Posts Tagged ‘calling’

“Untitled” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill

You might know, if you’ve followed my work for a while, that before I worked in watercolor, I was an oil painter. A mid-life crisis brought me face to face with the realization that there were things I wanted to do (books) and mediums I wanted to go deeper into (drawing and watercolor) and that there was only so much time left.

I leapt.

But then (and this, I think, is one of the hazards of not working steadily) amongst all of the other chaos happening in my life over the last few years, I found myself back on the fence: watercolor or oils…watercolor or oils? A reasonable person might simply say, “Do both.” or, “It’s a no-brainer…oil is the medium of The Old Masters, and besides, oils sell for far more.” Or, “Choose and get on with it, damnit!”

But the best reasons and arguments haven’t been able to tear me away from my love affair with watercolor and drawing. My own brain and sense of responsibility has been my worst enemy. And a pros and cons list only tells me that the right decision (logically) is the wrong decision for me. Alas.

I’ve wasted a lot of time wrestling with this, and for a person who normally likes to know who I am and where I’m going, it’s been a particular kind of Hell. Truly. The only answer that keeps feeling right is, “Follow your heart. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”

“Untitled” (watercolor, pen & ink) About this painting: it’s a sketch on a scrap of watercolor paper, from a possible imagined story. No, it’s nothing to do with anti-this or pro-that. It’s not political, it’s not taking a stand for anything except the joy of “taking a line for a walk.” Please don’t post political comments. They will be deleted.





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“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill

❦ I’ve always felt that an Artist was a person willing to be a channel for something much larger and far more mysterious than her or his little self. The modern kind of artists’ statement that includes phrases like “informs my aesthetic” and “my purpose” always seemed to be somehow…arrogant. Sometimes even a little bit aggressive, as if by authoritatively stating what they, the artists, were doing in grand terms, they could somehow push their importance and value onto the rest of us.

Maybe I’m just naive in this modern age, but it seems like being an artist should be — regardless of the tribulations of keeping body and soul together — first and foremost, a Calling. A calling that whispers in the night, when one is making the bed or washing the lettuce, showering, or pruning the hedge. A calling that itches in the fingertips and trembles in the heart. “Something wants to be born,” that whisper says. A calling that may, in fact, drag us through a certain kind of Hell, but it will be far worse for us if we refuse or linger overlong on the fence.

There is no explanation given, no reason given for the urgency, but the Calling is still insistent. “A fool’s leap! “Who would possibly want it and how could it even be marketed?” the Reasonable Mind argues back. “How much can I sell it for?” the Fearful Self joins in. There is a lot of Resistance. There always is. Artists are only human, after all. We get nervous when things are out of our control, when we haven’t a clue where they’re going and how it will all turn out. We fear for the loss of all things dear to mortals: our minds, our comfort, our safety and perhaps we fear for our status too.

A Calling is not, I think, ‘religious‘ in the normal sense of that word, unless your view of religion is devotion to something you can never hope to fully understand…devotion that has nothing to gain, no persona to maintain…a kind of death, really. The Calling I am referring to is much more like that quote, “I traded my life for a wild ride on a dark horse.” I wish I knew who wrote that. Following a Calling is so much like that. Exhilarating…terrifying…eerily calm all at the same time. Maybe life should always be like that, artist or no…?

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, I don’t mean “Calling” in the sense that one is “special.” More a message that “This is yours to do here, if you are willing and brave enough to accept the challenge…” ♡

“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill ❦ SOLD. Sorry, no prints available of this beauty, as the original got away before I could have it professionally photographed. However!! There are lots of other images available in The Print Collection at www.susansorrellhill.com





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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is obsession.

You know the stereotypes: with women it’s usually clothes, and just as often, shoes, jewelry, makeup and purses. One female friend of mine is obsessed with buying plants. (I’ve been there.) Books can be very tempting too. But for this lady writer (and I know I’m never going to hear the end of this now from certain family members), the ongoing obsession is…art supplies. And not just any art supplies. Browsing the cheapo paintbox sets or little-girl notebooks in the five-and-dime will not suffice to fill my appetite: only the best Professional Level art supplies will do. Fortunately, my studio space and quantity of disposable cash are both quite small, so this obsession cannot take over my life or home…

For my money, a catalog or online purchase is by far the best. Think of it: I can spend hours or days shopping from the newly arrived catalogue, or browsing a company’s online selections! (The quick glance at two whole pages of antique dipping nibs in my newest New York Central catalog recently sent shivers of delight up my spine, and I’ve tucked that catalog away for a ‘private moment’ of more browsing.) I can have the pure pleasure of filling out that order form or clicking the Buy Now button. And then, just like Christmas, I can look forward for days or weeks to the inevitable arrival of one or more brown cardboard boxes with my name on the label! I’ve grown out of the acute listening skills of the child waiting to hear reindeer bells or rooftop “Ho! Ho! Ho!” but I find myself perfectly tuned to the rumbly sound of the approaching UPS truck’s muffler. My Santa shows up in fudge-colored brown uniforms now, not red with white fur. So much more adult, don’t you agree??

But seriously, I adore art supplies. Tubes of paint, paper, pencils, pens and nibs, ink, tracing paper pads, clear bags for the finished paintings. And don’t get me going on the joys of studio furniture. What could be better than buying a new flat file, drafting table or book shelf for all of those art supplies and beautiful paintings that I’ve made in my not-shopping time? And, of course, these arrive in even bigger brown cardboard boxes and sometimes even require entire studio ‘makeovers’ of shuffling beloved art supplies around!

You may have guessed that I’ve had this obsession for more than a few years? Recently I realized that I have managed to create a close-to-perfect working space (within the limitations of an eleven-by-eleven room in my rented house, and the constraints of my not-so-available cash). I’ve got storage, bookshelves and reference books, a beautiful and inspiring table and comfortable chair, a cosy ‘thinking’ chair, pretty good light, privacy, and a good stockpile of my favorite watercolor paints, pencils, pens and papers. I’ve made lots of good paintings and built a good website. I’ve got my skills, training, experience…and I’ve got my creative passion. I feel ready for something wonderful and Big to happen. Looking back, it seems that my obsession was not a trivial one at all, but an inner prompting, linked with that What I Am Here To Do? question. My obsession was linked to my Life Purpose. I like that: obsession as the Soul speaking to me. “Go here, do this. This is something you need to do or learn next. This is important.” An obsession with art supplies has led me to where I am now, and I am grateful.

What’s your obsession, deep down? What’s calling and nudging you? What lifts you up?


“Paul’s Balloon”    (watercolor, pen & ink)

Have you voted for your favorite book cover at Undercover Cover Art yet? Remember: you’ll have to click the stars, not just leave a lovely comment…thanks everyone!!

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