Age of my daughter. She loves old pickup trucks and is studying and exploring in the West.
Years married to a writer, sour-dough baker, bicycle enthusiast, champion of all things humanities.
The year I made Sue Schlabach Creative LLC my full time gig!
Number of yellow items in my life (as of yesterday).
The number of months when it’s warm enough for me to paint en plein air. (I work in acrylics.)
Number of chords I can play on
the ukelele. It is an old Martin ukelele that belonged to my Grandpa Glass.
Number of years I have lived in Vermont
2023 is a year of transition. I left my Creative Director job in January and began the work of building a fully creative life. It’s a time of unlearning office patterns, and being intentional about new habits that springboard to fresh thinking, happy surprises, mistakes to learn from, and on-going connection to my creative community (a furniture maker, an elderly printmaker, a master oilpainter and a flax grower (among many others). These days include painting, teaching, designing, writing, organizing and community engagement in my village and grassroots organizing in my larger community.
In my sunny home studio I’m putting on my paint-crusted apron and squeezing out the acrylics on my palette. An extension of the studio is the garden where principles of design, color and aesthetics are just as juicy and exciting.
My studio is the former taproom of an 1830s brick house.
In 2017 we bought The Little Brick, after a few years of sitting empty. It took 11 months to banish the mouse nests, open up a few walls, strip acres of wallpaper, tear out falling ceilings and repair plaster walls. Then we sanded uneven floors on our hands and knees. And did thousands of other difficult—yet satisfying—tasks.
We set about thinking of it as a 2,000 square foot art project, beginning–as you do–with painting the refrigerator yellow.
We hired two carpenters, an electrician and a plumber to do what we couldn’t do ourselves. And now we live inside the result of all that labor. We’re keeping the mice at bay, and cooking, gardening, writing and making art…the direct manifestation of a pivotal moment for me as an artist.
First Steps in this Creative Journey Began Back in 1999
“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
— Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
We were visiting my parents who were living in London for a few years. It was September of 1999. We reveled in London’s pleasures for a few days and then drove south to Lewes, near the famous cliffs of Dover, to visit the home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was balmy in England and the roads were lined with inky purple elderberries. The fields were the color of caramel.
Charleston, the house Vanessa and Duncan began to occupy in the early part of the 20th century, is now a restored historic site, open to visitors.
Nothing prepared me for how I’d feel upon entering Charleston.
Annie Dillard’s words describe the exact feeling. Until then I had put my creative life on hold with excuses. Each surface of the house was decoratively adorned with paint or textiles or collage. Even book spines were painted. And the garden was an extension of this artful exuberance. I felt a sense of urgency that now was the time to start, not the time to wait until it was convenient. That urgency hasn’t left me, though it’s been expressed in a variety of ways. For me the act of creative expression is a very elemental thing, and when making or imagining something I feel the most alive, bell ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing.
Want a little blue sky in your inbox?
I send emails when the stars align (every so often).