Emerging Artist | Susan Romaine

Morris and King by Susan Romaine

By Gussie Fauntleroy

With her studio in downtown Charleston, SC, Susan Romaine could paint lovely wisteria-draped antebellum homes. Instead, her eye is drawn to the angles and shapes of the city’s aging commercial zones, where she’s even painted a parking meter and garbage can. “I like the ‘good bones’ of less glamorous buildings,” the artist explains. “Highly embellished buildings are like too much makeup; the older buildings show their soul.”

The urban environment is familiar to Romaine, 55, who was born in New York City and lived in Los Angeles, Houston, and New York while working in the investment field. Then came a point when she yielded to the creative call. Believing she wanted to write, she began a novel but became frustrated with its progress and put the book on hold. She signed up for an art course after moving to Charleston in 1993. “I finally realized the reason I was having writer’s block,” she recounts, laughing. “It’s because I’m a painter.”

In Charleston—and Santa Fe, NM, Romaine’s other favorite place to paint—the skyline is relatively low, allowing strong light to reach in and magnify color, shadow, and architectural forms. Often devoid of the human figure, her imagery still reflects a long-held interest in humankind’s need to create. “When I’m painting a building,” she muses, “what I’m painting is the creative force of the people who built it, and what they left behind.” Romaine is represented by Smith Killian Fine Art, Charleston, SC, and The Peterson-Cody Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.

Featured in “Artists to Watch” January 2006