Susan Mansell and her constant companion, ‘Abigail,' a registered boxer, travel through a pasture on the way to Mansell's studio after feeding the horses on their ranch, east of Ballinger.
Usually, when people first think of watercolor painting, they think of pale "shades" or tones," like in Mansell's
early painting of a little girl.
In contrast, the transparent watercolor paintings take on bright hues with reds, blues and gold.
"This pops into your mind," Mansell
said."It just bounces off the page." Mansell
has drawn or sketched all her
life, but has worked with watercolor just eight years. She
now finds herself "looking at all things differently."
San Angelo artist Maggie Ault has known Mansell
for five years.
"I have actually watched Susan
grow in leaps and bounds," Ault said.
works in her
‘Little House' studio, where she
is completing a painting for an upcoming trip to Spain and an art show after she
returns.The painting is of a pile of old tires she
noticed while on the way to lunch in San Angelo
earlier this summer.
Unlike oil and acrylic painting, transparent watercolor calls for using paint over paint, Mansell
The pigment - or color - is mixed with water and layered over white paper allowing light to shine through the underlying paper to achieve the transparent effect, Mansell
At first, she
scene or object onto tracing paper in pencil, using only simple details.She
then outlines the drawing in black marker.
The paper is taped to a window, and then a piece of canvas white paper is placed over the drawing, and then Mansell
begins to paint.
adds more details to the scene, such as more flowers in a field, leaves on a tree or sparks from a welder. Mansell
normally uses three to six colors in a painting, a number that seems remarkable given the vibrancy of her
paints mainly with blue, gold, sienna and some reds.She
has been using more yellow lately due to the summer.
"It's always fun to see others' reactions," she
said."I want people to think of my work as bold colors." She
also challenges people to see beyond just a single color in an object.She
rarely uses gray in shadows, opting instead for blues and reds.She
uses little black as well.
In making her
dark colors she
uses a lot of pigment and very little water.The opposite is used for light colors.
By painting in watercolor, Mansell
is able to make "happy mistakes."If a stroke or color does not appear on the paper like she
wants, transparent watercolor is flexible enough to alter or incorporate the mistakes into the painting.
"I like to create challenges for myself," she
One time, Mansell
challenged herself by working on two paintings simultaneously. She
began with a coupler, a device used to connect two railroad cars together. Her
other painting was of a cactus flower.
"I would go from the hardness of the metal to something with more delicacy," she
said."It was hard at times switching." Mansell
also has worked with other aspects of art.
Have a good Christmas - Susan
When picking her
often goes with the world around her
The Ballinger Co-op painting shows the discarded pallets and old gasoline signs found on the side of the building.
found behind a restaurant in San Angelo, the tree outside her
studio window or even her
son and nephew sitting outside reading.
husband, Chauncey, travel across the globe, she
often takes her
camera and sketch book.
Even though she's
been to places as far as Australia, Mansell
doesn't always come back from a trip with a painting in mind.
"I like to paint what people can identify with," she
The house was moved to their property, and now Mansell
sits and looks out to nature as she
Ribbons of all colors, shapes and sizes of the many accolades and awards she
has won hang on a hat rack. She
has been featured locally, regionally and nationally.Most recently, she
won the Segaul Family Award at the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors in Old Forge, N.Y. for her
painting of the coupler. Her goal is to become a signature member of all four major watercolor societies.She is currently a signature member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America.
The other three are Watercolor West
, American Watercolor Society
and National Watercolor Society
"This would be the epitome," she
said of her
For now, Mansell
sits in her
studio and continues to paint.
"I'm happiest when I'm painting," she