Conveying beauty with canvas and voice, Suzanne DuPlantis on her craft
On this episode of Artblog Radio, Wit speaks with painter and vocalist Suzanne DuPlantis. If you're interested in seeing DuPlantis's paintings in-person, check out her upcoming exhibition at Waverly Heights opening on Sunday, March 15th from 4-6pm!

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Photo of Suzanne DuPlantis on a black background with a colorful border.
Suzanne DuPlantis. Photo courtesy Suzanne DuPlantis (edited for Artblog.

Wit has a heartwarming conversation with their former voice coach, Suzanne DuPlantis, about the duality of her artistic practices in oil paints and classical voice. Suzanne shares her journey with encountering art and performance, her family legacy in education, and her forthcoming shows. You can catch Suzanne’s next exhibition this coming Sunday, March 15th from 4-6PM at Waverly Heights at 1400 Waverly Road in Gladwyne, PA!

Paintings by Suzanne DuPlantis will be on view at Waverly Heights, 1400 Waverly Road, Gladwyne, PA, on March 15, 4-6 PM

You can listen to Artblog Radio on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Thank you to Kyle McKay for composing Artblog Radio’s original podcast intro and outro!


Wit López: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Artblog Radio. I’m your host for today, Wit López, and I am extremely excited and honored to be sitting here with a very, very talented painter and visual artist, Suzanne DuPlantis. Welcome to the show. Suzanne.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you so much, Wit.

Wit López: (laughter) We’re very excited to have you here. So I recently saw on Facebook that you posted a painting that you made recently of koi,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Mhm.

Wit López: of fish. It’s so beautiful. I’m assuming that it’s oil.

Suzanne DuPlantis: It is oil, mhm.

Wit López: It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: So what led you to painting those koi?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Oh gosh, to painting those koi. That was actually the product of a workshop that I did with a very famous and wonderful painter named Derek Penix. Uh, he’s quite famous for his koi paintings, and I, uh, it was one of the reasons why I wanted to study with him. So, it was an intensive four-day workshop and one, one of those days was dedicated to a koi, so it was, it was really a process. I left with half, you know, the painting half done, and then took it home and was really able to turn it into something that I was happy with, so that’s what led me. And also, you know, who doesn’t like to look at koi? They’re just magical and mesmerizing.

Wit López: They really are.

Suzanne DuPlantis: They are.

Wit López: I love, whenever I see a koi pond, I get very excited. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: I know, I know, they’re beautiful, the colors and.

Wit López: They’re so beautiful and very calming.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Mm, mhm. Absolutely.

Wit López: So that’s awesome. So I’ve also seen still lifes that you’ve painted of flowers, fruit,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Mhm.

Wit López: um, I think I saw a landscape recently as well.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yup. I do all of that.

Wit López: That’s amazing. So what, what led you to painting still life and landscape and just painting in general?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Well, um, how far do you want me to go back with this story? (laughter)

Wit López: Go as (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Okay.

Wit López: as far as you need to.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Okay, so when I picked up art again, um, which is about 10 years ago, I had painted a lot and drew a lot as a young person, put it away, became a singer, uh, and then about 10 years ago, it’s an interesting story, but we can, we don’t have to talk about that now, (laughter) I started painting again. Um, first I started drawing in charcoal and then d-, uh, did some fine art batik and then settled on oil painting, and, you know, in the beginning you’re really just learning to handle the materials and you’re, you’re, you have this idea of some kind of poetry that you want to put on, on the canvas, or in my case, on the board. I’ve settled on painting mostly on board.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: And you have to paint a lot of really bad paintings and, and then, (laughter) you know, show up the next day to paint another bad one until you start, (laughter) you know, you, you sort of know what you want to say and how, where you want to get to, and I, I had this feeling that I could get there, uh, so I, um, took a lot of lessons and I still take a lot of lessons, uh, for one reason, that carves out time in my week, uh, and I’ve been influenced and taught by many wonderful painters in the Philadelphia area, and I’ve settled on representational art. Um, I think the world around us is so incredibly beautiful. Um, I, I’m an admirer of abstract, uh, but I haven’t gotten there myself yet. Um, I have some ideas that, that would borrow from realism, but stretch it a little bit. I might get there, but at this point, I’m still so, um, absorbed in, uh, capturing, um, in, with paint what, what I’m seeing and capturing it in a way that helps, uh, it to make other people feel like it makes me feel when I look at something. So it’s still life, you know, it can be pretty, you know, maybe boring for a lot of people. It’s not boring for me. Uh, even just a single piece of fruit is, um, it can be…. you know?

Wit López: Aww.

Suzanne DuPlantis: And if I show it at such a, in such a light, and at such an angle, um, it just feels very, uh, I don’t know. Just this, this stuff of life and, and uh, so in those paintings, those still life paintings, I, um, they’re painted with a lot of love and a lot of, um, I don’t know, reverence for the subject,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: so. And they don’t always succeed, and that’s okay. (laughter) Um, and then, you know, landscape, uh, I’ve started to, well, I have for a few years now, been going outdoors and, uh, taking plein air classes, and that is an unbelievable feeling

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: to, to really just stand and look outside and to feel everything that you feel, um, you know, the breezes, the bugs, the everything. (laughter) Some people are definitely not into that. (laughter) They don’t like the, uh, they don’t like all the, you know, the stuff that comes with it, but I get out there and I, I get this feeling of, there’s nothing I would rather be doing than this.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Like, I cannot believe I’m standing here doing this. And again, you know, most of the paintings don’t succeed, but when they do, it’s really, really fun, and when they do, they have some feeling of the feeling that I had

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: when I stood there and painted. So I think as I get better at it, the more paintings will have that feeling, so.

Wit López: That’s amazing. That’s wonderful. I, I really love like plein air as a, as a technique and everything, um, and just what it is, like, entirely. So that’s, it’s great. I’m glad to hear that you’re getting into that and working on those as well. Uh, so you mentioned that you do oil, but you do also have practice in other media as well.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah. When I, um, when I was a kid, I used to love to draw pencil, um, sketches and sketch everything. I also worked in pen and ink and I also worked in watercolor, and when I, uh, and I did that through graduate school. I went to Eastman School of Music and I actually moved from, uh, New Orleans to Rochester, New York in January. It was quite something, and I

Wit López: (laughter) I believe it. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah. (laughter) And so I started doing these kind of fanciful drawings. I, I couldn’t take any oils with me, um, I did oil as well when I was young, and so I took watercolor because it was a one little box of watercolors and it was pretty moveable, and, uh, a lot of my drawings at that time would be sort of icy blues against these,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: you know, really fire, fire towns, you know, and they were sort of, um, I don’t know, Dali-esque, uh,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: drawings. I think I was just trying to get out this experience of this, you know, hothouse flower being transplanted into the, (laughter) a very cold environment. (laughter) Um, but then after a while, I didn’t have time even for that,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and, uh, so. Okay, so, fast forward 25 years later, um, I put my kids into a batik class, a fine art art batik class,

Wit López: Oh, wow.

Suzanne DuPlantis: with, uh, Laura Madeleine, who’s a wonderful fine art batik artist, and it was just a week in the summer, uh, at Woodmere and, you know, decided that they would go and do that, and then the more I read about it, I thought, ‘well, I kinda wanna do that. I would like to do that.’ (laughter) So I, I called Laura, who I knew, um, actually from other circles, and I said, “can I, you know, can I pay my way in and come? I promise I’ll sit in the corner, I won’t talk to the teenagers, I’ll, I’ll be really quiet,” (laughter) and, uh, she said, “sure!” so, you know, we came in and she talked about these techniques, which were wonderful and old, and you know, you work with these melted wax and, um, it’s very fascinating, really, really fascinating. So, um, after the first couple of days I was, I was looking at the whole world and in a completely different way,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: everything that I saw,

Wit López: Wow.

Suzanne DuPlantis: everything that I looked at, ‘how would I do that? How would I,’ because in batik you have, the process is such, it’s not like just, um, painting oil. You have to plan ahead and use dyes, then, and then whenever you’re satisfied with the color as it is, you have to wax it down and all of that kind of stuff, and I, I remember feeling like the scales fell from my eyes at that point. (laughter) And, um, uh, on the third day she walked over to me and I had created something that was actually quite pretty, and she said, “wow, where did you learn to paint?” and I, I mean, I felt like bursting out into tears

Wit López: Aww.

Suzanne DuPlantis: because I didn’t realize that I still could, or I still had it, you know? And, um, so that began this, you know, inexhaustible, um, desire to continue to paint, and so, um, so I continued in batik. I did probably about 12 pieces larger and a few small, but I was actually working quite big in batik at the time. Um, she recommended that I do some charcoal work and I did, um, uh, some charcoal and then did a lot of Studio Incamminati. Um, I did a portrait and figure, uh, with a wonderful teacher named JaFang Lu, uh, and that was great for seeing, just great for looking and seeing, and abstract shapes and all of that kinda stuff, and then got into painting oils, and I’ve been doing that ever since, and, although I did those concurrently, and, uh, have benefited from lots of wonderful, wonderful teachers, um, and whenever I decide, wow, I need to learn, I need to stretch in this way, I find a teacher that I think can help me learn what I want to learn, um,

Wit López: Hmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and I go spend time with that teacher and do workshops and, as I said, it carves out time in, in a very busy life (laughter) where I’m doing lots of other things to make sure that I have time to paint, so I, I think of my life like a great big vessel and I’m, you know, on the water and I’m just slowly turning this vessel, (laughter) you know, toward the things that I, that I want to do, you know, as much or more than what I’m doing.

Wit López: That’s wonderful. That’s, I think that’s really great. So the way you mentioned painting is as if it’s a, I guess, a reprieve from everything that you experience in your very busy life. So do you kind of view it for yourself as a space for self care, self reflection, um, self investment?

Suzanne DuPlantis: All of that, all of that. I think that, um, you know, we haven’t talked about my other life, (laughter) which is as a singer. It’s a very public, um, public art, you know?

Wit López: It is.

Suzanne DuPlantis: And that you, and it’s performance art. So painting is, um, painting does absolutely feel like self care. It’s, it’s meditative. It’s, uh, it’s quiet. It’s hyper-focusing on something, so it’s a, it’s a, it’s just a kind of meditation and it’s, I’m happier. I’m happier than I’ve ever been

Wit López: Hmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: now that I’m painting,

Wit López: Wow.

Suzanne DuPlantis: I’m less stressed than I’ve ever been. Um, when I’m painting, I feel whole.

Wit López: Wow.

Suzanne DuPlantis: I feel whole and I feel like I, and it doesn’t even have to be good, you know, ’cause, as I said, it’s sometimes not good, (laughter) but just, you know, the process itself, the, the materials, the, um, the, being able to look at something that I like to look at and focusing on that and looking for really small detail and how much, uh, and color and subtlety, uh, it’s a way of taking in the world, um, with a lot of infinite care

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and notice, so.

Wit López: That’s really wonderful. That’s beautiful. (laughter) And since you mentioned music, (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: Uh, so just, um, for full disclosure purposes, I met Suzanne while I was an undergrad because she was my voice coach, so, um, yeah, she, she really invested a l-

Suzanne DuPlantis: And I hope everybody knows about your voice here. (laughter)

Wit López: They, they do not. It’s terrible. Don’t listen. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Oh, no. Wit has a fabulous, fabulous, beautiful voice.

Wit López: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Now, Suzanne is a really amazing singer, really amazing performer, and a even more amazing teacher. So, um, can we talk about your,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Sure!

Wit López: your music practice?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Sure.

Wit López: So you’re a performer yourself,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: right? Mezzo soprano.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Mhm.

Wit López: Uh, what got you into that?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Uh, both of my parents, uh, were, you know, were music lovers. Um, not, not professional in any way, shape or form. My dad did not even read music, but he had a fabulous tenor voice.

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Um, he loved opera. He used to play it constantly, much to the chagrin of all the kids (laughter) and when the Saturday broadcast used to go over the doors would slam (door slamming sounds) all down the hall (laughter) but he loved it. And, uh, my mom also sang in opera chorus. Uh, he did not read music and would learn everything by rote.

Wit López: Amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah. He had a great voice. And, so he would get us to be in, um, in the operas. We would be supernumeraries in the operas. (laughter) And, so it was discovered, I guess, at some point that I could sing, um, and I sang, you know, all the way coming up through grammar school and high school and then I got a scholarship to study voice at Loyola University and met my mentor Philip Frohnmayer, um, who was just, um, so important to me, um, opening a world of song and um, opera too but mostly, mostly song and just this whole world of music to me, so I, I did sing opera. I was then, went to, uh, Eastman School of Music and then Academy of Vocal Arts here in Philadelphia where I have decided to stay and make my life, met my wonderful husband, Kevin McDowell, uh, and even though I sang opera, I didn’t, I sang professionally for about 10 years, um. That, that lifestyle is difficult, and, and my, my preferred form of music is song.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: It’s, um, it’s, I prefer this, um, this sort of heart-to-heart communication of a small room and, uh, um, this beautiful small art form of, of song.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: So, uh.

Wit López: I do too. I do too. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah. It’s awesome. So that’s where I settled, and, um, I, uh, with, uh, some colleagues founded Lyric Fest and we do thematic voice recitals, and I, um, curating wonderful programs about, um, about anything that’s, any theme that, that comes. Uh, there’s a lot of creativity in that, um, and sometimes I sing for those. I definitely curate the shows. Um, I also do, I’ve been doing graphic design for those programs for just

Wit López: Oh, great!

Suzanne DuPlantis: ever since the beginning, so I was kind of keeping my toe in the, in the art in a different way.

Wit López: (laughter) Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: So, uh, just to sneak back over to visual art

Suzanne DuPlantis: Sure!

Wit López: a little bit for a second, do you have any exhibitions coming up soon or are you planning any?

Suzanne DuPlantis: I’m going to be, um, I was invited to Waverly Heights, which is actually a retirement community in, on the Main Line, and they have, um, they do shows, uh, and they invited me to show, so I’ll be doing that, I think, um March 22nd, I think the show opens. It’ll be up for about,

Wit López: Oh, nice!

Suzanne DuPlantis: it’ll be up for about a month. Yeah.

Wit López: Oh, that’s really nice!

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah, very good. And I just finished, um, uh, sort of an art of the flower show, uh, with Lyric Fest that we did.

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: We sang, um, we called it “Toutes les fleurs” which is “all the flowers.” It’s named for a duet from, uh, uh, Madame Butterfly, but, so we did, we showed, uh, I showed about twenty of my, uh, floral pieces.

Wit López: Aw, that’s so nice.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah! And then we sang, we had, there were two other beautiful, beautiful singers, and we did a short program of, um, flower songs.

Wit López: Oh, that’s so sweet!

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah, it was fun.

Wit López: That’s really, that’s really beautiful. Wow, that’s nice.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thanks.

Wit López: Um, so to get back toward vocal music, so you said you have Lyric Fest,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yes.

Wit López: which is your organization with your colleagues. Um, what made you decide to really start Lyric Fest?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Um, well, this goes back, uh, to my work with my colleague and, and best friend Laura Ward. We met at the music Academy of the West, gosh, 30 years ago, um, when we were both students and she is a fabulous pianist, and way back when, when we were singing there, uh, we had this dream that we would have a, a music festival,

Wit López: Aw!

Suzanne DuPlantis: that we would have an art song festival.

Wit López: That’s so nice.

Suzanne DuPlantis: It goes all the way back to there. Yeah. Only it was going to be on a vineyard (laughter)

Wit López: Amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: in Southern California, and we were going to call it “Elysian Fields,” which is

Wit López: That’s nice.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Oh yeah. So Elysian Fields is a very famous street in New Orleans, which is where I’m from.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Um, and you know, this is, I mean, it literally was a dream of all of that time. So, Laura was living in various different cities, and it so happened that she came and lived, uh, in Philadelphia, got hired by Academy of Vocal Arts, and her husband was able to open, uh, in law offices here, and so everything, you know, the stars aligned and she was, um, she was at First Pres[byterian] on, uh, Walnut street at the time, and they acquired, she helped them to acquire a gorgeous piano, and that church wanted to, um, wanted to bring more people in the doors, wanted to have, um, wanted to have more music in their space. And so this piano was an impetus to make that happen for that congregation. And so they, um, they were open to having us start our festival, and in those early years we were in that beautiful space

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: with this incredible piano. Um, as time went on, we decided we wanted to be at the Academy of Vocal Arts and in a space that was actually made for music,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: so we transferred over, um, but still have many, many friends from that, um, that community. Uh, and so we, it’s just kind of, it’s evolved along, uh, we are now in our seventeenth season, which is incredible.

Wit López: Wow. That is.

Suzanne DuPlantis: We commission, we commission, gosh, um, forty song cycles. We have, you know, hundreds of songs that came into being, um, through our, our commissioning and our wonderful donor base who helps us to make that happen, um, and it’s exciting to know that we are commissioning the music that’s going to represent this time and place, so that’s pretty

Wit López: That’s amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: exciting work. Really, really exciting work. Um, our composers are, uh, both local and national, and so it’s, it’s going really well.

Wit López: That’s amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: That is wonderful. I’m glad to hear that.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: Congratulations. Seventeen seasons is amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Mhm.

Wit López: That is wonderful.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah, and we do, we do, these new works right alongside, um, the classics, you know, right alongside Mozart and Schubert and Faure and Poulenc and you know, all of that. (laughter) So everything is, is a mashup, you know? If it’s, if it depicts and talks about the, the story that we want to tell.

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: The song helps us to tell that story. Um, we use many singers in each concert, uh, we often use actors, we’ve u-we’ve had dancers, we’ve, um. So it’s, it’s an immersive experience

Wit López: Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and a personal, a very personal, um, experience, so.

Wit López: Absolutely. Now I, I had the pleasure of attending two of your events, um, one that was at AVA, the Academy of Vocal Arts,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yes.

Wit López: and one that was at, um, the Philosophical Society? Is that what it’s called?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Ethical society?

Wit López: Ethical. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: You were there. Yeah! You were close. There is a Philosophical Society.

Wit López: Close but not close enough, right?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah. The Rittenhouse Square one.

Wit López: I think that’s a saying. (laughter)

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: And they were both really, really beautiful experiences.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: Really amazing, um, so enjoyable. I, and the music both times was so soothing. It was really soothing to be in that space and just be, to feel surrounded by the sound.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: So that was, that was a really great experience.

Suzanne DuPlantis: That’s part of what we want to create for people.

Wit López: You definitely are. It definitely is there.

Suzanne DuPlantis: You know, it’s, um, life is hectic. Life is hectic. It’s, it’s nice to, um, to just be still, be still and listen and be given this gift of a song, a space to, um, to quiet down.

Wit López: Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: That really is a gift, so thank you.

Suzanne DuPlantis: You’re welcome!

Wit López: That’s wonderful. Um, so you’re an amazing teacher as well,

Suzanne DuPlantis: Aw, thank you.

Wit López: you’re, you’re a very super voice coach.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: Um, I, from personally working with you, I got to, I got to witness my voice change and mature under your tutelage, and so

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: I, I’m really grateful for the work that you do

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you.

Wit López: in performance and in music.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Well, you were a pleasure. I can guarantee you that.

Wit López: (laughter) Lies.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Nooo.

Wit López: (laughter) But, um, no, I’m, I really am, like, super grateful for everything that you taught me about my voice and about the, the work behind singing and about the body as an instrument.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: So thank you.

Suzanne DuPlantis: You’re welcome.

Wit López: Uh, but what got you into the idea of teaching music? What, you know, pushed you into that?

Suzanne DuPlantis: Well, um, I think if you have been taught well, you have things to, um, to pass on, uh, and I have been blessed with many, many, just fantastic teachers and mentors, um, so that’s one thing, and the other thing is just practical that, um, there, there’s not that many ways that a singer can make a living,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and so, um, one almost immediately has to think, ‘okay, you know, I, I have this job and this job, you know, I, I have, my busiest opera season I had, I had five jobs, so, you’re only away, you know, three weeks or a month for each of those,

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and then the rest of the time, you know, what are you going to do? (laughter) So, um, I was asked, I was approached to, to teach, um, by someone early on, and, uh, I realized, and I, I said yes. It was through Temple Prep and it was a lot of fun, and it was, and I, and I also realized, um, I don’t know, when you teach voice to somebody, you have this unique opportunity to just have a one-on-one relationship, and, um, I don’t, I don’t remember exactly if it was like this with you, Wit, but you can, you know, you can talk about all kinds of things, uh, that (laughter)

Wit López: Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: that sometimes it’s, it’s the voice and sometimes it’s the music, and sometimes it’s the poetry and sometimes it’s the life that goes along with all of that, and so when the singer stands up to sing, they, they bring all of that.

Wit López: Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: They bring everything, and, um, sometimes they need to put down some of that other stuff in order to, um, to sing from their truest place or to, to, to show up to everything, every bit of the talent that they have. They have to shed other stuff, so a teacher, a good teacher, not only gives, um, a student, start, starts to help the student discover, um, you know, their voice and, and develop their voice and get rid of maybe some habits that are holding them back, but also to, to have the confidence to be all of what they are, um, and to give all of what they are, I think that that’s a, um, that’s something that singers and artists of all kinds struggle with. Um, you know, I remember hearing this, this one, probably what would have been called today, a podcast, (laughter) an interview with somebody. Uh, he is a famous jazz musician, and, and uh, he said his, his mentor had asked him, “well, how did you do with this, this particular job?” and this, this person was already famous, you know, and he said, he said, “uh,” he said, “I,” he said, “I think I did well, but I, I didn’t like how I sounded.” (laughter) And his, his mentor said, you know, “nobody remembers how you sounded. They remember how you made them feel.”

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: And that is a very, uh, important thing to help people, to help young people understand that, that they’re not, you know, the end result is not a given sound or, uh, anything like that. It’s, it’s, can you get to that human place where you say very honestly from yourself self to another human being, something that you want to share?

Wit López: Hmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: And when you share at that level, people do not remember how you sounded. That’s not, that’s not the thing. Um, so that’s very exciting and it’s, it’s, um, you know, hard, but, but thrilling to try to get a student to, to embrace that and have glimmers of what that feels like. You know, interestingly, that’s a performance art. Interesting. And painting, I would say, and this seems to relate to me, I don’t know if it’s going to relate to anybody else, but in singing, there is a little bit of, especially in the classical world, a little bit of, let me, um, let me try to get my voice to sound like this person or just sound,

Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: you know, to sound at this, let me get it to sound like a classical voice.

Wit López: Yeah.

Suzanne DuPlantis: You know, let me get my legato to be, you know, a perfectly beautiful legato, and my ____ to be just, just right, and, (laughter) you know, get into the top just so, and get into the bottom just so, you know, all of that kind of stuff, um, and there seems to be, um, just like a standard of what a good operatic or classical sound is. I, I loved going over into the art world and having these classes and going in, you know, with these teachers, with a bunch of really fabulous painters all doing something very, very different.

Wit López: Absolutely.

Suzanne DuPlantis: I mean, their, their mark-making is completely different, completely unique. You know, in the beginning, I didn’t like the marks that I was making. I didn’t, I, I, I, I didn’t like it, but I look back at some of those paintings and I think, ‘gosh, already they were already looking like me.’ They weren’t successful yet, but, um, I loved that there was room for all kinds of expression in a way that seemed larger and more expensive than, than the classical world that I was in.
Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: So I really, I really do enjoy that, um, and I feel less hemmed in, in a way, as a painter, um. Maybe as I do it more, that’ll change, but for right now, I feel really less hemmed in.

Wit López: That’s wonderful.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: Have you ever considered teaching your own workshops in painting?

Wit López: That’s wonderful.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Um, I come from a family of teachers. (laughter) My grandmother was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, my sister’s a teacher, so I, I come by teaching naturally and I can, you know, I want to be clear that I don’t consider myself to be, you know, any kind of master in any way, shape, or form, but what I do know how to do, I can teach.

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: So, um, and I appreciate those teachers, I, and I’ve had many good teachers who are very different, you know, in painting. Some are really specific about how you should do things. It has to be like this, and it has to be like that, and so I have decided when I take lessons with them, I will do what they say, (laughter) because I am there to learn what they do.
Wit López: Mmm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Um, but I’ve also been with other teachers where they acknowledge that there are many different ways to do something, um, and so I think each individual artist has to just figure out a couple of things. They have to figure out, um, what they like and what they want to say, you know, and how they want to say it, and, um, how they want to get to their ____ product because there’s many, many, many different ways to get there, um, and I’m just now getting to the point where I’m experimenting with certain things and I, you know, some of the, some of the people that I’m working with don’t want me to actually get there the way that I’m getting there, and sometimes

Wit López: Mm.

Suzanne DuPlantis: and, and that’s okay. Sometimes I just do it at home and bring the painting in and they’re “Ah! It’s really good!” (laughter) You know? It’s like, ‘well, I started with burnt umber,’ you know? (laughter) You know, but, you know, not really, I mean, I’m being facetious there. They’re all awesome teachers and, um, and I have something to learn from all of them and, and it gets me painting, you know, ten or twelve hours a week, so.

Wit López: That’s amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah.

Wit López: That’s really wonderful. Well Suzanne, that is the end of our half-hour, but thank you so much for your time, thank you for bringing your talent, thank you for being willing to share all these wonderful things and your journeys toward visual art and toward music, so thank you. And thank you for sharing your art and your music with the world.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Aw, Wit.

Wit López: It’s appreciated.

Suzanne DuPlantis: It’s been a pleasure to sit and talk with you.

Wit López: (laughter) Well, I look forward to your visual show at Waverley Heights

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thanks.

Wit López: and I look forward to more Lyric Fest performances

Suzanne DuPlantis: Good!

Wit López: um, wherever they may fall.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah! We have one coming up.

Wit López: Oh, great!

Suzanne DuPlantis: It’s called “The Enchanted Flute.”

Wit López: Amazing.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Yeah! It’s going to be flute songs all in English, very, uh, sweet, fun, funny songs, so myself and Maeve Höglund and Laura Ward, so that’ll be coming up in early March, so.

Wit López: That’s really exciting. I’m, I’m definitely going to be looking out for it. Thank you so much, and thank you again for being on Artblog Radio today. I had a great time speaking with you.

Suzanne DuPlantis: You’re so welcome.

Wit López: Thank you.

Suzanne DuPlantis: Thank you for having me.

Wit López: Oh, no problem. For those of you who are out there listening,ou y can listen to this on Artblog, on Spotify, or on Apple Podcasts. Thank you very much to the folks at Cultureworks for letting us use their conference room to record this. Y’all have a great day. Bye now.

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Suzanne DuPlantis, Waverly Heights

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