Young Susan Richardson began drawing at an early age. Copying photographs and pictures from books, Susan drew horses believing she could draw her way to a horse of her own. Unfortunately, the magic spell never worked and Susan began drawing other subjects with the mentorship of her mother’s sister, Arlene Rust. Throughout Susan’s life, she provided the guidance a young artist needed. In high school, Susan started exploring watercolor painting using the views from the classroom window for subjects.
Graduation from high school and a relocation to southern California brought readjustments to new places and new explorations. An oil painting set from her parents introduced painting advanced from the paint-by-number sets previously experienced. Time and expenses limited entry into college. Enrollment consisted of a single class in entry-level art history at a 2-year college in Santa Ana. A charismatic professor, Gene Issacson’s lectures were peppered with anecdotes and actual artifacts from his own travels. A second semester of the class ended with the offer to travel to Europe for a summer session which Susan glady took. While Susan was traveling in Europe, her family made a final relocation to Arizona.
Returning to the United States after earning course credit in art history with a paper on the history of stained glass in European cathedrals, Susan began serious study toward a fine Arts degree in painting. While attending college in Mesa, Arizona the curriculum included fundamentals in drawing and design. Bill Voss taught life-drawing classes with techniques used by the masters, Michelangelo and Da Vinci. His incorporation of old world materials such as conte crayons and charcoal opened up Susan’s style and approach to drawing and painting. Ned Tuhey’s experiential teaching style in the classic principles of design laid the foundation for future quality of all of Susan’s work. The painting studio classes gave Susan identity. Published artist Woodward Payne taught Acrylic painting. New to the art world in the 1960’s, the evaporation drying of the paint materials allowed for faster glazing techniques and brighter colors. Susan paints with acrylic to this day.
For upperclassman studies, Northern Arizona University was her choice. Affordable and recommended by her previous professors, it was a wise decision. For the next two years, Susan delved into higher level painting studio classes. Everything involved in producing a painting was expected. Art majors in studio arts were required to have their own committee of professors to determine qualification for bestowment of the desired degree. Susan chose painting instructor Dick Beasley and watercolor professor Ellory Gibson. Along with an art history instructor overseeing the minor degree in Art History, Susan’s committee charted her progress.
Graduation with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree led to the obvious need to establish a residence and secure an income. Reluctantly, Susan moved back to the Phoenix desert. She secured a job as a waitress and another job as an English tutor to provide income for living expenses. Shortly thereafter, a referral from a friend presented the opportunity to return to Flagstaff and work in a field more suited to Susan’s education. She was hired by the Museum of Northern Arizona to work in the gift shop. During this period, Susan began her own art career as a painter by becoming active in the local art community. At the same time, her experimentation with stained glass became more serious. Once again, a referral led to another job. This time relocation to California resulted in work at a stained glass studio with artisans who produced windows for everything from entry doors to church windows.
The need to support herself resulted in less art related jobs and Susan drifted away from producing art. Marriage, a reliable paycheck and the first recession in the 1990’s resulted in a transfer to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas serendipitous choices developed into a career in the budding wine industry associated with the new age of fine dining. It is said that all things come together and after a successful decade in the retail wine business, the Great Recession of 2008 ended Susan’s wine career. A part time job at an art supply dealer afforded the chance for early retirement in 2011. Now a full time artist, Susan Richardson-Kaumans launched her own business selling fine art to wine enthusiasts which she does to this day.