When Sue Jochum decided it was time to leave the corporate world of high technology and pursue her life-long passion for art, she chose the Surface Creek Valley as home to be near other family who live here.
Now, with her computer programming days behind her, she is finding the time to enjoy plein air painting sessions with friends, to participate with her work in shows and exhibitions, and to develop an enterprise in portrait painting, a discipline that she has discovered a natural talent for.
As she works to develop her portraiture studio, Sue has also found that the high-tech world of Internet and the professional knowledge she has gained are helping her new enterprise by expanding her marketing reach beyond the local area.
Sue discovered that her talent for portrait painting was a natural gift. "I have a natural ability to see details. It is just a talent I have and built on," she explained. It might have been the same gift for detail which helped drive a love for art in high school that also gave her a talent for math.
She was good at math, so when college and career decision time came, she opted for a math degree which she got from Fort Lewis College. It was a commonsense career choice. "I am a very logical person," Sue said.
With her math degree in hand, she went to work doing computer programing and writing software for banks during a 20-year career in the field. In 2008, she began pursuing her art more seriously -- taking three years of classes and attending an art workshop in France. In 2011 she moved to Cedaredge and now does her art full time.
As an artist, her computer skills have come back into her life. Sue has designed and set up two websites to showcase her work. They are: sjochum.com and applestudioportraits.com.
Sue has taken an additional step and purchased ad space on search engines Google and Bing for her portrait work. The ads appear on a rotation basis at the top of web pages that display search results for portrait painting services.
Sue's Apple Studio Portraits presence on the web also provides a value-added bonus for her commissions. Clients who commission portraits are able to view a YouTube video of Sue in the very act of creating their oil portraits. One of Sue's two sons, Matt, serves as the videographer for her work and posts the videos online.
Both of her sons have inherited her artistic outlook and are musicians. Jeff has also followed in his mom's computer programming field.
Sue grew up on the Front Range and became interested in art in high school. For Sue, art always meant oil painting. "Oil painting was always the medium," she said. "It is what art is really all about. I know there's more, but I'm sticking with oil."
Sue does family portraits, individual portraits, and also pet portraits. At her home studio recently she displayed some of the techniques she uses including working from a client-provided photograph, or even from an image on the computer screen. Her works are faithful to originals and realistic. They display proper proportions and they show life-like qualities and emotion in the facial expressions.
Sue has a love of the outdoors life, and a love for landscapes. She ventures regularly into the Delta County outback with two artist friends for plein air art sessions. Sue has participated in the Aspen Plein Air art festival and intends to apply to it again this year.
She currently has some of her paintings on display at the Crawford Library, and her paintings have won awards at shows, including the Edge of the Cedars.
Landscape painting provides creative avenues for interpretation and impression. But portrait painting is different in an important way; that's because the end product of a commissioned portrait work must please one particular person who will have a very discriminating eye.
"I like challenges." Sue says, and she believes that portrait painting provides that. "I like to be challenged, and I think portrait painting is the most challenging type of painting."
She believes that portrait painting is a unique category of art and that it should have its own category in art shows.
Her bright, front room art gallery displays the realistic, oil portrait results of her work that can even be taken from old family photos. Two special portraits hang there; one of her grandmother who lived in New Orleans and which reveals an attractive young woman with a determined character. The other is a classic work in the genre of North Dakota German farmer immigrants to America. It shows a dignified working man of the land.
Her large work titled "Korbin" is a studio study completed in an art class showing a young man, and which evokes an introspective energy.
Another work is after an original; "Patience Escalier," by van Gogh. The study displays a complete understanding and faithfulness to the original's technique and color expressions.
Sue says her Internet marketing came about as a way to find "an edge" for welling work. But it is clear to anyone viewing the work she has on display that the real edge to Sue's portrait painting is the natural talent she brings to every work.