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Learning to Fly is about two different ways of learning, and perhaps two different ways of being. Three sulphur crested cockatoos are flying not only across a background of rainforest trees, but also across a field of silver mathematical symbols.  I was thinking about the way humans talk about the gaining of new knowledge about the world, as though we were at war with the universe — we speak of scientific “breakthroughs”, of “conquering boundaries”, of “hard won” discoveries and so on.  Meanwhile, the birds just fly.  They don’t conquer nature, they are simply part of it. I am thinking that perhaps we could learn something from their easy aptitude.

I am happiest with my work when my paintings bring together many things that I love. These include, firstly, a delight in the natural world surrounding me. The Gold Coast hinterland is an area rich in sub-tropical forests and streams, full of life, colour and pattern. Layers of colour and pattern underlie my paintings, often combining natural plant forms with other elements from different times and cultures. My current work brings together a diverse range of influences including Asian philosophy and traditional art, textile pattern, bird-watching and the phenomenology of perception. As with most of my current work, this painting includes some areas of reflective metallic paint which gives the painting a changeable appearance under different light conditions. My work goes through four processes (at least) Firstly, I create an abstract colour background with fluid paint or ink to create organic effects. Then I work with my ever growing library of custom made stencils and masks – sometimes plant forms, sometimes abstract or classical patterns. In creating these backgrounds, which I think of as abstract paintings in their own right, I try to build up interesting layers of forms, patterns and colours, so that the eye looks through depths of space, and nothing is fully grasped in the instant.  When I am happy with the background, then it is time to consider what bird subject it suggests to me. I paint the birds as realistically as my skills permit. I enjoy the contrast of a realistically detailed and modeled bird “popping” out of an abstract painting. The final stage is to re-balance the work tonally so that the subjects sit happily with the background. Unframed, ready to hang.

Learning to Fly

Susan Skuse

Size: 100w x 100h x 4d cms

Lithographic ink, aerosol and oil on professional quality stretched canvas

Ready to hang


Sold By: Susan Skuse

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