Artist of the Month: Former Muralist Branches Out to New Media

Suzanne Brubaker shows some of her completed works.

Suzanne Brubaker shows some of her completed works.

LaVerne Kyriss

Suzanne Brubaker has been creating art for as long as she can remember. “I started drawing when I was three. I had a six-year-old cousin and I copied. I took an art course by mail and my brother gave me a painting kit for Christmas when I was 14,” she remembered. Brubaker went on to get a fine arts degree from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

However, she didn’t paint at all while she was raising kids. “I plugged into other creative endeavors,” Brubaker noted. “Then, one day, a friend asked me to paint a birdbath on her wall. She liked the mural so much, my friend put an ad in the paper without telling me. She got me three jobs, including one where I painted the family room walls to replicate the inside of a baseball stadium, including painting faces of the family members on the figures in the dugout.”

That was the beginning of her career as a muralist. After 15 years, she had four helpers. “But quality control was always a challenge when someone else was applying the paint,” Brubaker noted. She also began to experience some health problems and stepped back from her successful business after 19 years.

“When we moved to SaddleBrooke five years ago, I’ll never forget the warm welcome I received from the art guild. Stella Terry greeted me when I first walked into the Topaz Room. I joined a class and went to Open Studio,” she remembered. “Everyone was so open to sharing and willing to help.”

“Today, I’m still learning how to work in oils and finding my style. I lean toward impressionist expressionism. I want pictures with movement in them, something happening, a looser style,” Brubaker explained.

“I start dark and wipe away where I place subjects. I’m sketching with a brush cloth and sponge. I don’t draw a picture first. It’s more moving color away and placing new color. The dark background doesn’t necessarily remain. I’m also mixing colors to get them just right,” she added.

“I’m also working on depth and dimension. Looking at where the light is coming from is key to getting the shadows right and adding color back into something like the creases on a face,” Brubaker explained. “I regularly paint during Open Studio on Mondays. It’s available from 8 a.m. to noon or later. I love the camaraderie and the support from other artists.”

Brubaker recommends everyone try art. “Take a stick figure drawing class as an intro. Take classes for beginners. But first, join the SaddleBrooke Art Guild and ask questions. We have many people of all experience levels. Everyone is willing to share ideas, help with technique, and guide new artists toward finding their own paths,” she said.

“The guild also has sponsors available, matching new members with those who’ve been in the Tucson area for a longer time,” Brubaker noted. “Just figuring out where to buy supplies and what you need to get started can be a big help. People are more than willing to share their tips and tricks.”

For more information about the SaddleBrooke Fine Arts Guild, visit their website at