Emerging Artists | Susan Hong-Sammons

Stories from life

Susan Hong-Sammons, Her Highness, oil, 12 x 16.

Susan Hong-Sammons, Her Highness, oil, 12 x 16.

This story was featured in the September 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  September 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

When Susan Hong-Sammons learned she had won an honorable mention for her portrait painting THE GRADUATE in the Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition earlier this year, her initial reaction was one of shock—“a huge shock of delight and joy,” she says. “I’ve studied with a lot of the OPA Masters, and I hold them in great esteem. I felt super encouraged, like I’m on the right path, so just keep painting.”

Since moving with her family to West Boylston, MA, from Chicago, IL, last year, the artist has explored the area’s snowy landscapes in winter and her garden’s summer blooms en plein air, and recently she traveled with other local artists to paint the ocean from New Hampshire’s coastline. In her studio, she trains her eye by painting still lifes with an Old World flair. For Hong-Sammons, working from direct observation is vital to attaining one of her greatest artistic goals: capturing a person’s unique spirit. “If I won the lottery, I’d have a model in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, six days a week,” she says.

The Chicago native earned her first degree in industrial illustration, for practical purposes, but three days later she returned to school and earned advanced degrees in fine art. “My drawing background is very classical and traditional, but my painting studies were much more conceptual,” says Hong-Sammons. “I wasted time, in a way, because I was trying to make good paintings to please my professors. But I thought, ‘I really want to paint like Rembrandt.’”

Today Hong-Sammons paints in a style that feels true to her, blending classical realism and expressionism in her contemporary portrayals of everyday people, many of whom she meets through routine encounters such as trips to the grocery store. As the artist becomes acquainted with her models, their individual personalities emerge. Her OPA award-winning portrait, for example, conveys the determination of a young man who conquered a difficult childhood and, later, a debilitating accident. “His doctors told him that, at most, he would be able to walk with crutches,” says Hong-Sammons. “He proved them wrong in a matter of months and got academic and football scholarships. I hope my paintings are interesting enough that people start seeing some of the story.” —Kim Agricola

representation
City Art Gallery, Greenville, NC; Indigo Creek Gallery, Stillwater, MN; Jae Berni Interiors Inc., River Forest, IL; Stephanie Socha Design, Chicago, IL.

This story was featured in the September 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  September 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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