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Susan J Sommer

  • 1515 3rd St, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA

About The Artist

Artist Statement

From Science to Art

I lived my life loving art, music and the theatre but thought I would do so as a grateful spectator.  About four years ago I picked up a pencil and haven’t put it down yet. I  am obsessed with, and possessed by, drawing. 

My life’s work was in science.  I had the privilege of many assignments, first as a RN and then as a MD, the most noteworthy. being twenty years as an emergency room physician and then twelve working in a correctional inpatient psychiatric facility.  I loved medicine, but not the bureaucracy, and was happy to retire from the field with great memories.  And I longed to finally have some time for my drawing.

My teenage son died several years ago, and following his death nature became an extraordinary experience for me.  I became hyper-aware of colors, sounds, smells and light touches of air. To walk outside was to feel the heat and color of the dirt path, sense and smell tiny blades of grass, revel in the greens of swaying branches, and feel the kiss of sunshine on my face.  Unbelievable. That experience was dearly paid for, and I mindfully try to recreate it when I’m outside with only partial success. Art brings me closer to this deep sense of nature, and though I enjoy drawing many things I return to botanicals as my favorite. I love vivid colors and rich textures; I yearn to move the sensuality of nature onto my pages.

One is supposed to find some philosophy of art, but I have yet to find any.  Art is so visual, so tactile, so sensual and so meditative.  I love the bright colors, the soft smell of the flower next to my desk, and the buttery feel of the pencils as they smooth and play into each other.  I also struggled to describe how art makes me feel and one day that answer was obvious.  Remember how it felt to fall in love?  That’s how I feel when I nearing the end of a piece. Contentment and joy.  I feel alive.

So, as you view my work, my hope is you feel some of the joy I felt in making it. Thank you!


Born in Chicago and raised in Colorado, Sue moved to California after college to work her for the United States Public Health Service as a RN.  Once in the city she worked with female physicians for the first time and returned to school to pursue a career in medicine. Sue trained at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and returned to San Francisco to complete her residency at Kaiser Hospital in Internal Medicine.  Over the years she worked as a hospitalist/intensivist, a staff physician at the Marin Community Clinic, and spent 20 years working as an ER physician.  Finally, as an end of career slow down, she worked another 10 years in an inpatient psychiatric hospital within the California Medical Hospital state prison. Sue picked up a pencil for the first time at the age of 60 and found she loved to sketch and draw.  A couple of years later, with new stresses related to Covid obligations and restrictions, she began to draw prolifically as both a coping technique and as a passion. Now retired, Sue has artwork in three galleries as was accepted into the Windslow Art Center’s Winter 2021 art show. Her work can be seen on line at

Art Medium(s)

Pastel, Drawing, Mixed Media

Group Studio Details

Marin Society of Artists Gallery

1515 3rd Street

San Rafael, CA  94901

Studio Information

Building Name

Marin Society of Artists

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