Tuesday, October 11, 2022


Susan Christian’s Blue at LGM Studio

By Alec Clayton

Through popular use, the term abstract has come to mean what the term nonobjective once meant, that is paintings with no recognizable subject matter. Many of the paintings in Susan Christian’s exhibition “Blue” at LGM Studio are nonobjective, some are abstract, a couple are almost realistic; and all are lovely, deceptively simple, and exciting for viewers who take the effort to really look.

There are 24 to 25 paintings in the show, all but two are paintings on strips of lathe that are put together in rectangular shapes of various sizes. The two exceptions are a pair of older paintings on facing walls of water and sky in arresting shades of blue painted wet-on-wet with acrylic paint. There are drips and splatters and puddled paint — expressive and gestural, but not in the aggressive manner of abstract expressionism but rather soft, and contemplative and restful.

There is a feeling of aloneness and quiet strength in all of these paintings, a love of color and love of the water and sky surrounding her home on the bay. A favorite is a small painting called “Endlessness.” It is light blue-gray with in the center a rectangle of soft white that glows beckoningly like light from a window seen through dense fog. Above it is a tiny streak of red that is recognizable only up close as a broken strip of wood, and even more subtle above that a strip of green. Such subtle contrasts of color and texture in fields of solid color are a hallmark of all of these paintings.

There is a structurally strong painting called “Solidarity” that is a solid color, deep blue, in which the only contrasts are in the placement of the strips of lathe: 15 vertical strips above three sets of three strips that form a group of squares along the bottom.

Along one wall is a group of five paintings with stronger contrasts of color and texture than the rest, and less abstract than the rest are a painting of a lonesome country road and two paintings of boats. One titled “La Mystere” is an empty boat floating on the bay and casting a dark blue shadow down deep, deep, deep into the water. This one is a powerful image due to its simplicity and strong contrasts. In the other boat picture, the empty boat rests on land and is delineated by lines of dots.

Susan Christian’s longtime friend and neighbor Llyn de Danaan recognized that the way Susan lives in an old oyster factory that juts out over the water on Oyster Bay affects her vision of the world and her art. In a review posted on Facebook, de Danaan wrote:


“There is blue. There is white. There is a seeming portal…a “Lonesome Road,” with bits of green, a yellow with blood or flame called ‘Annunciation,’ a couple of phantom boats. ‘House Plan’ has a lot of red. And the mountain, there across what might be the bay, at sunset. I love her depiction of our mountain, the mountain of our lives seen from the west side of Oyster Bay.”


“What is important here is color, big swathes of it. Like color field painting, we are invited to simply engage with color and the marks made with it and on it. And to celebrate the way Susan sees the world.”


A number of her paintings were sold at Arts Walk. Whether you are thinking of buying or just want to look, there are limited opportunities to see these fine paintings.


Blue: new paintings by Susan Christian

Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Oct. 30

Artist talk 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15

LGM Studio, 114 Capitol Way N, Olympia