Niles artist finds comfort through painting
Niles artist Susan Hernandez stands in front of one of her paintings called "Lucy" which is on exhibit at the Park Ridge Public Library. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:20AM
NILES — A few years ago, when her son was ill, Niles resident Susan Hernandez started painting in an effort to get through a rough time.
Today, she is still passionate about painting and some of her artwork is being displayed at the Park Ridge Public Library through the end of December. A woman of many interests, Hernandez just finished her first book of poetry, is in nursing school and got a job as a make-up artist for a commercial.
Q: How did you first get involved in painting?
A: My son had an aneurism in his brain. They told us he could either go totally blind, have another aneurism and die, or forget who he was or who we were. He could see I was really sad. He told me, “Mom, why don’t you paint?” They had a contest at the Niles Library and I saw it as a sign. I got the oil paints.
Q: Did painting help you deal with those emotions?
A: It was very therapeutic for me.
Q: Have you always had an interest in art and painting?
A: When I was growing up, I loved dancing. That was my world, dancing and basketball. I was exposed to art at an early age because my brother loved art. He brought poetry to me. We come from a very artistic family.
Q: What do you love about drawing and painting people?
A: I feel like everybody wears themselves on their face. You can tell if someone’s in a bad mood, someone’s sad, happy, all in their face. I feel like when I look at them I could see the strain if they’re tired and worried and real joy if they’re happy. I feel like it’s a gift that God gave me. When someone doesn’t know you’re looking at them and you capture them in a certain light, it’s really beautiful.
Q: What’s one of your other favorite paintings besides your first portrait of John Lennon?A:
My favorite painting besides that one is called Two Bleeding Hearts. You have to figure out whether she’s a widow or a bride; it’s thought provoking. Being an artist is fun. You have to make people look at other things and force them to see other things. It’s not obvious.
Q: Do you enjoy the stories behind doing the portraits?
A: I think everyone really has an interesting story. I think old people really have interesting stories.
Q: When did you get involved in poetry?
A: I would read poem after poem after poem. I feel like the poems write themselves. At 19, it was the first time I wrote a real serious poem. Every time I felt pain I would just put it into words.
Q: How do you feel about your artwork being displayed at the Park Ridge Public Library?
A: It’s very exciting.
Q: What do you enjoy about poetry and poetry readings?
A: I love poetry. You get on stage and you have this poem that’s either really happy or sad and you see the audience and they’re just right there in the emotion.
Q: How did you become interested in nursing?
A: I’m studying nursing. I need to because my son’s sick and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I want to know everything. I took care of my father until he died. I took care of my grandmother until she died. I think I was born a nurse.