By Bonnie Gangelhoff
As young girl growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Susan Lange-Marshall recalls that creating art was a wonderful escape. “I had a really rough time as a child. My mother was unstable. And we literally survived on mayonnaise sandwiches,” Lange-Marshall says. If there was one thing she could count on, it was art. As a youngster, she relished the time spent drawing what she calls “fashion women,” the glamorous models that adorned the pages of magazines like Glamour.
For Lange-Marshall, the fashion world represented a safe universe beyond the poverty and uncertainty she experienced in daily life. The positive reinforcement she received from teachers encouraged her to pursue art as an adult. After graduating from high school, she continued to develop drawing and painting skills, enrolling at Texas State Technical Institute in Waco, TX, where she majored in art and advertising.
Today, she is an accomplished impressionist painter living in northern New Mexico. Currently, her work is on view in the American Impressionist Society show at Saks Galleries in Denver, CO. She recently won a top award for a still-life painting, GINGER JAR, at the Oil Painters of America Western Regional Exhibition held in August at Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, WA.
Lange-Marshall’s subject matter varies—she is at ease painting all genres including figures, still lifes, and landscapes. But she remains, as she was in childhood, drawn to the figure. Her figurative works often feature an animal. And there’s a good reason, she says. As a child her own dog, as well as dogs belonging to her grandmothers, were constant companions. They also served as calming influences in her tumultuous life. “I feel like our relationships with pets are so special and loving,” she says. “I feel there is a spiritual connection with animals, especially for those of us with rough pasts. It can heal your soul.”
Since she often feels most peaceful when her own dogs are present, she strives to convey that same sense of peace and serenity in her works. “I want others to feel the unconditional love I have experienced in these relationships,” Lange-Marshall says.
Recently, she says, ideas for paintings spring to mind in the early morning hours while emerging from a dream state. “I feel this awakening period gives me a fresh source of emotionally-charged compositions,” she explains. To complement the emotional aspect of her works, she employs an impressionistic style, including elements like bold brush strokes. For her color choices, she favors pure colors, mixing them directly on the canvas.
Lange-Marshall believes so strongly that art has helped her heal emotional wounds that she regularly donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her works to charities for abused children. “I see children suffering and I feel like this is a way to give back,” she says. “It’s a way to complete my life.”
Greenberg Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; Framing Concepts Gallery, Albuquerque, NM; www.susanlange-marshall.com.
Group show, American Impressionist Society, Saks Gallery, Denver, CO, through December 1.
Group show, Peterson-Cody Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, December 4.
Featured in November 2009