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Susan Arneson

Creating Emotion Through Use of Color 


Color is my favorite emotion. I work with watercolors because color + water will work its way down the paper – never knowing exactly how the paint will express itself. This spontaneity excites me and I am constantly inspired. I love that! 

As a nurse, I have worked in multiple environments, but I spent 15 years of my life working with disadvantaged teenagers and I am in awe of learned things from them.  I have learned:  

Spontaneity, the healing of humor, that trust is sought – not bought, bursts of energy and ‘crazy fun’, new ways can replace old ways, music drowns or can change emotions, bolstered egos, the recognition of a child within all of us, gangs are for safety, not choices, bad can turn to good and new ways can replace old ways, being right has to do with dignity, decorative piercing is not who you are,  situations are never as they seem, respect is earned and that color can feel too loud.

Coming of age in the ‘70s, and of German heritage on a farm in WillowCity, North Dakota. I now reside in Polson, Montana, where I have chosen my way through life, curious about the things that I see, the emotions I feel or create and the relationships among people.  I love to learn and I have been given the faith to see the good in my life and those of others. There are depths of color and emotion in all things. 

Inspired by parents and grandparents, I started with embroidery as a child and have been a crafter and quilter most of my life.  I was taught the perfection of handwork, the delicacy of finely colored flowers, the appreciation of antiques and the recognition of types of antique dishes based on their color.  I grew up with a penchant for learning and a love of handmade objects appreciated for their craftsmanship. There is a generational tie of creating new things out of simple materials.  

I believe that color expresses emotions. People dress in certain colors that forecast their mood or personality.  Babies make us think of pastel colors and illness puts us in a blue zone.  Rain makes us think of rainbows which is happiness in bright colors. Sadness makes us think of blues and purples.  Green gives a sense of all things growing. Peacefulness makes a beautiful sunset. 

When I paint with watercolors in my home studio, often in the late evenings while I’m listening to music, I strive to create emotion through the use of color.  This process is both challenging and exhilarating.  I have found that during the creative process, music can change emotion and sometimes colors do feel too loud. Other times in my studio, the child within me wants to “get out” and have “crazy fun”.  That spontaneity and inspiration requires bursts of color and energy.  You never know exactly how the piece of artwork is going to turn out, it just happens.   

I love that! 

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