Pittsburgh Artist Registry

Susan Sparks

Susan Sparks

Artistic Category Artist
Career Level Professional
Experienced With Teaching engagements, Speaking engagements, Lectures, Leading workshops, Collaboration


Personally, I do mostly two-dimensional works in painting, drawing and printmaking. I paint with aqueous media, watercolor and acrylic, and pastels. In my acrylic work I have succeeded in attaining the depth an appearance of an oil-like technique as well as the use of transparent washes and glazes in a more traditional use of acrylic. My drawings include works done in pen and ink, charcoal, graphite, and pastel. In addition to my traditional media pieces, I also combine techniques in many of my works on paper. I am also computer literate, and do most of my design and illustration in Adobe Creative Suite.




My most recent work is an exploration of a new media and technique, as well as an exploration of sight and sound. A little over two years ago I was shown a new technique using what I call “Ink, Tape & Magic.” The process involves aluminum plumber’s tape, a backing such as foam core, India ink and a drawing/etching process. The result is a piece that looks like a cross between an etching plate and a piece of metal repoussé work. The current series is all based on visual representations of patterns and textures of sound. The band “Kinky” has a song called the “Headphonist”. It is about walking around wearing your headphones, giving your own sound to your visual world, and basically blocking out the sounds of the rest of the world around you. There is a line in the song that goes, “… everything that I see has a sound, but what is the shape of silence?” After listening to this one day in the car, it got me to thinking about pattern, rhythm and texture in sound and how best to represent that visually. I was introduced to the “Ink, Tape & Magic” around the same time, and decided to experiment with the two. I spent many hours just listening to different songs and types of music, everything from classical to jazz, to new age, to funk & classic rock and anything else that I could get my hands and ears on. And, while I listened, I paid close attention to the “visual” patterns that the music created. This process has culminated in my current “Art of Noise” series.




My painting work is done in three rather distinct styles. The subject matter and the inspiration directly determine the technical approach to each piece. Some of my most current watercolor works, including work that evolved out of exercises that I do with students in my watercolor classes. I start out creating 2 paintings, either of the same subject or completely different subjects. After “finishing” the painting process, I begin literally destroying the piece by slicing it up into thin strips. Then, depending on the desired result, I either weave two pieces together or I reassemble one painting over top of another, but juxtapose the slices allowing parts of the second piece to show through. In more personal paintings I use pigment to stylistically express what I call the “Joy of Woman”. Then, borrowing from the inspiration of Georgia O’Keefe, one of my earliest stylistic influences, I use a more traditional use of washes & glazes to create paintings like the series of white florals I created after a long time away from the studio. My most recent acrylic work focuses on organic elements created in a monochromatic palette, primarily umbers and ochres.




I have an emotional - though not stylistic - inheritance from the Dadaists, a school of revolutionary artists from the 1920’s who professed “anti-art” - nonrepresentational art, which is greatly influenced by chance. Although most of my work is quite clearly representational, I call on the spirit of the Dadaists in the initial conception of my work. My most current work relies heavily on the Dada theories. I am experimenting with some non-traditional media and am currently working on a series that I call the “Art of Noise” where I express music, sound and the patterns and textures of sound in a visual language. Literature, and humor are also main influences on my work. If wit and humor do not appear in the work itself, they find their way into my titles. I incorporate that satire into my art by distorting reality, ever so slightly, enhancing it with my own “off-center” observations.





Dunlevy, Pennsylvania 15432
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  • Painting
  • Other
  • Mixed-media
  • Drawing


  • Abstract
  • Acrylic
  • Acrylic paint
  • Alternative
  • Assemblage
  • Black & white
  • Chalk pastel
  • Collage
  • Etching
  • Experimental
  • Fiber
  • Ink
  • Modern
  • New media
  • Pen
  • Watercolor
  • Weaving