it fresh and interesting.”
Currently, Susan works in mixed media in an abstract style, acrylic batik on rice paper for landscapes, and print making monotypes. She used to do a lot of portraits, but does fewer of those now, focusing more on landscapes and scenery.
As she has experimented over the years, Susan has developed her own style.
“I would say my style is varied,” she said. “My landscapes are more impressionistic. My mixed media work has no preconceived notion. I just start out with layering, and it’s often just abstract and non-representational.”
No matter the media she’s using, Susan’s artwork has a distinct look, featuring rich textures and a more muted color palette with earthy tones.
These three pieces display Susan’s various styles. From left to right, an acrylic batik landscape on rice paper, a monotype, and a mixed media.
Susan gets her inspiration for the much of her artwork from nature and from the beauty of the Roanoke area. Many of her pieces feature scenery from the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. She also gets inspired through her travels.
“My husband and I have traveled out west. We actually met at Yellowstone, so we like to go out there. We’ve gone to Ireland and Scotland, and I love to show beautiful scenery from these places,” Susan said. “Some of my more recent work features Santa Fe and a southwest influence.”
Originally from upstate New York, Susan has now been in the Roanoke area for almost 40 years. She and her husband chose Roanoke because they love the mountains. “We enjoy the outdoors and hiking, but we also love everything the city has to offer,” she said. “It has everything we want without being a huge city.”
In addition to her passion for creating artwork and experimenting with a variety of media, Susan is passionate about the people she gets to meet through her art in Roanoke and beyond. “I like getting to know a lot of really nice people in the art community, and I enjoy being a part of that.”
Susan enjoys working with other artists and has had a working studio away from her home in one location or another in downtown Roanoke for 30 years. Susan is now part of the Aurora Artisans co-op. She and these seven other local artists work and their display their pieces in this studio, located at 110 Campbell Avenue in Roanoke. Susan’s work is also on display at The Market Gallery (23 Salem Ave, Roanoke) and the Cabell Gallery in Lexington. Additionally, Susan is a member of the League of Roanoke Artists and the Virginia Watercolor Society, and she has served on the Roanoke Arts Commission.
Just as with any experiment, sometimes things go as planned and sometimes they don’t. Susan has learned through the years that this is the case with her art. Some of her favorite pieces have been born out of her experimentation.
“One mixed media piece, ‘Fishing Boats of Hoi An’ came together just as I hoped it would. Other pieces don’t come out as you had planned. But sometimes the accidents are a good thing.”
Whether it aligns with her original vision or not, each work of art that Susan creates is a representation of her creativity and style. “Each piece has a certain special place just because it’s been something I’ve worked on and created.”
These are two of Susan’s favorite pieces. From left to right, ‘Fishing Boats of Hoi An,’ acrylic batik and ‘Ebony Bird,’ a mixed media piece.
When Susan is not working on her art, she and her husband enjoy hiking, going to the theater, spending time with their family, and being involved with her church, the Unitarian Universalist Church.