Susan Laughton worked in architecture for twelve years before returning to education to study art graduating with a BA Hons in 2002. Her work is exhibited regularly in the UK and is held in private collections in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia. It has been selected for the Royal West of England Academy Drawn exhibition, Royal Scottish Academy Annual exhibition and Fully Awake 5:6 at the Freelands Foundation, London. She has been professional artist since 2006 and currently works from Vale Artists Studios in Cheshire.
I sand and score the surface of plywood paintings panels before applying a thin layer of white plaster. This is a very physical method especially on larger panels when it is a race against time getting the plaster evenly spread before it starts to set. It then has to dry for for up to three days depending on the time of year. Next I sand the plaster to achieve some smoothness whilst maintaining any interesting marks that become part of the finished work.
After sanding I paint a solid layer of acrylic colour onto the plaster. This has to dry for a day or two. I then use pencil to very lightly mark out the main forms of the painting based on sketchbook work, although I often adjust the forms in response to marks in the surface of the plaster. Using an etching point I score repeated parallel lines through the layer of acrylic into the plaster surface. I also scratch freehand marks into the surface and use sanding blocks to scratch and ‘draw’ into the surface, This is a risky process! – although I like the way this creates uncontrolled random marks that develop the painting beyond my initial ideas I also have to be careful that these marks don’t destroy my intended outcome, at which point I have to start again. Multiple glazes of paint are then washed over the surface, which cling to the plaster and acrylic in different ways. I then respond to these washes of colour with further sanding and etching of lines in conversation with the surface of the painting. This is an emotional and subconscious approach after the analytical and methodical early stages and often feels the most successful when I feel that the painting has created itself.