Pandemic pivots: Painting a new perspective

This series profiles local residents and business professionals who have reinvented their creative and business pursuits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Know someone who has made lemonade out of lemons during the lockdown? Discovered a hidden passion that’s evolved into a new venture? Submit your stories to info@thelivingstonpost.com.

Susan Pominville is many things to many people. She’s the creative force behind many businesses’ logos (including those of The Livingston Post), branding and marketing. Her colorful photos have chronicled Livingston County — including events like the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest — for many years. She’s created educational tools to help kids discover how to use words to express themselves. Her three sons in Howell Schools and area sports teams keep her busy, as does her husband, Paul. Then there’s the three goats she tends, more for fun than for milk.

But to herself, Susan has always been an artist. She first began painting during her studies at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, but as her design studio grew, there was less and less time for her own creative expression.

For more than three decades, Susan has worked as a busy brand strategist and an accomplished photographer in her businesses Abovo Communications and Picture Livingston.com, both of which draw heavily on event and business promotion. Enter the coronavirus, which shut down virtually all local events, community festivals and social gatherings. The pause gave Susan the perfect opportunity to pick up her paintbrush and palette again.

“My painting is an outlet for bold, meditative and illuminating self-expression,” she explains. “As the world turned inward, I poured my feelings into creating works that bring a sense of joy, light, and calm.”

Over the past year, Susan has expanded her collection, displaying her works in an online gallery, spominville.com. Preferring the plein air method of painting, she willingly foregoes her cozy studio and sets out, even on the coldest winter days, in search of the perfect light, color and movement that can only be captured when immersed in nature. She delights in working with color. With quick gestural strokes of a palette knife, she builds paint up in layers, then scrapes and shapes them into what her mind’s eye can conceive. Her “intuitive abstract” works are fueled by intuition and guided by emotion.

Short, amusing behind-the-scenes videos on her YouTube channel capture her creative process in action. At times, Jackson Pollock-style, she seems to haphazardly slosh paint onto the canvas. Occasionally, she paints her subjects upside down, with the final image a mystery until she turns the canvas over to reveal it. Often at her side (and the subject of a few works himself) is her faithful companion Clark, an Australian Shepherd that steals the show on a number of clips.

In addition to her vibrant, bold abstracts, Susan’s online gallery features a collection of impressionistic takes on scenes that may be fondly recognizable to Michiganders. For her series inspired by Mackinac Island, she draws from masters such as van Gogh, with his love of color and multi-layered technique, and Georgia O’Keeffe, who brilliantly draws the viewer into her paintings with a magnified close-up of the tiniest details.

In Susan’s Mack and Turtle Shell Sunset, for example, each print is taken from a larger image of a family of turtles she painted of Mackinac Island. A member of the Mackinac Arts Council, she zooms in on the fine details often lost in the “bigger picture,” giving viewers a new appreciation of the simple beauty and magnificent intricacy of a turtle’s shell.   Watch the turtle painting being created here.

“Inspiration can take many forms and often leads to playful, compelling and unexpected surprises,” she notes. “I invite you to explore the backstory behind each of my works and enjoy the journey of how they came to be.”

As dedicated as Susan is to her work as a brand strategist and photographer, she’s excited to share this extension of her talent with new audiences. Prints from her collection can be ordered via her online gallery in many formats and sizes. Original oils are also available upon request. To see more, watch her YouTube channel  for regular uploads to her growing video library of works in progress.

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The Livingston Post is the only locally owned, all-digital information and opinion site in Livingston County, Mich. It was launched by award-winning journalists who were laid off from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus by Gannett Co. Inc. in 2009.

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