Suzanne Unrein

The Influence of Dreams & How to Start Painting, with Suzanne Unrein

image promo of the savvypainter podcast, artist Suzanne Unrein posing in front of paintings


Do your dreams impact your creative process? Have you ever explored this aspect of intersection between your imagination and your art? Does your approach to starting a painting differ from your peers? My guest, Suzanne Unrein took the time to explore these fascinating topic and much more throughout our conversation.

Suzanne is a California native and current New Yorker. Her paintings and works on paper explore a vibrant world of humans and animals. Her work is characterized by vibrant colours and expressive gestures.

In our conversation, we discuss intuition and how dreams influence her paintings from time to time. We also touch on some differences in how we start painting. I can’t wait for you to learn from the fascinating insights and unique perspective that Suzanne brings to the table.

Is there a “right way” to start painting?

Where you ever taught that there was a “right way” and a “wrong way” to start painting? Did that direction cause you to have a dogmatic approach? Suzanne Unrein explained to me that she doesn’t have a set pattern that she goes back to when she approaches the canvas. She wants to put herself in a position to hear from the canvas in a new way each time she goes to start painting. As she explained her process, Suzanne did confess that she occasionally slips into some technical patterns but that emphasis to listen to the canvas is always in the back of her mind. What approach has worked for you as you’ve developed as an artist?

Exploring the influence of dreams.

Dreams are such a fascinating topic, from poetry and song to film and artwork, as a species we’ve long tried to understand and come to grips with what our minds process while we sleep. Have your dreams seeped into your creative process or vice versa? Suzanne shared with me that she once dreamt that she was getting eaten by a lion. She shared this with me in the larger context of her exploration of animals and the influence they have on our imagination and our society. Animals also play a huge role in Suzanne’s artwork. Have you played with the concept of dreams or animals in your artwork?

Getting unstuck.

What does it take to get past a creative block? Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you throughout your career? I’ve been stuck plenty times creatively, and I am always eager to hear from my peers to get their perspective on getting unstuck. Suzanne says that she gets stuck from time to time due to her perfectionist nature, she’ll focus on one aspect for too long that she can’t see anything else. When that happens, she’ll just pull back and remove the section that has her stuck, and she’ll start fresh the next day. I hate getting stuck but hearing from artists like Suzanne can be helpful in developing different remedies to this common occurrence.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:30] I introduce my guest, Suzanne Unrein.
  • [4:15] What led Suzanne to her career in art?
  • [7:30] Suzanne talks about getting her start in LA.
  • [10:30] How does Suzanne describe her artwork?
  • [17:30] Is there a good “way” to start painting?
  • [23:00] Suzanne talks about her process and a project she is working on.
  • [30:40] Is there anything that scares Suzanne about painting?
  • [35:15] Questions that Suzanne is interacting with in her artwork.
  • [40:00] How does Suzanne deal with creative block?
  • [43:30] Art that Suzanne would love to have from a living artist.
  • [49:00] Where you can find Suzanne’s artwork.

Other artists mentioned on this episode

Resources Mentioned on this episode

Connect With Antrese


Painting 'Elysium Flats' by artist Suzanne Unrein
Elysium Flats
Painting 'Grass Lunch' by artist Suzanne Unrein
Grass Lunch
Painting 'The Conductor' by artist Suzanne Unrein
The Conductor
Painting 'The party' by artist Suzanne Unrein
The Party
Painting 'Easter Parade' by artist Suzanne Unrein
Easter Parade

graphic image with painting and text promoting savvypainter podcast interview with suzanne unrein

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