Suzanne Stebila is a new face to the Flagstaff arts scene. “I sculpt in oil,” she says, “I love the smell, the feel, the way it can be brushed on and wiped off and how it creates an image, right before my eyes as if it came that way, right out of the tube.” She moved north in the spring of 2014 and has made a strong introduction for herself into the community of Flagstaff. Suzanne was featured on the cover of The Noise which included center page feature article in August of 2014. She sold her first painting that year with the Artist Coalition and hasn’t looked back since. Her painting, “Innocence” caught attention at the 10×10 Exhibition at the Coconino Center for the Arts in early 2015. She was concurrently a student in the 2015 ArtBox Institute, with her final project consisting of many small portraits, one for each of her classmates.
Suzanne likes to explore foreshortened perspectives and exaggerated features in her painted portraits. She chooses to paint portraits as an expression of the human form. “I like everything to be off-centered or weird, otherwise, to me, it’s just too boring to paint,” Doucette-Stebila says, recalling her years at art school. “I remember having to paint a clear vase or the most boring dead flowers, and I thought, I will never do that again. I love color and motion and action and expression.”
She has painted a series of portraits of young women, each expressing the subject’s unique features and vibrancy, such as the large piercing eyes of her niece Maisy. Many of her female subjects struggle with body image and self esteem issues in one way or another. She uses her canvas as a way to express their strengths, personalities and to show them just how beautiful they actually are. “One of the most challenging stages a young woman can experience in today’s society is the notion of body image,” says Ms. Stebila. “When women compare themselves to other women it creates an internal dialogue that can skew the actual from the projected image. I wanted to paint Maisy because she had the appearance of being comfortable in her skin, even at 16; and this projected outward and compelled me to paint her.”
“I’m not interested in perfection,” she says. “I used to teach yoga and one of my gurus said ‘there’s no joy in Samadhi’ — Samadhi being the highest level — ‘it’s such a bore.’ So why would I want to paint like a photograph? Take a picture. I think it’s all about the imperfections … and it’s really hard not to try to make something perfect. To make a mark and leave it there and let it stand for itself.”
She currently is showing work at her Studio 12.12, part of the Aspen Loft Artists, which is a popular stop during the First Friday ArtWalk. She also has work hanging in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Gannons Antiques and Art.