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Discover the incredible journey of artist Susan Rand as she confronts her trauma and triumphs through her hauntingly beautiful paintings in this gripping tale of resilience and healing.


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In a small town in Salisbury, CT, I had the privilege of stepping into the studio of artist Susan Rand. What I expected to be a conversation about artistic freedom and the joys of an empty nest turned into a heartfelt exploration of disrupted childhoods, the weight of depression, and the courage to heal through art. Susan’s paintings, filled with vibrant colors, eerie tones, and touches of humor, tell a tale of incredible honesty and bravery. This interview has been a deeply fulfilling experience for me, as I attempt to capture the essence of Susan’s remarkable journey.

Susan’s upbringing was far from ordinary. Raised in Greenwich, CT, she and her siblings faced unimaginable tragedy at a young age, losing both parents in separate accidents within eight months. Forced to move to Delaware and live with relatives, Susan found herself in an unfamiliar environment, struggling to catch up academically and feeling isolated. Her childhood was marked by trauma, fear, and a sense of unease.

The spark of Susan’s artistic journey came unexpectedly. Growing up, art was not a significant part of her life, aside from a cherished portrait of her and her siblings. It wasn’t until seventh grade that she encountered Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” poster in her school’s infirmary, igniting a fascination with art. In high school, she worked as a photographer for a local newspaper, discovering her love for the craft. This experience became the focus of her senior project.

Susan’s evolution as an artist truly took shape during her time at Goddard College in Vermont, where she pursued photography. Guided by an inspiring teacher, she learned to capture not just images but emotions. She began hand coloring her black and white photographs and experimenting with polaroid SX-70 film, manipulating the emulsion and adding pastel touches. These works became her first exhibition at the Norfolk, CT library in 1999.

Float N Flood_Susan Rand oil on canvas 20x28 2019.jpg

Float N Flood, 2019, oil on canvas, 20x28

Swimmers No 7_Susan Rand oil on canvas 12x16 2021.jpg

Swimmers No 7, 2021, oil on canvas, 12x16

Watching_Susan Rand oil on panel 18x22 2020.jpg

Float N Flood, 2019, oil on canvas, 20x28


However, it was Susan’s battle with depression that pushed her toward painting. As her children grew up and left home, she found herself facing an empty nest and overwhelming feelings of emptiness and fear. A life-altering accident, where she fell twelve feet and shattered her wrist, became a turning point. While recovering in the hospital, Susan heard a voice from within, urging her to quit her job and start painting.

With a newfound determination, Susan embarked on a journey of learning and self-discovery. She enrolled in drawing and painting classes, initially finding the process challenging and frustrating. But she persevered, and today she stands as a thriving artist, embracing her true passion.

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Swimmers No 6_Susan Rand oil on panel 12x24 2021.jpg
Old Friends Swimming_Susan Rand oil on canvas 26x30 2021.jpg

Float N Flood, 2019, oil on canvas, 20x28

Pink Suit_Susan Rand acrylic on canvas 20x24 2022.jpg

Pink Suit, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 20x24

Walking on Water_Susan Rand acrylic on panel 26x46 2022.jpg

Old Friends Swimming, 2021, oil on canvas, 26x30

Walking on Water, 2022, acrylic on panel, 26x46


Susan’s paintings have been described as haunting and eerie, and she agrees with this assessment. They reflect her underlying fears and anxieties, the constant anticipation of something going wrong. Yet, amidst the darkness, there is also humor and vivid color, a testament to her resilience and ability to find light even in the shadows.

When asked about her favorite piece in her current show, Susan points to “Green Raft” and “Walking On Water.” Both paintings embody the delicate balance of humor and darkness that defines her work. They serve as a reminder of the freedom she felt while creating them.

Susan Rand’s journey is one of triumph over trauma, a testament to the power of art as a healing force. Her paintings, with their haunting beauty, invite viewers into her world, a world where pain and joy coexist. Through her courageous storytelling, Susan inspires others to confront their own struggles and find solace in creativity.

As I leave Susan’s studio, I am filled with admiration for her strength and gratitude for the opportunity to share her story. Susan Rand is not only a thriving artist but also a beacon of hope for those navigating their own journey through darkness.

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