Texas City artist Susan Douglass Moody specializes in luminous, soft-focus paintings on silk. Her dreamy impressionistic works have captured the gazes of visitors to the Galveston Art League’s gallery on 6th Street in Texas City as well as those of contest judges. Moody, 76, has won awards in Galveston Art League (2016 and 2018) and National Society of Artists Lone Star Art Guild Spring Members Qualifier (2018) competitions.
She studied art at Metro State College and The Art Institute in Denver, but calls herself “basically a self-taught silk painter.” Applying paints and dyes to silk can yield surprising results, Moody says, but the suspenseful outcome feeds her passion for the medium. She shares that passion by teaching painting on silk at the College of the Mainland 50 Plus Program in La Marque.
During Texas City’s semiannual Art Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 22, her artwork will be on display and for sale at the Art League gallery, 611 6th St. N.
Moody, whose daughter Sharon Jones also happens to be active in the Galveston Art League, tells more about her art below.
Q: How did you start painting on silk?
A: All my life I’ve created visually through drawing, painting, and photography. I discovered painting on silk with my sister-in-law, a seamstress. We learned how to paint on silk, and my first project was a dress I made for my 50th High School Reunion. I was hooked after that.
Q: What materials and supplies are necessary?
A: You need to wear protective clothing and vinyl gloves. You paint on silk fabric in yardage or you can purchase readymade silk scarfs. There are a variety of silk paints and dyes that can be used. These flow easily on the silk and do not leave any “hand,” or feel, when they’re heat-set. Watercolor brushes can be used for painting. Other supplies ― alcohol, water, salt, or gutta resist [a thick substance that creates boundaries for paint] ― produce various techniques. Silk needs to be supported on freezer paper or a frame for painting.
Q: Where do you buy supplies?
A: Supplies are available on the internet at Dharma Trading Co., Dick Blick, and other art suppliers. Texas Art Supply also carries many supplies.
Q: Step through your process.
A: The silk is washed and ironed, then attached suspended to a frame or ironed on freezer paper for painting. I might sketch a suggested image using light pencil or brush. I start with light color because any additional color will either darken or change the color underneath. After the painting is completed, the piece is allowed to rest for 24 to 48 hours. Then the fabric must be heat-set. Silk painted with silk paints are ironed; silk dyes are heat-set by steaming. The painting can be framed under glass or wrapped on canvas.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: I find nature inspiring. I often use my photos as reference for a painting. My favorite subjects are flowers, trees, seascapes, and landscapes. They are well-suited to painting impressionistic images.
Q: You belong to the Galveston Art League, National Society of Artists, Silk Painters International, and Guild of Silk Painters. How do membership and volunteer work benefit you?
A: It is an opportunity to display and promote my art and allows me to interact with fellow artist and the community. I find being around other artists encouraging. Seeing their work and exchanging ideas and techniques promotes my growth as an artist. Taking classes and teaching also have helped me improve my skills.
Q: How many pieces do you create each year?
A: Perhaps four to eight, depending on the amount of time I have and the size of the piece. Sometimes I paint quickly and spontaneously. I often spend a lot of time looking at the piece and working out problems that have manifested during the painting process.
Q: For you, what is the most difficult aspect of painting on silk?
A: Deciding on an idea and getting started.
Q: And what’s the most rewarding aspect?
A: It is fun! I love the excitement when I am painting on silk. I do not use any resist to stop the flow of paints or dyes, so it is unpredictable and spreads uncontrolled. This challenge of creating something from this free-flow technique is fun for me!