With Susan Smart, a woman I volunteer to teach art.

Teaching Art and Building Community

Artist Statement Bobbie


Susan and I have been working together since May 2019. I had graduated with a Masters in Art Education and desired to put my time to good use. Shortly thereafter I met with Bob and Sheldon of CHAT and was directed to volunteer with Susan Smart who desired to learn more about painting and drawing. We have met weekly before the fire and bi-monthly since. Painting with Susan is one of the highlights of my week. 

Susan helped me to explore abstraction.  Several of the paintings depicted were in response to the disaster created while working with Suzan in her home. Her daughter had lost her home in Paradise and shortly after Suzan moved to a new location as a result of her landlord being affected by the disaster.  We took a short break and I followed her. 

Because of the devastation of the wild fire I was unable to paint realism as the horror and devastation consumed my psyche. With Suzan, we practiced new techniques and processes.  She also preferred abstract painting. As a result I have seen her develop and grow as an artist over the last year, exploring and generating new ideas with creative freedom. She has taught me more in the last year than words can express.

Artist Statement Susan Smart

Bobbie is a great instructor and I’ve learned a lot. I think my art is getting better. But lately I’ve lost confidence in myself. I’m very critical of my paintings. I like some of the paintings, like the cat, but I don’t feel I’m ready to sell. 

Enter the Lion totem

Lion totem


I began working on stress management to stay afloat amidst the post-disaster in Chico.  I talked about this concept of expressing and generating ideas for works of art with Susan.  We spent a lot of time talking while I painted the last few sessions.  Amidst student teaching and working/living with people affected by the disaster, painting with Susan was a recovery moment for me.  March 2019



I had begun running for the first time in my life in December.  I found out later that resilient people rise to the challenge under stress.  This contributed to the imagery I created while working with Susan

A totem for my Daughter


My daughter was coming of age and her birthday was near.  I brainstormed ideas to create a painting for her mapping out and collaging ideas in my sketchbook. 

The following is a timeline of works I created with Susan


Using found materials

Acrylic on canvas with found materials from a sunny day in January 2019 below Honey Run Bridge on Butte Creek.

It was the day I realized the fire had consumed a residence only a mile from my home and the understanding of how frightened I had been that day the fire raced down the mountain toward Chico. It was also the first day I drove through Paradise and saw what my friends are experiencing with the loss of their home and community. 

I think I'll call this piece, "The Day People's Stories Changed in Butte County" or "The Day People in Butte County Became Better Storytellers"  completed March 20, 2019.

January 2018 - January 2019

The first piece of total abstraction with found materials from my home.

This painting was displayed at the Chico Art Center exhibition for the Camp Fire and it sold.

Artist Statement Camp Fire process, 2018, Mixed media on canvas, 16 X 20”, $100

This is the first of many pieces that I plan to create with layering found materials from my walks through the areas that the Camp fire consumed. I plan to use acrylic paints, mediums and other objects with epoxy resin to help me process the devastation left by the disaster. As a representational drawer and painter, this process is foreign to me, but I hope to push myself through the malaise that I experience daily in Butte County with process rather than using the tragic imagery and emotions that consumes my psyche. The objects in this painting are yarn, rose petals and other material from my home in Chico. I have seen Paradise, drive through the scar weekly, and continue to be obsessed with the idea of using materials left by the fire as a part of my artwork. I feel it will support my grieving process as I continue to find myself living among a natural disaster and comforting friends and clients in their loss.


January 27, 2019

I began to push into new mediums. using rose petals and transferring images with carbon paper. This was an image of a tree that I photographed in Paradise.  Susan suggested I paint it green for life.  We processed through a lot of emotions.  This was my first try at a epoxy resin pour.

Painting with Susan

Dreaming for our community affected by the Camp Fire


Susan and I were quite worried about the results of the fire.  Her daughter and grandchild had lost there home and evacuated at this time.

Generating Idea


Inquiry-based process in our sketchbook to develop ideas for imagery.  We choose to paint our dream that people from the disaster be happy and healthy.

Add in texture Paste


Susan and I pushed into new territory adding texture to our abstract work of art.

Painting with Suzan

December 5, 2018

December 5, 2018

Both Susan and I met to develop our art as abstractionists

November 19, 2018


A try at Impressionistic Landscape



Our last Semi-Realist approach for a few months painting the fall colors outside her window

We Practiced the Portrait

July 30, 2018

Studies of the Face

Susan showed interest in drawing and painting figures. We spent weeks gesture drawing in our sketchbook various figures before we began mixing color and painting with value.


August 6, 2018

Susan preferred to watch


Full portrait

Last try with portraits.  Drawing realism in figures was difficult for Susan so we decided to practice more of a Impressionistic style.

2018 CHAT

The day after graduation, I met with CHAT and other interested volunteers at their office in May 2018

Susan and I became friends

I met with the client in one of the houses and discussed what she wanted out of our meeting.  After several meetings we chatted while painting solving the problems of our respective worlds

This first lessons were to teach beginning painting technique

They were to teach value, perspective in landscape and a study of flowers.