The Portable Painter
Bringing out the artist in everyone
We first heard about local artist Suzi Long’s roving art classes from some guests that stay with us every fall. They had established a relationship with Suzi over their years of coming to Mendocino, and this past visit they signed up for her to give them one of her signature lessons in pen and watercolor on the Main Deck of the inn. It was a hit! They had so much fun doing the class, and we got such a kick out of seeing how enthusiastic Suzi was about sharing her love and knowledge of art, that we decided we absolutely needed to get a little more acquainted with her unique offering.
As an artist, Suzi is adept at using a variety of mediums, specializing in pastels, but her first love has always been watercolors. She got into it as a young child at the encouragement of her mother, and has ever since been fascinated with using its delicate tints as a means of expressing the way she sees the world around her. She entered a successful career as an artist at a fairly young age, and was soon brimming over with a deep desire to share the joy of art with everyone who was even the least bit curious. She started teaching formal art classes when she lived in Marin. Then when she had her art gallery in one of the water towers in the village of Mendocino, she decided to run drop-in pen and watercolor classes as an accessible expression of art that brand-new beginners and seasoned experts alike could enjoy. She tells the story of the moment she realized that people were really longing for just such an opportunity:
“I was sitting out with the crowds along the streets of Mendocino one 4th of July, sketching and painting the parade, the spectators, the buildings, just everything. Pretty soon, I was being mobbed by people who wanted me to show them how to sketch and use the watercolors. I knew I HAD to do something!”
For 12 years, Suzi taught locals and tourists alike the basics of drawing and watercolor out of her gallery, using the eye-catching water towers in the village as a model. She loved it. And the people loved it! She recounts several instances of students coming back one, two, or even several years later to show her their most recent work and tell her how her class affected their life path. When Suzi left her hallmark water tower space this past year, she knew she couldn’t just give up bringing tangible art into people’s lives, so she decided to start offering mobile art classes to any and all.
She has had the pleasure to teach private and group classes many places, including Carmel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Squaw Valley. She even got to lead a birthday art weekend for a group up in beautiful Shelter Cove that she particularly remembers. When we asked her how far away she would be willing to travel for a class, she said:
“As long as there’s really good food, a comfy bed, and plenty of chocolate, I’ll go just about anywhere!”
Knowing that The Portable Painter is a unique opportunity to experience Mendocino on a different level, we invited Suzi to come give us a class at the inn. We fortified her against the brisk afternoon air with a steaming mug of our decadent Belgian-style drinking chocolate, and she immediately set about opening the world of art to our inexperienced minds. She explained in simple and understandable terms proportion, lines, shading, forms, and a host of other things that had always seemed to be too complicated for us non-artists. She made us practice each thing we talked about, giving plenty of encouragement along the way. She also regaled us with stories of her life as an artist, of this painting or that, of people and life in Mendocino. The hour and a half lesson flew by, and before we knew it, we had at least one pretty decent painting from our inexperienced hands, which we were excited about!
As Suzi showed us how to clean up our watercolor kits and finished off the last cooling sip of her chocolate, we agreed that we had to join in her quest to share art with the world. So next time you come stay with us, we would absolutely love to get you set up with your very own personal introduction to the joys of artistic expression. Here’s to bringing out the artist in everyone!
Written by Laura Hockett