22 September 2017Last updated

Features | People

Susan Brooker: the artist

With International Women’s Day around the corner, Susan Brooker tells us why she paints women and what art lovers can expect at her solo exhibition More Than A Woman in Dubai next week

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat
6 Mar 2016 | 11:15 am
  • Source:Supplied Image 1 of 2
  • Susan’s portraits are a celebration of inspirational women, their beauty and heritage.

    Source:Supplied Image 2 of 2

Tell us a little about yourself…

I’m from London. I’ve been in Dubai nearly 10 years and I met my British husband, Daniel, here. We married two years ago. I have a nine-year-old-son from a previous marriage. During the day I’m an office manager for an oil trading company, then at night and weekends I paint.

You’ve only been painting for four years but you’re already an established artist. What’s the secret?

I’ve always had a creative side to me. I’d have loved to have been a painter from leaving college, but as a youngster you feel the pressure to get a ‘proper’ job and career. 
So after being a flight attendant for six years I ended up in the oil and gas industry.

It was Daniel who encouraged me to pick up the paintbrush again. When we were moving house in 2012, Daniel found an old sketchbook of mine and was stunned to find out I could draw and paint. 
I was midway through my Master’s in International Management, specialising in oil and gas, so I had no spare time. But since my final dissertation in 2013, I haven’t put down my paintbrush.

I wouldn’t say I was established, far from it, but I am working hard to build up my reputation as a painter.

What is your inspiration?

I am inspired by different things; a photo, a story, or even just a new colour. I’m into golds and metallic oils at the moment.

You only paint portraits of women. Why?

I think women are beautiful, and a painting of a woman can be admired by both men and women. I feel a strong connection to women, maybe it’s a loyalty, or a sisterhood thing. How I capture a subject and my technique is constantly evolving, so who knows what I’ll be painting in a year’s time.

Tell us about your current exhibition.

March 8 and March 21 are celebrated as International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, and to join in the celebrations, Pullman Hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers invited me to showcase a new series of contemporary portrait and figurative paintings of beautiful, symbolic and inspirational women.

With this year’s International Women’s Day theme of Pledge For Parity in mind, I created a series of paintings called More Than A Woman that depicts inspirational women proudly displaying their cultural heritage and indeed demonstrating that 
they are more than a woman.

Is it possible to make a living in the UAE as a painter?

Yes, I’m sure it is, but it is a very small market so I’d imagine you’d have to support the income from your paintings with something else, like teaching art, or having an established international following.

What kind of turnout have you had in your previous exhibitions?

I’ve had one other solo exhibition called Ladies in Paint in Dubai last year and a duo exhibition in May 2014 when I was signed up with Street Art Gallery in Dubai. I sold all my paintings in the duo exhibition and about half of my solo collection. Some paintings don’t sell for up to a year but then sometimes I can sell a painting before the paint is even dry – it all depends on the right person seeing the painting at the right time.

Are you pleased with the reactions you get from viewers?

I do get quite positive reactions to my paintings. I always keep track of my sold paintings. I have an inventory of them and also where they are on display – I like to put my paintings in hotels, restaurants or cafés instead of galleries as people are comfortable in those places and it’s a better way of reaching your target market and getting your work out there.

How do you view painting – as leisure or a job?

Painting is my relaxation. If I don’t paint for a week or so I start to get fidgety because I’ve got too many ideas going on in my head that I need to get out.

What keeps you going?

Feedback from viewers, art lovers and friends. Social media is a good tool to use to see what people really think of your 
work. I just love painting and I would be lost without it, so my passion for it keeps me going.

What is your dream?

To give up my day job and be a full-time painter!

Inside info

The More Than A Woman exhibition will be held at the Pullman Hotel in JLT from March 8-21.

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat

By Shiva Kumar Thekkepat

Features Writer