t was a long time before I finally got to the place where I truly believed that writing books was going to be my "for-real" job. I was so shocked that someone was going to publish my first book, time stopped, and I forgot to think about the future! I wrote my first book, Heart of the Home, and the next two books, sitting at the dining room table of my first little house on Martha’s Vineyard.
t was Joe’s idea (when he finally came into my life), that I should get an art table! Oh boy, an art table! (If you think this is bad, you should have seen the confusion on my face the first time I had to fill out my IRS forms and write in…what? author? artist? How could this BE?)
e moved into our "new" old house in 1989, and I took a small wood-paneled room, where the previous owners hung their fishing poles, for my studio. I worked there for a couple of years, spilling out all over the place, with art and supplies and file cabinets, until we were tripping over it, before Joe said, "You have this big house, and you choose the smallest, darkest room in it for the place where you spend almost all your time!"
"Hey, yeah," I said, "What’s this about??? …. and moved into the front room of the house, a big sunny room that was called "The Music Room" by previous owners. Which gave me another good reason to call my house "The House of Creativity," being that I can still hear the echoes of the music played there in the olden days (my house was built in 1849).
his is my studio today; a place for everything and everything in it’s place (at least when I’m taking pictures!). From my chair, I can look out the window and watch the seasons go by; the window looks out over my picket-fence garden that’s as pretty in the snow as it is in the summer, when the garden smells breeze right in past those curtains and lure me outside. Two of my best girlfriends (who live a couple of doors over on both sides of me) have to pass by this window to get to my kitchen door, so I’m always on alert for movement…they also go through my yard to each other’s houses, so from my chair, I have a bird’s eye view of all that matters, taking every advantage of serendipitous opportunities for procrastination. I have books written by all my heroes in my studio, inspiring me every day. I think I’ve left enough creative DNA in this room to last another lifetime. I carry my tea in there in the quiet early morning, and a huge cloud of something like contentment spills over me, and I just look up and say, Thank you God.
‘m often asked what I use for my art…the answer is I use Rapidograph pens with black India ink to do my writing. The paintbrush I use the most (and go through like water, wearing them out), is the Windsor Newton University Series 233 England (they are red), size #1 (the one with the 3 hairs). For paper I like cold pressed D’Arches watercolor blocks, or 100 lb. Bristol. For paint, I use everything from children’s watercolor sets to paint in tubes; I love having lots of colors.
f you’ve never tried to paint, you could be like me and have a big surprise waiting for you when you do. I didn’t try painting until I was thirty years old; before that I never painted a thing. Then one day, because I was given a gift certificate to an art store, I bought watercolors and painted the geranium that was sitting on my kitchen table. Everyone I knew was shocked because it looked like a geranium! Especially me! It changed my life.
was inspired to write HOW TO DRAW in my Summer Book, thinking there may be others out there, like me, who might not know what they have up their sleeve. If you have my books, you can see the difference in the art in my first books, compared to ones published more recently. That’s what happens if you fall in love with something and do it every day. Practice really helps.
robably because I didn’t do it as a child, I still look at the art things in my studio (studio!) and think, "who could these belong to?" — Oh yeah, Me! Yay!
f you need help with creative confidence, and who doesn’t, I loved the book The
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Susan, your studio is beautiful. I would love to see what you need to make you happy! Cuz you are very happy, it seems. What’s on that card, anyway?
I’ll put it in my next book so you can read it…it’s just like a mother, tells me to take care of myself, bubble baths and gardens and such.
You make my heart sing! (wild thing) Because of your books and words of inspiration and the LOVE of what you do ~ I was brave enough to do my own illustrations when the artist I had hired to do my books fell through. I do love you ~ I am your “never-met” girlfriend (from Twitter) Thanks for being there for me. Hopefully, we’ll meet some day. <3
I love your studio Susan and i love that we get to see where you do the magic of painting and writing your book .
hello… i’m the lady that finally drove a total of 20 hrs. to get a book signed by you but you were sick. i talked a bit with judy and she was very nice.. (but i was disappointed none the less) i am a charter member, there at the start. a SB wanna-be. buying everything you ever did to inspire my art. the trouble with me is i’m like the dog in ‘UP’… i’m a writer, an artist, a sewer (that doesn’t look right?) and many other things and the minute someone says ‘SQUIRREL!!’…. i’m off and running again… my question is this… how do you do the different painted writing?? do you paint it with a brush, or outline it with a pen and then paint it? and dang it how the heck do you go through a whole page and not make a mistake? you amaze me….i must say. later, karen
Oh Karen, I feel so bad about that drive! I couldn’t help it though — sometimes you have to make room for falling apart! So sorry to miss you.
The lettering — I write it with a pencil and then fill it in with watercolor. You just don’t see the mistakes, we don’t put them in the books (except sometimes!). Thank you for not giving up on me! 🙂 Susan
not to worry… i am a die-hard fan and believe me… i have three kids… i know a thing or two about ‘drive-by illness’. those little monkeys are ‘germ-traps’. i think kids have ‘super-germs’.
it was still worth the trip to get your signature. so thanks
Hi Susan, your studio is awe inspiring and I adore every one of your books. Your drawings make me smile and it’s so interesting to note that you color them with many different mediums. : )
I HAVE BEEN A FAN FROM THE START AND HAVE YOUR FIRST BOOK – WHICH I LOVE – AND REALLY ENJOYED AND INHALED YOUR STICKERS! SOOOOO MUCH FUN!!! I LOVE YOUR STORY AND LOVE TO SHARE IT WITH MY STUDENTS AND THEIR MOMS THAT IT CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT AT IT!!! I LOVEEEE THE EAST COAST AND AM A BIT ENVIOUS OF YOU!!! I WISH YOU WELL AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING MORE OF YOUR CREATIVITY!!!
susan, please continue working on your book…… i am sooo anxious to buy it. i read your books over and over and over. the next best thing would be a movie about you and your journey from when you left california to mv. wouldn’t that be neat? chic flick!!!
Your studio is so beautiful! And very inspiring 🙂
I recently found your blog and I am now officially in love with water color. I usually work in acrylic, but I have some water colors just begging to be tried. Now I am off to play with them. Your things are lovely.
I am fascinated by your studio. What a lovely place to work every day. Thanks for sharing the pics.
SUSAN….I LOVE YOUR NEW STUDIO…ITS AWESOME…AND SO …YOU…AND YES, I CAN READ, AND REREAD YOUR BOOKS OVER AND OVER..THEY ARE DELIGHTFUL…I JUST PULLED OUT MY SUMMER BOOK AND WILL BE READING IT …LIKE I NEVER READ IT BEFORE…WILL YOU BE AT THE REMNANTS OF THE PAST SHOW IN OCTOBER…NOW A 2 DAY SHOW..AND AT A NEW PLACE?
I AM LOVING ALL THIS NEW INFORMATION…YOU ARE MAKING MY WEEK AT WORK GO SO QUICKLY…ENJOYING ALL OF THIS EACH DAY…
I just love “EVERYTHING” about your writing, art and your wonderful blog. It’s a breath of fresh air in this busy world. You gave me inspiration and I’d like to get the book you recommended “The Artist’s Way” but I checked it out and it looks like there are a couple of different ones or maybe I am misunderstanding the description. One says it’s a book and then there’s one also called a workbook. Could you let me know if you get a chance (I know, right!) No rush. And again, thank you SO MUCH for sharing so much of yourself with all of us who love your work!
Sharon in Maine
Hi Sharon … The “Artist’s Way” we have on our site is everything in one, a book and a workbook…it’s truly wonderful, it’s the same one I read when I was starting out, helps with two big things: focusing and believing!
Thanks so much Susan, I guess I should have been a little more observant, and realized that I could actually get the book on your site. I always seem to make things more difficult for myself than they should be! Your rice salad recipe looks yummy and refreshing! Have a wonderful 4th of July. God Bless America!
I enjoyed your work and I want to know if I may occasinally jot a sketch in my sketchbook.
Are you thinking about a magazine?
Oh I think about everything! 🙂 Not sure what you mean about jotting a sketch…
Oh…love your work, writing…watercolor… and the strong family ties…
keep up the great work…God has blessed you. You are a good example for many.
I love your work! Have you ever thought about designing dishes? Thank you Jennifer
Hi Jennifer; I’ve done it in the past, had a tea set with Lenox at one time…jam jars, domed cake plate, dessert plates, little spreaders, tea bag holders. But Lenox was bought by another company and changed what they were doing. Maybe someday we can do it again!
hello. How are you? I folllow your art since years.
I am always happy to get a new Willard. That brighten my day.
I would be so happy to get some of your products in Germany,
but I do not find a shop who sells your fine art.
Is there a shop in Germany or europe which sells your art?
Keep up your lovely art!
Hugs from Germany
Thank you! for sharing images of your home, garden and island with us. Whenever I need to escape in my mind I pull up your blog/website and it always makes me smile and I feel like I’m there. That goes double for your books. I can get lost in your stories and your detailed cozy artwork. So adorable. Please don’t ever stop. We need you out here. So looking forward to crisp Fall weather and seeing what your home and garden looks like then. Come on cool weather!!!
I have been swept away into your blog and feel the desperate need to reacquaint myself with my own creativity. I was a doodler, idea-person, painter, calligrapher, photographer, you name it – but want to be again, in present tense. Thank you for inspiring me to once again, be all that I can be….
Love everything you do….everything you make….every book you publish. Can’t wait, either, for the new book to come out. Question for you? Do you think you’ll ever make flannel baby prints? I love the baby prints you have but for a couple of projects that I do, flannel is needed. Also, in that section of your store, there’s a link posted to two prints for framing…one said “I Made It Myslef.” I thought, how cute! Thought maybe it was a play on how we sometimes are so clever and make an effort to do handiworks but then they don’t turn out quite right….but apparently it’s just a typo…oops! 🙂
I’m a little late here on this post! but I had to tell you I think your genuine! I enjoy looking at your art room and thank you for letting me and all of us know what you use for your artwork. I maybe new to your website and I’m happy I am too!!! Xo Gods peace. Kimi
Your really talented! I have your book ‘ Girlfriends Forever ‘ and I can’t wait to read more. I follow you on twitter. Yes, I might be your youngest fan. 🙂 I have my book that i THINK you signed. It was written “may 2000” and I was so exited to see your name signed on it! I also took everything you said in the book and tried to remember it 🙂 I still have the book and I read it almost every day!
– Nikki Orosz
Hi Nikki! Thank you for coming by . . . love your message! xoxo
hi susan, i just randomly go through all your stuff on your website and i clicked on your studio….. i just have to say after reading the start of ‘my studio’, joe is an amazing guy. he must love you so much, the way he does little things for you. and knowing you through your writing it’s visa-versa. i appreciate him and i don’t even know him. anyway…… Here’s to Joe!!
I was so lucky!! AM so lucky!
ps… i have to tell you something funny. sometimes i want to buy the ‘Girlfriends’ book for one of my girlfriends… because i think they will enjoy it as much as i do. but then i end up keeping it because it’s all brand new and mine is a little worn. i have a whole bunch of your books because i do this. i’m a little ‘whacked!’ although, sometimes one slips through and they actually do get one. oh well…
Susan, do you remember who gave you the gift certificate to the art store?
Three people tell me it was them, and now I don’t know which one of them it was!
I love your story Susan! I was so excited the other day while at Barnes and Noble and found one of the articles in Where Women Create (Aug/Sept/Oct 2011 issue) was all about you! I had about 5 magazines to go through in an hour’s time while I sat there sipping my chai, but I only got through part of that one magazine. I spent most of the time just enjoying your story with the pictures, interview and words. You’ve overcome some things and went for your dreams and you are a BIG inspiration to me. Thank you! I especially loved the card you made for yourself and always kept near you that reminded you about real life and how to be happy when writing your first book That really got to my heart and inspired me. I think I need to make myself one of those reminders.
Thank you Susan for sharing your REAL Y♥U with us! You are a beautiful inside and out person.
That was so nice Lee Ann, thank you!
You are my biggest inspiration….may I ask you something? You see, I am in England and over the years, I have been inspired to write a cookery/poetry book. I’ve always been interested in drawing as a child but of course, life got in the way and you know how that can get! (my mother even sent me to art school because I would draw all the time and she felt I had ‘talent’) I so wanted to do my own illustrations for my book and adore writing poetry so to accompany various recipes and seasons, I (think anyway) have created some lovely and whimsical poems….and still writing! Susan, did you always love what you created? I am so critical of my ‘artwork’ and wonder how to get the confidence to go forward with how I want this to be ME and to find ‘my’ own piece of myself….if that makes sense. Did you always feel your art was ‘good’ enough? I struggle and my husband gets so frustrated with me because he knows I can do it. My poems come to me fairly easy, as do my recipe methods (and is dedicated to my beloved late mum for all she taught me how to cook) but for some reason, I feel so critical of my drawings and paintings….sigh. Oh well, I suppose I should try harder so that I’ll love them instead of just ‘liking’ them, haha! Thank you; I appreciate your good words of wisdom, always. xxx
Close your eyes Marie, take a deep breath, relax completely, and when you are all quiet and your head is clear, look (in your mind) at your paintings and drawings and notice the heart that is in them, remind yourself of the compliments others (you trust) have given you, look at the colors you love, the hand that came directly from God that drew them, know the time that goes into them (and how that time is connected to the universe), and say over and over again, how much you love them, how beautiful they are, how proud you are, and how happy you are to be allowed to do this; have a little inner celebration. Negative voices creep into things, whether it be art, or whatever, and it just doesn’t help, they have to be overruled by positivity; why shouldn’t that voice say nice things? Because really, whose voice is it anyway? Then, paint and give away. Whatever you do, is a gift. How could that be anything but beautiful? I’ve had to overcome negativity too, which comes and goes at its own obnoxious whim … but you can practice your way out of it! Good luck! Say hello to beautiful England for me!!!
I loved your reply here Susan to Marie. I found myself closing my eyes right along with you both.♥
A very good place to be! 🙂
I beliveve you !!! I get what you’re saying to the gal from England, thanks, your soooooooooooooo amazingly talented : )
Thank you Kari!
Thank you….love you x
Thanks so much for letting us see a glimpse of what your studio looks like and how you go about creating your books. It always amazes me how much we are all alike, we just have to all be related! I’ve always enjoyed collecting essays and quotes and have a whole notebook filled with these things and somehow feel this could be a book in the making. But thinking of how to put it all together isn’t coming easily. Since you use a lot of quotes do you have to get permission from the “author” of these quotes before you put them in your books? Or is it just a matter of giving them credit? I think not knowing how to use these quotes is holding me back. Just so you know, if I’m having an off day, all I need to do is go to your website and all is right with the world once again!
Thank you Regina! So nice! For the quotes, you are required to pay for use of some quotes, and others, no. A copyright lawyer was made available to me from my publisher and that’s how I found out about which is which. The most expensive one I ever had to pay was $500 (From a Distance, a song I loved so it was worth it to me for the Love Book), but mostly it’s from around $75 to maybe $225.
I found your site by reading a blog in Australia. I love your work and will continue to follow what you do. I am an artist (oils, quilting, fiber art) but have never tried water color or drawing. Thanks for sharing your work with the world. Have a blessed day! Kathleen
Good Morning, Susan (well, it is late afternoon here but 10ish there 🙂
I wanted to drop you a quick note and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I took your lovely advice and ever since that day, I’ve been drawing and painting up a storm! I’ve taken items from my morning room and have recreated them in my ‘Marie’ style and they will surely go into my book. For me to even think they are ‘good’ enough is a true milestone. Stuart is so proud of me and like you, he is so positive and truthful….and he helps me if I need advice about an angle or measurement. But because of your encouragement and wise words, you have opened up my eyes to what I can truly accomplish. Thank you always! x (back to my morning room….that’s about all I get as far as studios go for the moment…..good enough for now xxx)
You have made my day Marie! That is so great … and all in you all the time! Perfect! Say Hello to Stuart for me!
Bless your cotton socks, Susan xxx
One more thing……if ever you get to visit the Newcastle upon Tyne area, you and Joe are more than welcome to come spend a few days with us. We have an antique Provencal-style guestroom, which would surely please you and we would treat you like gold (even though I do realise you could stay in any of England’s finest B&B’s) I can assure you, Stuart and I would give you the warmest and most pleasant experience, plus, we would cook good authentic English foods to whet your appetites…..any time, in any season x
You are too sweet! Maybe we’ll come see you someday!
I’m a newcomer to your blog and website. I have loved your books and your artwork for many years. I told my sister Beverly about your website and now she reads Willard too and it’s fun to talk about it with her. It’s wonderful to find I have so much in common with you and your girlfriends. I have been a big Gladys Tabor fan since the 50’s when my mom would get Family Circle magazine and we always enjoy her Butternut Wisdom column. Now I just read you recommend to a reader the book The Artist’s Way. I could kick myself. I was just at my local library last weekend and they had 3 of that book for sale and I did not buy it. However I did get the sequel Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Have not started it yet but I must say I nearly fell off my chair when I saw you mention that book. Amazing. Now at the end of the year my husband and I are retiring (yay) and I am concerned. I love doing all kinds of sewing and crafts. But the one thing I really want to get involved with is drawing and painting – I love watercolors. I imagine you must spend hours and hours just lost in your world of creativity. Please tell me what does your husband do when you are busy in your art studio. Does Joe work or have hobbies of his own? Love you Susan. You brighten my life and it’s wonderful knowing there are people like you making the world a more beautiful place.
Hi Linda! Welcome! We actually sell The Artist’s Way in our webstore because I agree with you, it’s wonderful. Joe ran the Black Dog restaurant here on the island for 23 years, but he retired a few years ago — I traveled and he wanted to go with me, and I really needed him to go with me. Right now, he is fixing the rose arbor on the back of our house that fell down while we were away! He’s a very handy man!
Wow, thanks for the inspiration…..
I went right down to my library and got the book…. “The Artists Way”, now I’m off to purchase a really fun note book….. Funny how something so simple as the idea of “morning pages” can cause creative juices to flow (sugar free of course…LOL)
Thanks again….. and may I add that visiting this site certainly does fill up the image reservoir….
Love to hear it!
I thank God for you, Susan. You bring so much contentment and happiness to your reader’s lives. It is so much fun and inspirational to peruse your blog filled with all the lovelies that we adore!
Thank you for sharing with all of us out here on the other end of your computer!
Oh thank you Priscilla, I love doing it!
Your inspirations and wonderfully wholesome ways of living each day and all the magic you put into everything, just brings wakes up the artist in me that has been on hold- I cannot wait to get home from work each day to put a little of that magic back to work in my life-what a joy you are to me and all whom you have reached – carolyn
xoxo Thank you!!
I’m oceans away from you. I am a work-at-home mom of two living in India. I stumbled upon your artwork a few years ago….and I was changed forever! Your heart and love shines through your work. It’s like a warm ray of sunshine for me. I’m an artist too, and i would love to paint a kiddie book someday, but i don’t have the guts to follow my deep desire. I especially love your art studio, and hope to have one like it someday. I saved enough money to ask my friend in US to get me one of your books, ‘heart of home’. And so, i want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because when i sit down with a cup of tea after a hard day, i go through your website and book and bask in the warmth of your creativity! You are truly gifted for bringing so much of joy in other people’s lives. May God bless you always:)
That was so nice Gunjan, thank you so much for writing . . . it does take guts, but you really only have one life. ♥ xoxo
Susan, I have loved your books since my daughter Diane gave me Heart of the Home (1986) and Christmas Heart of the Home (1990) when she lived on the Vineyard in the late ’80s. Diane was introduced to your books through her friend Valerie. Now I live in Sydney, Australia and have just introduced an Australian friend to your books. She would like to order some for her daughter. Is it possible to have orders from your shop shipped to Australia?
Yes it is . . . if you contact Judy at the studio firstname.lastname@example.org/~susanbs3/susanbranch/ — she’ll help you. Have a wonderful day Phyllis!
Well back to the art page. I am going to try and get into my studio…it’s so small I need to lose weight just to get in but I love it. Have all my ‘stuff’ in there to inspire me. My question, you said you used Cold Pressed paper. Since you hand letter wouldn’t it be easier to use Hot Pressed? I know it’s a killer and an unforgiving paper…I must be crazy to use it. I have a lot of Hot Pressed Arches w/c boards. But I am considering swapping over to Cold Pressed. Is it a little more absorbent? Why do you like it? thanks, karen
I use arches for paintings, and bristol board for pen and ink.
arches hot or cold??
I use cold pressed D’Arches paper — the watercolor block.
thank you…. i love your work and i bought one of your giclee’s (spelling?) and the clarity was great. i’m very comfortable with hot press but it is a pain in the behind. I am so surprised you use cold press, it does have a little bit of tooth, absorbs color a little better, not so hard a line. I am surprised your lettering doesn’t bleed a bit. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to answer me. I appreciate it. (it also probably absorbs little paw prints really well too….)
It does! It’s really beautiful paper.
I always seem to have a ps but I just have to tell you how much I LOVE the set of dishes I bought from you….the Washington ones. I used them at my Christmas Tea. Now I’m looking for two cups to complete the set and some other pieces as well. Wish I could find a teapot. k
The hunt is a very fun thing!
You inspire me. I haven’t painted in many years, but after reading you blog decided to paint again. I am using water color pencils on cold pressed paper. Really like the look. My children were surprised that I had started to paint again. My free time had been taken up with making quilts. One for each of the children and gran kids and great gran kids. In all 11. Keep on doing all the inspiring things you do as they inspire so many others and that is a good thing.
Eleven quilts, what a legacy!!
Hi, Susan ♥
I am an excited but nervous wreck! I just received word from a publisher who loved my submission and wants to see my complete manuscript! Well……I am numb and feel all tongue-tied and my fingers feel like they’re all in a knot! I have tons of work to do yet on my art (the rest is finished) and was wondering if I could ask you for a small piece of advice…..do I just DRAW….anything from my kitchen and breakfast room? You know….things that would go with my recipes and poems? Do I just go with it and keep the pencils and paints flowing freely? I think I am just in a stage of shock and must settle my brain down for a moment. Thank you for allowing me to share with you…..I am just a bit befuddled at the minute 🙂 xxx
CONGRATULATIONS!! How exciting Marie! Just trust that you know the right thing to do! You’re the author! xoxo So happy for you! I know just how you feel! 🙂
Hi Susan, I love everything you do, and like everyone I love your inspiration and your “home ties”. I feel it is so lost in today’s world, and whenever I feel I need a breathe of fresh air, I turn to you! I have recently jotted down some “heart smiles” that I would like to share with my children and friends and looked into self publishing. My question is how do I get my own artwork into my self published writings? Scanning? and if so what works best for that? water colors, pencils, etc.! Along with the book… I want to make them cards and calendars with our traditions, recipes, thoughts, just don’t know how to. Can you give me guidance? Keep up the great work!!! Jennifer
Yes, I think scanning . . . go to a local printer and talk to them — they can help you figure it out!
I just found this section of your blog today.I am visually impaired from a head injury so it takes me some time to read all the good bits.
I paint today because of you.I painted a recipe book for my kids after buying your first book, shortly after I was injured and recieved a brain injury that for the next years would slowly rob my sight, having your books gave me something I could count on always.I still paint and have sold quite a few over the years, I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your work..My sight is still diminishing but not my love to paint, we can always adapt.
That is so wonderful to hear Laurie, that “we can always adapt.” You’re an inspiration! xoxo
Hello from Canada Susan. Your blog, your books, your art make me ridiculously happy. I just started taking a sketch course online and my ultimate goal is to be able to do sweet little watercolours like you’ve done forever. You’re my inspiration. (Insert music here-LOL) Thanks for all the years of valuing domesticity and the true simple things in life. If ever someone needs to set their priorities straight they need go no further than the pages of your books. I would love it if you did an instructional sketching/watercoluring course either online or in a book. (any chance of that?) Man, do I think you are one neat girl. Thanks again.
That was so sweet Debby, thank you. I am really thinking about doing a watercolor course type of thing. I’ll let you know if it comes to fruition. xoxo Thank you for being here.
What is the make and model of your art table? Where did you find it?
It is quite beautiful for something so functional.
It’s pretty old now, I couldn’t tell you the make and model. There’s nothing written on it, but I think they still make them. It’s made from wood and it’s adjustable.
Dear Susan, I just love your art and your heart ! XO betsy
That was so sweet, thank you Betsy!
Hi Susan! I have so enjoyed your website, thank you for sharing your blessings with all of us out here in internet land. I have been a fan of yours for many many years and I thank you for using your God given gifts to bless others. 🙂 I am grateful for the little bits of info and advice you give too, that is a huge help as I am just finishing up a two year (well, two and a half for me!) distance education art course and am finally getting to the point where I can create my portfolio to send off with hope and a prayer to those nifty art licensing companies! I am thirty four now ( wow, when did that happen?) And a busy stay at home momma of two neat kids and a wife of an uber supportive husband who is my biggest cheerleader. 🙂 We all need someone like that! All that being said, it’s time! I have learned a lot in this course that I am finishing, but still have to find refine the watercolor technique I am going to use. My questions for you wonderful lady are: 1. Do you use watercolor pencils or regular colored pencils at all? And 2. Are there any rules as far as what colors reproduce well or not so well, or do I get to have at it and just have fun using whatever colors suit my fancy? Ok one more if I may…What is the average size of your work? Do companies have a preference of what size the artwork comes in? Ok, I’m done and will leave you be, but thank you kindly for your listening ear. Thanks too for sharing your trip photos, I dream of going to Beatrix’s house someday with my honey too and look forward to hearing about your adventures there. And I teared up when you described that “cloud of contentment” you feel each morning that causes you to stop and thank the Lord for it. Wow, that’s the way it should be.
Hi Jaime … To answer your questions…I don’t use pencils at all and colors reproduce equally well as far as I can tell. You can have fun using any you like and even make up your own! Usually when you see my art, especially in all of my books, it was painted to that exact size. I can enlarge it later, or reduce it for other uses, such as calendars, fabric or cards, but the books are printed with the art just as it was painted. I was 39 when my first book came out . . . you have plenty of time! Good luck!
Thanks so much Susan! Wow, I can’t believe you took the time to write back to me during your travels! God bless and I am so excited to get started on my own journey, thanks for the encouragement. 🙂 Here we go!
Dear Susan thank you for showing us how you paint ! Its just so beautiful!! I saw in one of the pictures some crayons ?Do you use crayons in you work?It would be much apreciated if you could. Thanks! Faith
Not really … I wrote in crayon once in my Baby Love book — but that was it, I think. I just like to look at them!
I do to ! They are just so vibrant!Thanks!
Susan, how did you get so lucky to have your 2 best girlfriends live that close to you? Maybe this is a story in one of the books I have not acquired of yours yet. Please give me a clue!! That is just awesome.
It was a lucky accident really! I met Martha after she moved in — I knew Lowely before, but not as well as I know her now! Lowely was working in real estate and sold Martha her house! It was just luck!
Great story! Life is wonderful in those ways. Thanks again for sharing!
Good morning Susan, Just read through the comments linked to this post and read that you might do an online art course – I do hope you find the time to do this! It would be amazing, I’m sure! Love all that you do. How are the kitties, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from them. Perhaps their new found fame has gone to their furry heads!
They are wonderful. Girl walks across my desk and climbs onto my shoulder for a cuddle and Jack, ah Jack, is a total DOLL–I can’t get over such dollness in one kitty.
Hi Susan! I’m 14 and I just discovered you because my friend’s mom had one of your calendars hanging in her kitchen. I thought it was really pretty and inspiring and asked her who the artist was and she told me it was you! I’m so happy I discovered your blog, it’s so inspirational and your watercolor drawings are amazing!
Nice to meet you Mary! Thanks for saying hello!
Dear Susan, Hope this note finds you and Joe getting alittle rest. I just had to tell you that quite a few years ago I mailed away for a t-shirt from a restaurant that I had seen on a travel show. I still have it. The shirt was from The Black Dog!!! I couldn’t believe it when I found out that your Joe was the owner. It really is a small world. Take care and looking forward to this fall, my favorite time of the year. I can’t wait for your tea and tea tin. Love your art and like everyone else appreciate your many talents. You really do bring the world beauty and joy. God Bless you and your family.
Small world Dewena! Thank you so much.
You are my hero! I found my soul thanks to your books and this page!
Sweet thing to say . . . but then you noticed, I’m sure, it was always there, just waiting for YOU. ♥ ♥ ♥
I have fallen completely, Head- over -Heels in Love with your books! I have Ms and my heart and soul long for things of comfort and joy and Peace, Like Christmas! to me, that is your Books!
A BigTennessee Hug!
Such love words Connie Sue. Keep on keepin’ on Girlfriend, sending much love. xoxo
Susan- just curious- what sources do you use for your calligraphy and type style? It seems fairly constant and easy to read. Thanks!
It’s just my “good” handwriting. I didn’t learn it anywhere, it came in the package of what is me.
Well, I think it must be a gift- and you have it!
I “found” you in the 80’s when your art and recipes were in Country Living Magazine(I tore them out and slipped them in page protectors and made my own “cook book” with them). Then I bought lots of your stickers, I even used them to “decorate” my journals. Now I have found your blog! Yay! I totally love what you said about how you feel when you walk into your studio in the morning. I am a quilter and that is exactly how I feel when I walk into my studio. My favorite time to be there is early-mid day when the light is the best. The main window is faces east.
Nice to see you here Marie!
I love how you describe the first time you painted. It’s a very inspiring story!
It motivates me to explore my own creativity more.
Good! I think it’s interesting that I never painted until I was 30 and didn’t know I could. That means lots of other people are harboring secret talents they don’t know about. Worth exploring.
I read a SB blog, get up and rearrange a bookshelf……read another SB blog, shed (happy) tears….get up and pull out a box of pictures that I must do something with…..I read yet another SB blog…..and say to myself “What a wonderful world”…..thank you Susan Branch for being such an inspiration! I’m not an artist or an author and will never be; however, just reading about what you’ve done and loving what you do inspires me to dig deeper into the world of literacy and art of others. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
My extreme pleasure Ann, I love your comment!
yet, again, just darling blog. You are so creative and talented…….
I bought that first geranium painting you did. I was at a fashion show at your home in slo. I loved it at first sight. I think it was the first painting I ever purchased… it spoke to me. It has been hanging in my living room for over 30 years and it still brings a smile to my face and my heart. Thank you Susan.
I remember your name Linda! That fashion show! That was so much fun! I’d never done anything like that, and that’s where I sold my first paintings! I actually still have that first geranium painting I did. I signed it with only an SB and not my full name. Does your’s have that on it too? Because you are reminding me I may have done more than one of those. I’m so excited to hear you have it because I completely forgot! When you think there were only about 75 people at that event, isn’t it amazing that all these years later, we can meet here and be in touch? Thanks for saying hello Linda! You just brought back a memory of a very fun day for me.
It was such a fun day! I remember it well. I went on my husband’s insistence. Gary thought so much of you. He said I would love you beautiful home and you were a very special lady. Both were true.
I fell in love with that single potted geranium. It is signed with your full name and March 1981. I love it! Health and happiness to you.
Was Gary a woodworker (I am searching my files in the way back machine to figure out how I knew you)? That was so sweet. Yes I painted my first picture in 1977, so I must have done it again, when I was braver and signed my full name and included the date. I didn’t remember, but I’m so glad you have that!
Gary was a plumber who worked on your new house.
I knew he had something to do with the house! Incredible, all these years later and here we are again! Thank you for saying hello, Linda ~ Maybe we will run into each other sometime in SLO!
What color are the walls in your Art Studio? (if you don’t mind me asking??)
Kind of orange 🙂 I know, huge help. But I don’t have that color anymore, I’m sorry Mamey!
Are your fabrics sold in the Chicago area? I just loved bundle you gave away…..but, alas, I didn’t win. Sounds silly but…I adore your work! So inspirational! =^..^=
I’m sorry to tell you, my fabrics are no longer being made . . . we have a few here in my web store, but not many, and you can find bits and pieces out there in Google-land sometimes. Thank you Emily!
Love, love your web site and art. I hope you get some more charms come in soon. I want to get them for my 2 dearest friends.
We were just working on that this morning. Which ones are you wishing for?
I’ve been a big fan of yours since the 80’s when I first saw your work in Country Living magazine. You are truly an inspiration to me.
I loved reading this piece about your studio and how you got started with watercolors. I wonder if you would mind answering a question? You mentioned that you use Bristol board for pen and ink, and watercolor paper for your paintings. What do you use for pages that contain both–such as illustrated recipes, or on your calendar pages where writing and illustrations are intermixed?
Thanks so much for all you do! God bless you and Joe.
If there’s lots of writing, I use the Bristol Board . . .
Thanks for replying, Susan.
I’m not familiar with Bristol board and all it can be used for (websites give conflicting advice), and your information helps.
Well, as you can probably tell, I don’t know the “rules” but it’s worked for me.
You are Blessed!
I feel that every day, thank you Meg.
Thank you so much for years of wonderful blessings. About a year ago I retired from a career in police communications, our hours were long, stress levels high. During the years I would find myself going to your books, your website, your cards and just unwinding- it was a peace in the middle of chaos at times.
Now retired, I am writing children’s books, and loving the peace of country life, and know God is blessing me every day. One day, I may try my hand at drawing, but for now, I’ll admire others handiwork. Thank you again for being a blessing to me. Hugs and blessings back to you!
The same to you DJ! Happy retirement!
Susan………I’ve been coloring for years (sounds silly doesn’t it?), but now there are the greatest coloring books for adults and I wonder if you’ve thought about creating some (in your spare time)…………I hear they are becoming very popular. I’ve had one that Mary Engelbreit put out a few years ago, and I tried to get another of the same one, couldn’t find it, but did see it on Ebay with asking price of $149 – well, I know yours would be just as wonderful. xoxo
I’ve been thinking about it!
Yay!! In your spare time, of course!
Dear Susan, I’ve devoured “The Fairy Tale Girl” and “Martha’s Vineyard…” and have just started “A Fine Romance”. I just can’t seem to get enough! You and I are the same age (well, you’re a few months older…I was born in January 1948) and so much of how you think and how you were raised…our expectations of life..are so identical! I’d like to think that if we’d grown up in the same town we would’ve been close friends. Kindred spirits!! (And, of course, I just love your art!!)
Thank you Julie!!
This is the first time I’ve heard of you, unfortunately, but I’m reading
Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams and can’t put it down!!! It is the most
beautifully-written and interesting book I’ve ever read (and I have been
a reader for over 75 years (I am 92). And your writing is just perfect!
I am sending a friend who just bought a little house in Cape Cod and
sending copies to my daughter and granddaughters. And your art work
is also beautiful!!!!! After a depressing week due to the election results,
your book has cheered me up! Thank you!!
How nice to hear from you Lillian! I’m so happy you enjoyed my book, makes my day to hear it. Thank you💖 xoxoxo
I see now on your blog that you use water color…I have always wanted to know.
I have all of your books and love love love your painting..love that you share info on your paints and brushes..
I have a dream…that you will teach a workshop on the Vineyard…
Would you ever think of doing that???
I would never say never. So, maybe!
Are you going to do a coloring book for those of us who don’t have natural drawing talent? Please, please, please!
My name is George Barbara from California. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work. I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too, You are doing a great job. I would like to purchase one of your piece “Ferry Leaving Vineyard Haven”, as a surprise to my wife on our anniversary. Also, let me know if you accept Check as mode of Payment.
Thanks and best regards
Hi George, please write Sheri@126.96.36.199/~susanbs3/susanbranch/ and she will help you!
Dear Susan, I just wanted to say hello and ask a question.
I sent you a long, boring email a while back and then figured with the gazillion messages you likely get you don’t have time to read/answer emails. So here I am.
I know you have many kindred spirits and many of us discover people like you and cannot believe the similarities in taste, style and approach. I don’t have your painting skill, that’s for sure, but Ive been painting for a long time and it is the joy of it that keeps me going. I have always made my children their own recipe books and journals – all hand written and hand drawn/painted with lots of borders and little pictures. The first time I saw you feature a corgi I nearly squealed with delight – I have corgi’s and I swear they are my spirit animals. England is my spirit home, and tea….well!
I am currently working on a painted journal of my home and I am curious about something – your later books feature a lot of photos (that is how I came across you); I wondered if your photos are actually stuck onto your pages scrapbook style and then the entire thing scanned (which is how I usually do it) or if you complete the page and then scan and add in the photos digitally? I was going to try this for my next project but it feels very grown up and modern.. So I wondered how you do it. Probably properly…
Anyway, many congratulations to you for your creative life and the output of work you have achieved. You have a wonderful legacy and have done a good job of life. Have a gorgeous day 🙂
I do it both ways! Depends on the project! They both work. Thank you so much Tilly, I hope this helps!