Tuesday, June 24, 2014


What is your name?

Susan Mauck

Where are you from?

I grew up in the small Southern Indiana           town of Odon.  Odon was a bit like the TV   show, Mayberry.  I remember that I couldn't wait to  move to a big city.  But, in retrospect, it was a wonderful place to grow up. It was the late 1950's and early 1960's and life was simpler. 

Where do you live?    

Most of my adult life I lived on Indianapolis's Northside.  Nine years ago I moved to the Carmel/Westfield area.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

From childhood...I just always knew. 
I didn't have many toys and was an only child.  I remember spending hours drawing and designing my own "paper doll" clothes.  I was that student the teachers always asked to "make a poster" or create something for the bulletin board. Later, it was class play backdrops and "prom" decorations.  I was always the "creative" one. 


Who influenced you as an artist?

As a child, one of my biggest fans was the "preacher's wife".  We went to church "a lot" and during the Sunday night services Mrs. Webb would slip me paper to draw the people in the congregation.  They were tiny portraits.  People were fascinated and always wanted to see who I had drawn that night.  Looking back, I believe that is where my love of "portraiture" truly began. 
As an adult I studied portrait painting  with Wm. G. Ashby who used to say "Susan, if you were a little 'hungrier', you would be a 'damn good artist'."  
Later, I understood what he meant.And , of course, there were the Impressionists. 
My favorites being Degas and Cassatt.  How I would have loved to have live in Paris when the impressionists were changing the art world.

What is your favorite medium?

Oil  in my favorite.  However, I do like experimenting with new mediums.  Love working in charcoal on bristol paper especially when drawing the figure. 

Do you have a studio? Where is it?

Yes.  Recently I opened French Bleu Gallery in the Carmel Arts & Design District and have  studio space there.  For 11 years I rented  a studio  in the Historic Stutz Building in downtown Indy.  I also have turned my 'seldom used" dining area  into my at home studio space. 

When did you become a mother?

On June 24, 1975, my daughter and only child  Nikko was born.  I am also fortunate to have two wonderful grandsons in my life. 

What were your challenges as a new mother artist?

Motherhood does change everything.  Time is undoubtedly the biggest challenge.  I remember as a young new mother just wanting to have time for a shower. 


What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

To be honest, I am not sure I have ever had that "balance".  Being a mother always came first and still does, even though my daughter is all grown up.    It was all the other "life issues" that seemed to be the problem. 

When do you spend time making art?

In the early years whenever I could find the time.  I always found it very difficult to work at home.  Over the years, I made sure I was always taking  some type of art class or workshop.  It was my way of keeping connected to the art world.  I knew that being enrolled in a weekly class would insure that I was creating something.   And , now, I make sure that I paint every week.  It is how I make my living.  I am fortunate to have my own gallery/studio. 

How many children do you have? 

One daughter.  One of my biggest regrets was not having another child.  

Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

No, because I felt I could do both.    Laundry and cooking?  I give that up all the time!!! 

Do you have support from your family and friends to keep making art?

More so now than in the early years. Many of my friends are artists, so they get it, and understand the passion of making art.    One of the best things a mother artist can do is to surround herself with a network of creative people.   Just "talking art" keeps you motivated and inspired.    

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

When I had my daughter it was the mid 1970's, the Women's Rights movement was strong and Helen Reddy was singing "I Am Woman" . We all thought we could "do it all".  We soon realized that might have been asking a bit too much.

Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

Most definitely.  Over the years my daughter and grandsons have  actually been the inspiration for many on my paintings.  One of the reoccurring themes in my art is the "mother and child" .  Capturing that moment in time that is so endearing.  Recently I painted a series of "Saturday Mornings" capturing that close connection of mothers and children in bed.  It has become one of my most popular  themes that clients commission me to paint.

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

I don't think it is a mother issue.  History tells us women artists have not been taken as seriously as men artists. I do believe that now that may be changing.  I know several very successful women artists.  

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” and are you offended by such a question?
Since I am now divorced that is not an issue.  But, yes, I would be offended. 

What is your story?

Where  should  I begin?  1967?  That was the year I graduated high school.   I went from "county fair queen" to "hippy flower child" . With my long hair, love beads, and bell bottoms  I enrolled in Indiana University Bloomington to study art.   And I loved it.  All of it.  Drawing, painting,
photography,printmaking, silversmithing, and,art history….  I was becoming an artist….a real artist.
To appease my very strict  parents, who referred to IU as "sin city", I agreed to get my degree in art education. I can still hear their concerned voices telling me I needed "something to fall back on".  In retrospect, they had a very good point!
After graduation, I married Tom Mauck and we moved to Indianapolis.That "art education" degree was put to use when I was hired to teach art in the Indianapolis Public Schools.  I taught in two schools, one K thru 8th grade and the other an inner city school for special needs children.It was a very rewarding experience and I am still in contact with several of my students from those early years.I taught for 4 years, then had my daughter Nikko. 

And now we  enter the Mommy years.  I loved having my little girl.  She was my "buddy" and I wouldn't trade those special years for the world.  I was fortunate enough that I could be a "stay at home mom".  We did everything together.  All my art instructors loved Nikko and she often went with me to class.  We would set her up to paint, and on many occasions would have her "model" for the class.

OK…..let's fast forward….Nikko is getting her BFA in Painting from IU.Ironically, we both studied with two of the same professors, Robert Barnes and Barry Gealt.  Ah, the circle of life!

Now, it is my time to "get serious".   During this time I taught drawing and painting at the Indianapolis Art Center and offered private art classes at Park Tudor School.  With the money I was making I rented a studio in the Historic Stutz Building.  It was here that I was surrounded by other artists and "creative" people.  It was during this time that I studied with some nationally known artists through workshops and seminars.   I was creating a "new life" for myself.  My Stutz studio was also  a refuge from a very dysfunctional marriage.  That is another very long story………so,at age 56, following a " heart attack" caused by stress,  I left my 34 year marriage, moved to Carmel, and  a few years later opened FRENCH BLEU Gallery in the heart of the Art's & Design District.Everyone thought I was crazy for opening a business in the midst of a very unstable economy, but it was MY DREAM and I was going for it!!!  No more waiting for "someday I'm gonna…………"!

And now, at age 65, I am happy to say FRENCH BLEU is doing well , My portrait commissions have become my main source of income, and I am very proud of what  I have accomplished.  I continue to teach occasionally because I truly "love it" and I believe artists have a "special talent" that should be shared. 
What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

That it is not easy, but definitely worth all the  hard work and dedication. I often quote Maria Shriver who said "You can have it all, just not at the same time"  .

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

You have this one life and the gift of creativity…   You are artists, so create the life you envision.   Never give up on your dreams.  Surround yourself with other artists and continue to grow through workshops and classes. You may think you don't have the time, and sometimes that is true, but even looking through art books counts.  Read the book "The Artists' Way"  by Julia Cameron.

What do you want to be remembered for as
an artist?

That I "gave back". I love painting, but what truly fills me with joy, is when I can mentor other artists.  Sharing what I have learned throughout my "artist journey" make me happy.  It is so gratifying knowing that i helped a another artist find their artistic voice. 

To learn more about Susan Mauck please visit: 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely!
    I give up the laundry and the cooking all the time too!